The following are remarks shared by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at a special meeting of the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church on May 11 to discuss COVID-19 protocols and procedures related to the 80th General Convention. Below the remarks are links to documents shared with the council.
Allow me to share some perspective as both chair of council and presiding bishop and read to you a statement that summarized where I am, where we are, and then President Gay Clark Jennings will share as well.
President Jennings and I, in our capacities as the presiding officers of the two houses of the General Convention, have been meeting together—and have been in consultation with Canon Michael Barlowe in his capacity as the executive officer of the General Convention. Allow me to share the fruit of this work and these conversations.
First, we are not calling for the postponement of the 80th General Convention. Let me say that again: we are not calling for the postponement of the 80th General Convention. There are essential matters for the governance and good order of the church which must be transacted.
We are committed to holding the 80th General Convention in Baltimore this summer. I was blessed to serve as a priest in that remarkable city and diocese. I know how much this commitment to the city of Baltimore and to the Diocese of Maryland matters.
But obviously, with the ongoing variations of the COVID pandemic, we are likewise committed to gathering in the safest and healthiest way possible. Love of neighbor is not simply a good idea. It is a commandment of Jesus based on the teaching of Moses to always seek the good and the well-being of each other.
So, while we are committed to the 80th General Convention meeting in Baltimore this summer, that does not mean business as usual.
We have consulted with medical, epidemiological, and public health experts. We have listened to suggestions and ideas from around the church. We will be listening closely to our conversation today as Executive Council. There will be further conversations later today at the Joint Standing Committee on Planning and Arrangements. Additionally, I have consulted with the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice as part of this. This is all part of the collaborative and consultative way that we make decisions as a church in which lay people, clergy, and bishops work together to discern how, we trust, the Holy Spirit may be leading us.
It is clear to us that the safest and healthiest way to meet is for the General Convention to do so by first, observing rigorous protocols and procedures for health, safety, and pastoral care; and secondly, for the convention to be both shorter in duration and smaller in size. Let me read that again: It is clear to us that the safest and healthiest way to meet is for the General Convention to do so by first, observing rigorous protocols and procedures for health, safety, and pastoral care; and secondly for the convention to be both shorter in duration and smaller in size. Focusing on health and safety, and on our work on matters essential for the governance and good order of the church will provide guiding rubrics for both discerning the size and duration.
We will be sharing this with Planning and Arrangements, with a process for working out the specifics of how this can best be done. President Jennings will share that and the results of the survey conducted of the House of Deputies in a few moments.
Let me summarize:
- We are going to Baltimore for the 80th General Convention this summer.
- We do so to attend only to matters essential for the governance and good order of the church.
- We must do so following the most rigorous protocols for public health and safety as recommended by medical and public health experts.
- This will mean a convention that is shorter in duration and smaller in size. President Jennings will share a mechanism and process for working out the details of this as well as the survey that was recently conducted.