Executive Council calls special meeting as General Convention COVID-19 risk raises anxiety – Episcopal News Service

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry opens the 79th General Convention’s first TEConversation This summer 6, that one on racial reconciliation. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service] Episcopal Church leaders, facing growing concerns about the chance of COVID-19 outbreaks in the 80th General Convention, will convene a unique meeting of Executive Council on May 11 to go over safety safeguards with this summer’s churchwide gathering.

Executive Council will come across at 9 a.m. Eastern May 11 on Zoom, based on information shared online May 5 by home of Deputies. The special meeting was known as, within rarely used provision within the church’s Canons, by six people of Executive Council, such as the chairs from the governing body’s four standing committees.

The reason is to discuss “public health insurance and pastoral protocols and operations that needs to be in position for General Convention attendees and also the relative merits of meeting in Baltimore,” based on the House of Deputies’ publish.

The 80th General Convention initially have been scheduled for 2021 but was postponed for any year due to the pandemic. It now’s set to occur This summer 7-14 in Baltimore, Maryland. Masks and evidence of vaccination is going to be needed of attendees, and church leaders still consider additional safeguards as necessary.

A number of individuals who’re scheduled to go to General Convention, however, have expressed apprehension in recent days within the intend to meet personally at this type of large churchwide gathering, that also can serve as the meeting from the church’s primary governing body.

Now, inside a blog publish shared broadly on Twitter, the Rev. Megan Castellan, a priest in Ithaca, New You are able to, contended that holding an in-person General Convention could be “a huge mistake.”

“It isn’t like our church is not aware from the pandemic In my opinion the leadership is attempting to deal with it whilst attempting to convene Convention. The issues, though, are legion, and don’t disappear due to individuals good intentions,” authored Castellan, who works as a deputy for that Diocese of Central New You are able to. “We have to cancel Convention. Until are going to it securely. Until are going to it without having to be hypocrites. Until are going to it inside the Gospel.”

The Rev. Scott Gunn, a deputy for that Diocese of Southern Ohio and executive director of Forward Movement, shared Castellan’s blog publish and echoed her concerns.

“If you’re a deputy or bishop within the Episcopal Church, look at this and ponder,” Gunn stated on Twitter. “Does it truly seem sensible to possess #gc80 personally? Don’t let get it done online this time around?”

The Rev. Nurya Love Parish, a priest and deputy within the Diocese of Western Michigan, also shared Castellan’s blog publish on Twitter. “This is really a compelling argument the #Episcopal Church shouldn’t gather this summer time for General Convention, and it is worth attention,” Parish stated.

Several people of Executive Council elevated their very own concerns throughout their April 20-23 meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico, concerning the propriety of holding General Convention personally at any given time once the coronavirus, though greatly reduced from the winter peak, is still circulating broadly. Previously month, new subvariants have started pushing situation counts in greater within the U . s . States, though hospitalizations and fatalities have continued to be relatively low. Some council people also noted the risks of lengthy COVID and also the elevated risk to seniors and individuals with underlying health problems.

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the home of Deputies, responded in those days by saying the overall Convention Office ongoing to organize for a variety of public health scenarios while planning the in-person gathering in Baltimore. The Joint Standing Committee on Planning and Arrangement, meanwhile, is anticipated soon to produce some guiding concepts it’ll follow in answering the evolving coronavirus threat. The church’s presiding officer also provide met with public health professionals on additional risk minimization steps, and Executive Council approved $50,000 for any public health expert to advise Jennings on procedures and policies.

The hazards of a big in-person gathering were underscored when a minimum of eight people, including Jennings, tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the manager Council. About 60 council people, staff and visitors had attended the meeting in San Juan, even though some council’s 40 voting people attended online.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry talks to Executive Council on April 20, 2022, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Photo: Egan Millard/Episcopal News Service.

Individually, news that a minimum of 41 individuals the Diocese of Pennsylvania tested positive for that virus after attending a local clergy conference a week ago has fueled additional anxiety among church leaders over COVID-19 risks. The Pennsylvania local clergy reported mild signs and symptoms, and none were hospitalized, based on a letter towards the diocese from Bishop Daniel Gutiérrez.

Like a bicameral governing body, General Convention splits its authority between home of Bishops and House of Deputies. General Convention typically meets inside a different city every 3 years and it is a hub for legislative activity, networking and fellowship. Countless bishops and deputies attend, in addition to a large number of church staff people, representatives of church-affiliated organizations, vendors and observers.

The main one-year postponement has permitted committees to carry some conferences and proceedings online the very first time the proceedings are actually ongoing. Holding proceedings online also offers helped the church achieve its objective of lowering the triennial gathering’s duration from 10 to eight days.

– David Paulsen is definitely an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He is able to be arrived at at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.