Report of the Canon to the Ordinary
80th General Convention in Baltimore, Maryland
by the Reverend Canon Sharon A. Alexander
The meeting of the 80th General Convention in Baltimore, Maryland (July 7-11, 2022) was anything but normal.
A “normal” meeting would last approximately two weeks, with several thousand people attending, including the women attending the triennial meeting of the Episcopal Church Women, hundreds of vendors and others in the Exhibit Hall, an Episcopal Youth presence, and several thousand visitors. None of these people were able to attend, so this meeting had fewer than 2,000 attending, all wearing facemasks and taking COVID precautions.
Meetings and hearings of Legislative Committees were held online beginning several months before the start of the Convention on July 7. Instead of one huge in-person worship service each day, the House of Bishops and House of Deputies each held their own worship services to start the day. There were no gatherings in the evenings, in part because of COVID precautions and in part because instead of two legislative sessions each day (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), each evening also had a legislative session.
One of the things that was not different was the number of resolutions. This time, General Convention considered 431, which averages out to slightly more than 100 per day, in addition to elections and consideration of the 2023-24 budget for the Episcopal Church. Normally there would be eight days of legislation considering closer to 50 resolutions per day. Despite the amount of work done each day, the members of the deputations from each diocese remained in relatively good spirits and good humor.
West Tennessee was well-served in the House of Deputies by Gary Meade – Chair of the Deputation (St. Mary’s, Dyersburg), Scott Walters (Calvary, Memphis), Chuck McMillen (St. James, Union City), Sharon Alexander (Diocesan Office), Gerri Endicott (Holy Apostles, Collierville), Scott Haight (St. Mary’s, Dyersburg), Lavonnie Perry Claybon (St. Paul’s, Mason), Terecille Basa-Ong (Grace-St. Luke’s, Memphis), and Steve Smith (Immanuel, LaGrange). Scott Haight was elected to the Executive Council and Bishop Phoebe was elected to the Court of Review.
Historic Elections to the House of Deputies
There were two historic elections in the House of Deputies. Julia Ayala Harris is the youngest person and the first Latina to be elected President of the House of Deputies. Rachel Taber-Hamilton is the first Indigenous person and the first ordained woman to be elected Vice President of the House of Deputies.
A number of important matters were decided by this General Convention, some of which are set forth below. The text of all resolutions can be found in the Virtual Binder of the General Convention Office.
- Ecumenical Actions
The Episcopal Church is now in full communion with the Church of Sweden and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada by amendment to Canon I.20.
- Amend Article X of the Constitution – Book of Common Prayer
Resolution 2022-A059 – First Reading
This resolution maintains the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and allows for alternative and additional liturgies to supplement the Book of Common Prayer as provided by Canon. This resolution will need to be approved again in 2024 to become effective.
- Official Liturgical Website
This resolution declares www.episcopalcommonprayer.org to be the official liturgical website of The Episcopal Church, containing all authorized liturgies and explanatory materials.
- Book of Occasional Services 2021 Authorized
This resolution adds new occasional liturgies to the Book of Occasional Services 2018. This will eventually be on the official website.
- Lesser Feasts and Fasts
This authorizes the commemorations that were approved for trial use in 2018. This will eventually be on the official website.
- Evangelism Endowment
This resolution came out of Province IV (the province of TEC to which the EDWTN is a member) and establishes an endowment for funding evangelism efforts.
- Extending and Furthering Beloved Community
This establishes the Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity and Justice as a voluntary association of Episcopal dioceses, parishes, organizations, and individuals dedicated to the work of becoming the Beloved Community to be funded by an annual draw on the trusts and endowments available for general use in The Episcopal Church’s budget.
- Telling the Truth about The Episcopal Church’s History with Indigenous Boarding Schools
This creates a fact-finding commission to research the history of residential boarding schools for the Indigenous that were operated by The Episcopal Church and to gather information from survivors of abuse at these schools.
- Forensic Audit of the Funds of The Episcopal Church
This directs the officers of The Episcopal Church to ensure that the Church conduct historical research on the origins and sources of its financial and other assets of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society that are directly tied to the enslavement of humans, the slave trade, and historical and current racial injustices, in order to tell the story of our history. It also urges each diocese to conduct this research on the origins and sources of its financial and other assets.
- Defining Equal Place in the Life of the Church
The passage of this resolution directs dioceses to review lay ministry within the diocese and make sure there is adequate support and opportunity for the laity, including people from underrepresented groups.
- Church Grounded in Social Justice as Christian Ministry
This requests that all dioceses offer, at least once a year, a diocesan-wide event or program and liturgy to engage our congregations and members in listening to and understanding the history and current context of our diverse local communities, with attention to those who have historically been dispossessed or disadvantaged.
- Revise Denominational Health Plan
This reviews the structure and offerings of the Denominational Health Plan, in consultation with the Church Pension Group staff, with special attention to the cost of premiums, and report back to the 81st General Convention a list of options to reduce health insurance costs across the Church.
- Uniform Paid Family Leave Policy
This urges all dioceses to adopt a paid family leave policy for both clergy and lay persons, based upon bronze, silver, and platinum plans to be developed by The Episcopal Church.
- Best Practices Guide and Policy to Prevent Harassment
This provides for adaptation of a Model Policy to Prevent Harassment and a Best Practices Guide by the dioceses, with these items and other information relevant to prevention of harassment to be included on The Episcopal Church’s website.
- Development of Best Practices in Hiring and Developing Organizational Cultural Competencies
Executive Council is directed to develop model hiring, workplace and committee/board practices, including a focus on deepening cultural competency.
- Break the Silence Sunday
This designates the Sunday closest to November 25 as Break the Silence Sunday in observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
- Suicide Prevention
This expands suicide prevention training.
- Gender and Sexuality Training
This utilizes the Safe Zone Project to provide gender and sexuality training.
- Developing Curriculum and Required Training for Clergy in Mental Health Pastoral Care
This authorizes the creation of a curriculum for clergy and those in the ordination process in mental health and mental illness awareness.
- Reunification of Dioceses of North Texas and Texas
This approved the reunification (merger) of the former Diocese of Fort Worth and the Diocese of Texas.
- Updated New Revised Standard Edition and New Jerusalem Bible Resolution 2022-A144
This authorizes the use of the Updated Edition of the New Revised Standard Version and the New Jerusalem Bible for liturgical use.