I am well and truly back from General Convention now.
I have taken enough naps, petted my cats enough, knit enough, and reflected enough to be back from the headspace of 10 frantic days in Austin.
I always approach General Convention with the same sense of creeping dread. “Oh dear God, this will be awful. It will be an unending slog of horrible and fighting and why do I do this to myself?” This year was the same. This year, for the first time, I had directly contributed to many of the 517 (!) resolutions, so I felt personally invested in a new way.***
I have said several times that ordination’s closest comparison is marriage. You have to be willing, if you want to be a priest, to fall in love with an institution, while knowing full well that this institution is fallible and broken, and prone to bad decision-making. You have to be vulnerable to a system, while knowing that the system does not always come through. The flip side of that, however, is that you’re bound to this erstwhile institution in love, so every time it falls short, you are able to confront it and shake the gates, and tell it to step up.
This convention, if you boiled it down, was a lot of faithful women doing a lot of gate-shaking. Over and over again, we texted each other encouragement, we met in hallways, and over hurried lunches, and consoled each other when the path looked rockier than it did before. We sat in committees, stood at the microphone, calmly told our stories, and outlined the change we wanted to see; we, who have been in love with this Church that at times hasn’t known how to love us back, have now started demanding better from this branch of the Body of Christ.
In the end, I think we managed to do a fair amount. The systemic problems remain, as they do in the rest of society. There’s still a lot of work to do. But gone forever, I hope, is the notion that the Church can take women’s participation and presence for granted, without ensuring that we are also cherished and loved as equal members in this body.
If you want a practical list, here’s what the Special Taskforce got done:
- asked for any prayer book revision to include expansive language for God
- established a Truth and Reconciliation taskforce to deal with issues around gender, racial inequality
- made discrimination in hiring forbidden under canon
- defined and forbade retaliation under canon
- provide confidentiality for whistleblowers in Title IV
- create a database for Title IV matters, and resolutions
- asked the Standing Commission for Structure, Governance, Constitution, and Canons to create a plan for a churchwide disciplinary process, including a churchwide intake officer position
- lifted the statute of limitations on all sexual misconduct claims, beginning Jan 1, 2019 and ending Dec 31, 2021
***Let’s be clear: I always feel invested in SOME way. I am nothing if not opinionated. But this time felt different.