The Rev. Ramelle McCall
General Convention Blog
By Mary Klein, diocesan archivist
Meeting from May 17-26, 1808, twenty-seven clerical and lay deputies, representing seven states, convened at St. Paul’s Church in Baltimore for the seventh General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Only two bishops attended: William White of Pennsylvania, who was the Presiding Bishop, and Thomas Claggett of Maryland. Bishop Benjamin Moore of New York, The Rt. Rev. Samuel Jarvis of Connecticut (who had also failed to attend the 1799 Convention) and Bishop James Madison of Virginia did not attend and the other dioceses – New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, and South Carolina were without bishops.
Since there were only two bishops comprising the House of Bishops, the Rev. Joseph Bend, rector of St. Paul’s Parish, offered the bishops St. Paul’s rectory as “the place of meeting during the sitting of the Convention”. Each day, the bishops met at the rectory and worshipped with the clerical and lay deputies at the parish church; evening services were held at St. Peter’s Church since St. Paul’s was “not fitted for service by candle-light”. The Rt. Rev. Samuel Parker of Massachusetts had been scheduled to preach at the opening service, but, having died only three months after his consecration in 1804, Bishop White agreed to take his place as preacher.
The Convention passed legislation adding thirty hymns to those contained in the Prayer Book, as well as legislation mandating that “Ministers of this Church ought not to perform the funeral service in the case of any person who shall give or accept a challenge to a duel”, which was passed four years after the famous duel between Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was buried at Trinity Church, Wall Street, and the funeral was conducted by Bishop Benjamin Moore of New York, who served as rector of Trinity, as well as being bishop. A resolution that clergy could not unite in matrimony any divorced person, unless the divorce was on account of adultery was also passed. The House of Bishops sent a note of thanks to the Rev. Dr. Bend, “for the accommodations which they have received in the use of his parlour, and in other attentions, during the Session of the Convention.”
General Convention would not meet in Baltimore again until 1871, then again in 1892.
For a summary wrap-up of General Convention, please read the article on Episcopal News Service highlighting the big headlines. We will continue to follow the legislation of General Convention with stories on the Diocese of Maryland’s response to actions taken at General Convention and how we, as a Community of Love, are following the mission and ministry set forth by our wider Church in the local communities in our diocese.
Highlights from your Maryland deputation, fun moments and other important events not to be missed
As the House of Bishops branch of our church government unanimously voted on July 10 to formally welcome Cuba back into The Episcopal Church after a separation in 1966, there were explosions of clapping, shouting and joy. Bishop Chilton Knudsen explains why in this video, which has reached 2,000 views on Facebook. The Rev. Dina van Klaveren of St. Andrew’s, Glenwood and head of our diocesan deputation to General Convention, served on the legislative committee that addressed this resolution at GC79. Read more in The Rev. Dina van Klaveren shares testimony on Cuba and learn more about the issue from the Living Church.
One of the most moving and powerful events the deputation experienced at General Convention was a prayer vigil held at the Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas on Sunday, July 8. Bishop Michael Curry gave a rousing speech, surrounded by Episcopalians who were there to let the refugee women being detained in the facility that they were not alone. Many described seeing the women’s faces in the windows of the center. The women were able to communicate that they felt loved. For more on the event, see coverage by the Austin NBC Affiliate of the the Bishops United Against Gun Violence Rally, held earlier that morning in Brush Square across from the Austin Convention Center, and on the detention center vigil. See pictures shared by The Rev. Ramelle McCall of Holy Trinity, Baltimore. Last week, the diocesan Latino Ministries Committee met to discuss way in which we can carry on the legislative work centered on immigration and refugee issues done at General Convention in our diocese. Be on the lookout in upcoming posts and news for events, training and advocacy opportunities.
Our deputies and bishops chaired and served on numerous legislative committees. They actively engaged in testimony and leadership within the larger Church. The Rev. Jason Poling of St. Hilda’s, Catonsville traveled to Austin for a few days to testify about Israel and Palestine. See Jason’s message +HERE. The Rev. Ramelle McCall testified on resolution A029 – Commend the Evangelism Charter for the Church to All Episcopalians. See his testimony on the floor of the House of Deputies branch of church government +HERE. Ramelle also offered his thoughts on why being at General Convention is important to his work and to the work of the diocese in a video +HERE. He serves as Urban Missioner for the Diocese of Maryland, practicing ongoing community building. The Rev. Scott Slater testified in a hearing on resolution A147 – Pilot Board for Episcopal Transitions, and The Rev. Dina van Klaveren testified in support of improved and more thorough background checks for candidates for election of bishops in the Episcopal Church. The measure on background checks passed the House of Deputies unanimously, Deputy Mark Garcia reported.
Mark served on legislative committee 12 – Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music as a dispatch liaison. The committee dealt with prayer book revision, as well as revision of Lesser Feasts and Fasts and the Book of Occasional Services. See more on the prayer book revision in this story by Episcopal News Service, House of Bishops proposes expanded path for prayer book revision (ENS).
Our new co-executive directors of the Claggett Center, James and Lisa Marie Ryder, along with Baby Fletcher, came out in full force to promote and support Claggett’s presence at General Convention. The Claggett labyrinth was featured on the banner for the Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers booth at GC79 and Claggett had its own day of promotion in the booth July 7. July 9 was “camp day” at General Convention. The Maryland crew wore their Claggett shirts and lanyards and came out in full force to support our camp and conference center. For more about how Claggett was featured at General Convention, read The garden of the Diocese, the Claggett Center, featured at General Convention.
The days of hard work, serious prayer and action and long hours of legislation at General Convention were interspersed with moments of pure joy, fun and celebration. The Episcopal Church put on a revival at the Palmer Events Center in Austin on Saturday, July 7. Bishop Curry’s “sermon” contained quite a few mentions of St. James, Baltimore, his former parish. You can check it out +HERE. Dinner followed at “Texas night,” a BBQ and live music event sponsored by The Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Be on the lookout for what Maryland will come up with for a Maryland-themed night when we host General Convention 80 in 2021!
On Tuesday, July 10, the Maryland crew hosted a luncheon for the bishop and deputation of Puerto Rico, with whom we have a companion diocese relationship. The two deputations and guests bonded and shared hopes and dreams for future exchange programs, including a youth trip next summer, as well as ongoing clergy and lay relationships and common ministry. A desire to learn more Spanish was a hope for many in the Maryland crowd. At the end of our time together, the whole group posed for a photo. The picture below (prepping for formal photo) says it all. Please keep the Diocese of Puerto Rico and the people of Puerto Rico in your prayers, especially as they continue to recover from Hurricane Maria. Bishop Sutton will be a guest at their diocesan convention in October of this year.
To view the worship services, Inside General Convention television show, sermons preached at General Convention Eucharists, Bishop Curry’s speeches and sermons and so much more, please visit the General Convention Media Hub of The Episcopal Church. To read stories about the Diocese of Maryland at #GC79, please visit our General Convention blog. Welcome home, Everyone. We’ll see you all in Baltimore in 2021! In the meantime, the work continues. #JesusMovement #EpiscopalEvangelism #CommunityofLove #EncounterEngage
AUSTIN: Now comes the eighth legislative day, the penultimate day of the 79th General Convention. Resolutions are moving fast and furious between the two houses. Some make it through relatively unscathed. That was the case yesterday when the House of Deputies unanimously concurred with the decision by the House of Bishops to readmit Cuba into the Episcopal Church.
“Right now, I know that the Holy Spirit is moving through all of us,” the Rt. Rev. Griselda Delgado del Carpio, bishop of Cuba, told the deputies. “I want to thank the Lord and the Trinity for this prophetic moment that we are experiencing.”
There were cheers and applause. “Welcome home,” said the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies.
Plans to revise the Book of Common Prayer have traveled a much tougher legislative road. The resolution passed last week by the House of Deputies had a $2 million price tag and projections for a years-long process. It arrived yesterday from the House of Bishops as a proposal to create a Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision comprising 10 lay people, 10 priests or deacons, and 10 bishops.
The multi-million-dollar budget was now $201,000 for the translation of liturgical materials with hopes that the Executive Council would find another $200,000 to begin the liturgical revision process. Such is politics. At this late date, with time winding down, the deputies passed the resolution without amendment.
Plenty of work remains. Today’s first order of business is the proposed $134 million budget for 2019-2021.
That’s all for now.
David Mallery and Alma Bell are our senior deputies. This is their sixth General Convention as lay deputies for the Diocese of Maryland.
by The Rev. Dina van Klaveren, head of Maryland deputation to #GC79
Harry Groce, a young person in the Episcopal Church interning presently in the Diocese of Cuba, sent these thoughts for his mother, Julie Groce of Atlanta, (that’s her with me in the first pic, and I’m with Obispa Griselda in the second pic) to share with us as she testified in our committee meeting today for the Cuba Diocese to be fully reunited with the Episcopal Church via Resolution A328:
“The Episcopal Church in Cuba belongs in the American Church. Ripped away from its mother in the 1960s, it is simply trying to come home. The Cubans I have talked to see the American church as family, and desperately wish to reunite. As I understand, this is for two reasons. First, and the reason they stress most heavily, is that they feel alone and abandoned by their mother church and wish to come home. The situation has been described to me as a child whose mother left them but who was adopted by their aunt (Canada). Although cared for, the child was never made to feel at home in its adopted family and so wishes to rejoin its mother. The Cuban church feels alone, and wishes to end that isolation.
“The second reason, though the Episcopalians here are adamant that this is unimportant compared to the former, is the need for a partner – financially and organizationally. The church is on its own here. The Cuban government tolerates the church, but does everything it can to isolate it at every turn. They need an outside partner to ensure their continuity. So far, the church here has survived solely through sheer willpower. Reunion with the American church would go a long way here, especially when it comes to impacting lives. It is the Church that is taking care of the people here. It is the Church that is caring for the elderly, that is working to find gifted children and nurse their talents in the arts, that is supplying the community with a consistent source of fresh water. Some will undoubtedly argue that supporting the Cuban church is tantamount to supporting the Cuban government, but this is far from the reality. It is the Church that is acting where the government will not.
“Furthermore, I am convinced that reunion with the American Church will be an important stepping stone in the inevitable reconciliation of the US and Cuba. This transition will be made much easier if there is already an existing partnership between Americans and Cubans in some form. The exchange that will occur with reunion will be invaluable in the process of creating mutual respect and understanding between our two nations.
“As governments stall and posture, it is the Church’s duty to help the people. Where governments fail to act, the Church must act. We now have a crucial opportunity to draw the circle wider, and it is imperative that we do so. We say that “The Episcopal Church welcomes you”, and now we must practice that – especially since the one knocking at the door is family.”
Testimony from Harry Groce, 2018 Sewanee alum, Diocese of Atlanta – currently interning in the Diocese of Cuba
For more information about the legislation on the Episcopal Church in Cuba, see the resolutions +HERE.
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