The 81st General Convention of The Episcopal Church (GC81) will take place June 23-28, 2024 in Louisville, Kentucky. Held every three years, the General Convention is more than a gathering of Episcopal church colleagues and friends—it is the primary governing and legislative body of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Except for the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Constitution and Canons, General Convention is the ultimate authority in The Episcopal Church. The decisions made at GC81 by voting on resolutions put forward by various legislative committees will shape the direction and policies of the church.

As of this writing, 225 resolutions are being considered by committees, with more being added almost daily. The themes of these resolutions include Racial Justice & Reconciliation, LGBTQ Advocacy, Gender, Ageism, Climate, Disability, and Economic Justice. Church Vitality, Congregational Development, Lay Formation, Theological Education, and Liturgy & Music are other legislative themes being presented.

Both clergy and lay people play a vital role in making these decisions. All bishops of The Episcopal Church, whether active or retired, have a seat and a vote in the House of Bishops.  Each diocese of The Episcopal Church, as well as the Navajoland Area Mission and the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, is represented in the House of Deputies by four clergy deputies, either priests or deacons, canonically resident in the diocese, and four lay deputies who are confirmed communicants in good standing. The Official Youth Presence is a group of 18 high school students, two from each of the nine provinces. The youth also have a seat and voice but no vote. Resolutions must pass both the House of Bishop and the House of Deputies to take effect.

The first General Convention was held in 1785 in Philadelphia, and the last meeting was in 2022 in Baltimore after a year’s delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Maine deputation is excited to head to Louisville next month to represent our diocese. The group includes: the Rev. Joshua Hill, the Rev. Cn. Lisa Fry (serving on the Mental Health and Safety Committee), the Rev. Kerry Mansir, the Rev. Lauren Kay, Mark Spahr (serving on the Dispatch of Business Committee), Christian Clough, Richard Rozene, and chair John Hennessy (Maine Deputation Chair and Co-Chair of the LGBTQ+ Caucus). The delegation also includes Catherine Mansir, one of two high school students representing Province 1 (the seven dioceses of New England). Bishop Thomas Brown also heads to GC81. He is serving on the Joint Budget Commitee.

Work for General Convention has been conducted virtually since the week after Easter and will continue through June 26. In addition to votes on resolutions, the Maine deputation will be voting for the next Presiding Bishop (this vote takes place every nine years) and president and vice president of the House of Deputies. Since 1926, the Office of the Presiding Bishop has been an elective one, whereby the House of Bishops votes for the candidate, and the House of Deputies approves that vote.

I will offer regular updates about GC81 until we arrive in Louisville, and then you will hear from your deputies daily on social media. If you have any questions about GC81, please reach out to [email protected].