The First Legislative Day
The Rev. Stephen E. Moore
Clergy Deputy to General Convention
At last, President Anderson's gavel hit the sound block in the House of Deputies and the first legislative session of the first legislative day was under way. Sweetness sat in her place on the podium, just behind Madame President. She couldn't get away with much while being watched by a thousand people and televised.
There is a rule (among hundreds) in the House of Deputies which prohibits applause, cheering, booing and any other kind of demonstration without the permission of the president. Not that she would ever permit booing; this is not the British Parliament! When Gregory Straub, the Secretary of Convention, introduced his staff on the dais and called out Dede's name, I whooped and clapped from my place with the deputation, only to be shushed by the president and reminded of the rule. If you're gonna be reprimanded by the chair, you might as well get it out of the way on the very first legislative day.
The "OLYMPIA" standard next to our tables is festooned with a rosette of yellow ribbon. This indicates that a "senior deputy" can be found there among our eight people. Junior deputies sometimes need quick access to expertise on the floor of the house. The President recognized Duncan Bayne, who has earned a yellow ribbon on his name badge for his service at eight General Conventions.
The pace of legislation begins with the easy stuff: some resolutions setting dates and times certain at which to hold certain elections, a resolution commending the Presiding Bishop for her ministry over the past six years, a resolution challenging every congregation in the Episcopal Church to have a website by 2015.
It will be another few days before we get into the hotly contested stuff such as the budget. A "template" for a compromise budget was released by PB&F (the committee which prepares the final budget for adoption) and it, like the two drafts before it, does NOT include funding for the General Ordination Examination. This is gonna be a fight.
Deputies who wish to speak at General Convention must identify themselves by saying their name and diocese when first they come to the microphone. There was a resolution proposed (D-034) which would have required every deputy who spoke to any measure involving money to identify not only their diocese but what percent of their diocese's income was actually paid to the national church in the previous year. The rationale was that those who fail to meet their full asking (unlike the Diocese of Olympia) ought have less to say about how the national church's budget is spent. Although the resolution was defeated, it did suggest several interesting applications of its underlying principle. Perhaps every delegate who speaks to a financial matter at a diocesan convention ought be required to state whether or not the congregation from which the speaker comes has paid its diocesan assessment in full. And, if that is a good idea, perhaps it ought be extended to the parochial annual meeting, such that every speaker who talks about how the parish budget should to be spent ought be required to disclose what percentage of their income they pledge to the church. Or not.
I will, from time to time, make clear my own thinking on disputed matters which come before GC77. This is therefor a good time to make clear that the opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone (the product of his theologically-orthodox but otherwise off-kilter brain) and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the bishop, clergy and/or people of the Diocese of Olympia, The Episcopal Church, the World-Wide Anglican Communion, or the Communion of Saints ... except on those issues where they are smart enough to agree with me.