This report was written by Felicity Hallanan, diocesan representative to The Episcopal Church's Commission on World Mission, and member of Trinity, Watertown.
The 80th General Convention of the National Episcopal Church was held in Baltimore, MD, in July of 2022. Because of Covid-19 precautions, it was extremely condensed in terms of length and participation. When it concluded, it was one year behind schedule for the General Convention 81, and preparations were already under way for that to be held in 2024. If that sounds complicated, consider the next step! Shortly after GC80, then, word was sent out that applications were being accepted for the several task forces and commissions which review and propose governing practices and guidelines for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, i.e. the Episcopal Church, to be ready for 2024. Decisions about membership were made as quickly as possible and, from Nov. 14-17, about 10 of the so-called “Interim Bodies” returned to Baltimore to begin organizing and deliberating about the tasks they face.
The Diocese of Central NY was represented by our Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe; it was also my privilege to attend. Since I represented the Diocese as a Deputy at GC 80, and was a member of the then-Committee on World Mission, I applied for the same topic again. And so I was also in Baltimore again, having been accepted as a member of the Commission on World Mission.
For four, intense days at the Maritime Conference Center near the BWI airport, our group and the others focused on resolutions that had been presented at the previous General Convention, their relevancy to what is happening in the Church since, and how they apply for the future, or whether new topics need to be addressed as well. Members in the World Mission Commission came from as far as Okinawa and several places in the U.S.; we are both clergy and lay persons joined by staff from the National Church, and bring a wide range of experiences to the group. The topics we are addressing range from colonialism, and the Anglican Communication, to theological education in the U.S. and overseas, and creation care. Examples of the issues include everything from the effects of colonial practices by the Church on other cultures, to talking about differences among members of the Anglican churches worldwide but still getting along, to what guidance the Church can offer to our members about what’s happening to harm God’s world and how we can respond. The many topics will be addressed, basically by Zoom meetings over the next several months, while we aim for a December, 2023, deadline to put them in order for what’s called the Blue Book, to be presented at GC81 in Louisville, KY.
In the end, one can only return home (to snowstorms!) from such an event with increased pride and humility about the many efforts of our Church to respond to local and world concerns. Our meetings and those of the other groups, as said, will continue, and we will seek to share them with members of our Diocese.