General Convention Newsletter
Tomorrow, the 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church begins. And while this time will be different, General Convention remains the governing body of the Church and the Church’s highest temporal authority. General Convention meets in two legislative Houses, the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, and each House meets to consider and adopt resolutions. If a resolution receives a majority of votes in each House, it passes and becomes an Act of Convention.
This year, General Convention will consider 412 resolutions, addressing an array of topics including liturgy, Christian formation, Constitution and Canons, and many others. The Church will also consider resolutions that clarify the Church’s stance on public policy matters and that direct the Office of Government Relations to take action. Over the past several months, a number of committees, in particular Social Justice and International Policy, Social Justice and United States Policy, Environmental Stewardship & Care of Creation, Racial Justice & Reconciliation, and Stewardship & Socially Responsible Investing, have considered resolutions that, if passed, will direct and shape our advocacy and government engagement.
We are sometimes asked if General Convention resolutions focused on public policy matters, and if anyone in government cares what the 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church has resolved. We always answer: yes! These resolutions do matter.
The Office’s mandate charges us to represent the policy positions of the Church to the government in Washington. We do so through our behind-the-scenes advocacy, our action alerts, engaging with the Episcopal Public Policy Network, and supporting the Church by educating and equipping members to learn more about public policy issues and encouraging them to become involved in civic life.
When a resolution passes on a public policy issue, OGR communicates the Church’s stance to Congress and the Administration, as we are requested to do. But it doesn’t end there! In the months and years ahead, we engage with and build relationships with specific Congressional offices, often prioritizing members who sit on relevant committees. We work with Congressional offices before legislation is introduced; we help to find co-sponsors for legislation, and then we advocate for hearings and ultimately a vote on legislation that is in line with the General Convention resolution. We have private meetings with career and foreign government officials, including in the White House, on the Church’s public policies, shaping the conversation and adding a valuable perspective for policymakers to consider. We send action alerts on legislation that comes from General Convention resolutions, enabling tens of thousands of messages to be sent to Congress from engaged Episcopalians that amplify the Church’s voice.
Resolutions don’t just end when Convention ends – that is when our work in the Office of Government Relations – and your work as members of the Episcopal Public Policy Network – begins! In the coming weeks, we will explore many ways that the work of General Convention resonates in the political and policy advocacy sphere. We hope to show the impact of the Church’s advocacy! We will share some ways that the Office of Government Relations ensures that General Convention resolutions are carried out and that Episcopalians have the opportunity to help implement them.
We all have an opportunity to amplify the Church’s public witness on important issues of the day.
To all of you who will be traveling to Convention, we wish you safe travels, we pray for your wisdom and discernment, and we thank you for your important work. We will miss being there with you and hope we can still be a resource if needed.
For those who wish to stay up to date on what is happening, you can find the General Convention media hub here.
Thank you for your continued advocacy,
The Office of Government Relations
The Office of Government Relations