EDOD Delegates at General Convention
The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church is meeting in Austin for its Triennial meeting. The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas has sent eight delegates: The Rev. Canon Victoria Heard, The Rev. Dr. Samira Izadi Page, The Very Rev. Neal Michell, The Rev. Canon Michael Gilton, Carrie Boren Headington, William Murchison, Lee Spence, and Lana Valenta.
Some Alternates have attended the meeting. The alternates are: The Rev. Greg Methvin, The Rev. Matthew Olver, the Rev. Craig Reed, Jolayne LaCour, Anne Schmidt, William McGannon and Don Mills. Diocesan Executive Assistant to the Bishop, Virginia Wilder, is in attendance as a volunteer.
McGannon said he was impressed with the peaceful politics. “I attended the House of Deputies as a visitor, where I sat in the far-removed visitor section and listened as delegates spoke to the resolution on creating a new prayer book," he said. "The process was very thoughtful and the chair maintained perfect order. What struck me most was the respect and good manners used in this process as I perhaps wrongfully expected anger and tempers to be exposed.”
He also noted that people walking around seemed to be having fun. “As I walked through the exhibit hall it occurred to me how warm and friendly the vendors were to one another and to the attendees who were browsing,” he said. “It reminded me of summer at Camp All Saints where the air is full of excitement and joy and people are happy to be where they are, doing what they are doing.
The convention includes a House of Bishops with 154 registered, and a House of Deputies, which has 848 in attendance. There are 1040 registered guests, 948 volunteers, 256 booths and 2,100 hotel rooms booked.
With thousands of people at the convention, Gilton said he enjoys making new friends. “For me, an unapologetic extrovert, I love that General Convention gives me the opportunity to meet new people from across our Church,” he said. “This morning I struck up conversation with a deputy from Michigan about Detroit real estate, from the Virgin Islands about the size of her diocese, from Virginia about recruiting clergy, from Western Louisiana about church planting, and from Tennessee about figs ... all in about 45 minutes! And, of course, always about Jesus.”
The best part of meeting with thousands of believers is during times of worship and praise, Headington said. “We are coming together as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement to share the good news,” she said. “Seeing Jesus lifted high was uniting and inspiring.”
Another illustration of seeing God at work included the visit and prayer by hundreds of Episcopalians outside the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a facility that houses women who have been separated from their children at the Mexico border. “I attended the rally with Bishop George Sumner, his wife Stephanie, the Rev. Victoria Heard and the Rev. Dr. Samira Izadi Page,” Headington said. “A woman who lives across the street said she can hear wailing at night from the women who are detained. It was powerful seeing the Church come together and speak out against this injustice.”
Murchison said that as a delegate he wants to influence any debate about changing the Book of Common Prayer. “I'm on the liturgy committee, and my hope is to help prevent needless tampering with a prayer book whose resources we have yet to plumb after the dissensions and dust-ups that the book's introduction precipitated in 1979,” he said. “If we retain the present Book of Common Prayer as a vehicle of our belief and witness, and preserve it from serious harm, I believe we will owe General Convention substantial gratitude.”
Listening to the words of love from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was a treat, said Spence. “We watched the Presiding Bishop winding and weaving through an hour-long narrative about love and Jesus, as his translator followed right on his heels, mirroring his every step and movement. Both young and old were enchanted by their choreography as well as by the powerful message, and all truly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit, Spence said.
“Following this truly amazing event, we adjourned to an outdoor patio where we were treated to Texas barbecue and all “the fixin’s” including both a country and western band and a mariachi ensemble,” Spence added If you haven’t had an Austin slider, you haven’t had barbecue.”
Page said she was moved by the presentation of Bernadette Demietieff from the Diocese of Alaska who spoke about the climates effect on the state. “I had no idea about what was going on with the nations in Alaska and how the climate has and is impacting them,” she said. “It was an emotional testimony.”
The most impressive moment is realizing how hard the diocesan delegates work at convention, McGannon said. “My hat is off to our delegates who are on point from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m., each day. My take away is: I’m grateful to be an Episcopalian and a member of the Dallas Diocese.”
The convention is being livestreamed and can be watched here until it concludes its business July 13.