Sunday, July 12, 2009

Legislative Committee # 12 – Evangelism

A lot of my time this week was spent serving as a member of Committee #12 – Evangelism. Although I have now served for more than 8 years as a member of the Anti-Racism Committee of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, this is the first time I have served on a legislative committee at General Convention. The Antiracism Committee meets several times during the years between General Conventions. A legislative committee meets during General Convention and is an inherent part of the legislative process.
Prior to General Convention, reports were prepared by the various agencies, commissions, committees and boards of the Episcopal Church for inclusion in the “Blue Book” (which this year has a maroon cover!). Almost all reports conclude with proposed resolutions to be placed before each of the two houses of Convention; the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.
Through the three years preceding General Convention, other parts of the Church – dioceses, interest groups and individuals, etc – also submit resolutions for consideration by General Convention. Finally, resolutions for consideration are produced during General Convention by the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.
Once a resolution has been submitted, the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Bishops determine which of the many legislative committees the resolution should be sent to in order for hearings to be held and for the resolution to be perfected. Legislative Committees must allow open public hearings on every resolution. These hearings are not just open to Deputes and Bishops, but all persons may be present and anyone is permitted to sign up and to speak to a resolution.
After public hearings, members of legislative committees attempt to “perfect resolutions” and decide what to do with them. Committees can approve resolutions as submitted; amend them, propose substitutes or ask to have them referred to a different committee or recommend discharge. No matter what decision is made, including discharge, the resolution will be presented to both houses of General Convention for action.
Committee #12 – Evangelism, only had 8 resolutions to consider. Other committees had more than 50!
Most days this past week, legislative committees met in the morning at 7:30 AM and worked until 9:30 am, when we left for worship and, usually, legislative sessions of the House of Deputies. We reconvened at 7:30 pm and worked until 9:00 pm. It makes for a long day. My committee’s work is done for now. Unless a resolution is referred back to us, our legislative committee will not meet again. Other subcommittees, and especially the Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, on which Southeast Florida Lay Deputy Tom O’Brien serves, will continue to meet until the General Convention adjourns next Friday. They deserve our thanks. It is a lot of work on behalf of us all. To see a list and texts of the resolutions that are before us, and especially the resolutions on evangelism, go to Click here: View Legislation

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