GCOYP: The House of Deputies is like our second home
General Convention can be intimidating. On our first day on the floor, the Official Youth Presence filed into our seats in the back of the House. We looked out on hundreds of people, and tables set up within an impossibly large room. We sat stiffly in our chairs, listening as carefully as we could to the discussion before the floor (this was during orientation so discussion largely revolved around the proper ways to use iPads). I scanned the crowd for my diocesan deputation, which turned out to be across the room, what seemed like a mile away.
As days have gone on, however, the House of Deputies has become a second home to the GCOYP and other deputies. I know there have been days where I spend more time on the House floor than in my hotel room. It is not just the time spent in the House that alters perceptions, however. It is also the various uniquenesses that bring life to a room that is naturally all grey: grey walls, grey floor, and a grey ceiling covered with cold metal pipes.
The first uniqueness I noticed was the decorations that have appeared on top of the pillars that mark each deputation; they add personality to each area. Some wonderful person even left a couple of stuffed animals and other decorations so that the GCOYP could join in. As the days continue, gifts continuously appear on our tables. From stress balls to candies, each gift brings with it a little bit of brightness to start our day.
People also bring new life to this place. Although strict regulation is necessary to allow debate in such a large body of government, Robert’s Rules of Order can seem stifling as the the the hours pass. My first recollection of laughter in the House started with a vote. As the results were revealed two pigeons flew across the room. After so dramatically making their presence known, one of the pigeons seems to have fully accepted its role as the comic relief of General Convention. At one point it even landed at a microphone, seemingly doing its best to offer its opinion on the issue before a Convention.
Humans do quite a good job bringing life into the room. The camera, which I assume is operated by a human being, has developed an entertaining ability to identify and zoom in on interesting events, from the aforementioned pigeon to notes held up by youth, sending laughter throughout the house. One of the most impactful of actions by the House occurred after the vote electing the president of the House of Deputies. Despite the rules, the house gave a standing ovation in response to the result: the re-election of the Rev. Gay Jennings as President of the House of Deputies.
On July 9, the Official Youth Presence was given an opportunity to contribute our own bit of life to the house. President Gay Jennings invited us forward, and we were able to stand at the front while one of us addressed the house. To stand before the House was an exhilarating experience, and I hope through we were able to do our part to bring life and interest to the House of Deputies. I know that, when I stood there after my peer’s speech (read her speech here), I felt honored and acknowledged by the deputies and the audience. It gave me confidence that the voice of youth is heard and will be heard.
It has been an honor to be part of the House of Deputies and to bring my own uniqueness and my own life into this room. As General Convention continues, I have hope that all youth will grow in the role that they play in this church, and will be given many chances to use their own lives to challenge and revitalize the church of today.
Written by Claire Parish.