GC81 Daily Digest, June 26: Fiesta Latina, budget advances, deputies convene ‘Episco Disco’

Posted Jun 26, 2024

Indianapolis Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, right, speaks with her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick, left, while they prepare to leave the Kentucky International Conference Center in downtown Louisville to walk to nearby Christ Church Cathedral to vote for The Episcopal Church’s 28th presiding bishop. June 26, 2024. Photo: Shireen Korkzan/Episcopal News Service

[Episcopal News Service — Louisville, Kentucky] The 81st General Convention continues to meet at the Kentucky International Convention Center. Legislative committees are still holding 7 a.m. meetings and the House of Deputies is meeting in a legislative session while the House of Bishops is gathered at Christ Church Cathedral to elect the 28th presiding bishop.

The latter is today’s big news, with full ENS coverage to come.

You can find full, regularly updated ENS coverage here. The ENS primer, or everything you need to follow the 81st General Convention, is here.

A lot can happen on any given day at General Convention. News that doesn’t make it into a full story gets filed into our daily digest.

Latino/Hispanic Ministries host ‘Fiesta Latina’ at 81st General Convention

The Episcopal Church’s Office of Latino/Hispanic Ministries hosted an evening “Fiesta Latina” on June 25, the third night of the 81st General Convention, at the Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville. The fiesta was an opportunity for Latinos and anyone involved in Latino ministry to connect, share a meal and dance.

“No matter how tired we are, there’s always a moment of celebration. We’ve done a lot of work but part of being together at General Convention is a family reunion,” the Rev. Anthony Guillén, church’s Latino/Hispanic missioner, told Episcopal News Service. “And when a family comes together, you celebrate. You have a fiesta.”

Partygoers danced to music performed live by La Salsoteca, a Bloomington, Indiana-based salsa band. The Rev. Yuri Rodríguez, a priest at the Church of the Nativity in Indianapolis, is the band’s lead singer.

House of Bishops President Julia Ayala Harris, right, and the Rev. Anthony Guillén, Latino/Hispanic Ministries’ missioner, left, speak at the “Fiesta Latina” on the third night of the 81st General Convention at Cathedral of the Assumption in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. June 25, 2024. Photo: Shireen Korkzan

Guillén said the fiesta was also a celebration of Latino/Hispanic Ministries steady growth over the years, as well as House of Deputies President Julia Ayala Harris, who earlier in the day won reelection to a second term. Ayala Harris, who is of Mexican descent, became the first woman of color to win the presidency in 2022.

“The future of The Episcopal Church is multiracial and multicultural and multiethnic, and this fiesta is exactly that,” Ayala Harris told ENS. “The people here are one piece of the future of The Episcopal Church. Latinos who are all different backgrounds, all different races, all different colors, coming together and celebrating what it means to be Episcopalian.”

During the fiesta, Ayala Harris told partygoers that several people asked what her reelection celebration plans were, and they were all surprised when she said she was going to the “Fiesta Latina.”

“This celebration is for all of us, for mi gente,” Ayala Harris said.

Ayala Harris then presented Guillén with the President’s Service Award, calling him a “servant leader who helped shape The Episcopal Church.”

-Shireen Korkzan

$143 million churchwide budget plan for 2025-27 in hands of bishops

The Episcopal Church’s proposed $143 million churchwide budget plan for 2025-27 has advanced to the House of Bishops for final adoption, after the House of Deputies passed the plan without amendment.

The bishops have until June 28, the last day of the 81st General Convention, to adopt the budget. It has not yet been placed on the bishops’ calendar.

The deputies took up the budget resolution, A164, on June 25 and approved it in a voice vote, with few deputies opposed. Feedback on the budget plan generally has been positive, with some exceptions. Throughout the budgeting process, some of the most vocal responses have been from church leaders calling for increased spending on creation care initiatives.

“The house is on fire. Mother Earth is suffering because of climate change. That means people are suffering because of climate change,” Miriam Casey, a Northern California deputy, said on the house floor before the vote on A164. “Today is the day, now is the time to take courageous actions.”

The “creation care” line in the proposed budget plan anticipates nearly $1.2 million in spending over three years, which members of the deputies’ Green Caucus have said is a woefully low investment in such a high-priority area for the church. For comparison, the budget line for “reconciliation and justice” is more than $11 million.

The proposed budget plan includes $2 million to be set aside to respond to funding requests that were included in General Convention resolutions but not in the budget. The Joint Budget Committee has scheduled a meeting in September to review all resolutions with budget implications and decide how best to allocate that $2 million, with final approval by Executive Council.

–David Paulsen

Bishops pray during morning Eucharist before voting for next presiding bishop

Before walking from the Kentucky International Conference Center to nearby Christ Church Cathedral to vote for the 28th presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, the bishops prayed during the morning Eucharist along with about 2,500 clergy and lay people.

The morning worship service was conducted in English and Spanish. The Rev. Yejide Peters Pietersen, associate dean and director of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University, preached.

“When we come together as a church, we have to be careful, because the Spirit of the Living God is absolutely pouring upon us,” Pietersen said during her sermon. “We’ve sinned, fallen short of the glory of God. But I want to bring you that good word of hope that we won’t ever get it right. …We are not  in a self-improvement project. Here we are in a project being remade by the Holy Spirit.”

A livestream of the Eucharist is here.

— Shireen Korkzan

Bishops finalize Micronesia area mission’s move to become part of Diocese of Hawai’i

After the House of Deputies passed Resolution B006 on June 25, the bishops took it up a day later and adopted the measure, combining the small area mission of Micronesia with the Diocese of Hawai’i.

The Episcopal Church’s presence in Micronesia includes a church and a school on the Pacific island of Guam and a small church on the island of Saipan, said Hawai’i Bishop Robert Fitzpatrick, who also has served as bishop-in-charge of Micronesia on behalf of the presiding bishop.

“Because of Zoom they can take part in everything we do. They’ve asked to become part of us. We’ve asked them to come into our Ohana,” Fitzpatrick said to his fellow bishops. “And you will give me the largest diocese in the world, 43,00 miles between Honolulu and Guam.”

After applause and some laughter, the bishops voted to adopt B006.

— David Paulsen

Episco Disco

President Julia Ayala Harris presides over the “Episco Disco” on June 26. Photo: David Paulsen/Episcopal News Service

‘Episco Disco’ breaks out in House of Deputies, at least briefly

This is the rhythm of the night — and it infected the House of Deputies in its evening session June 26.

The evening session was the house’s first the 81st General Convention, and President Julia Ayala Harris, as hinted earlier in the day, invited her fellow deputies to kick off the “House of Deputies After Dark” session with glow sticks and colored lights.

The overhead lights went down, and the 1993 dance hit, “Rhythm of the Night” by Corona began playing on the convention hall’s speakers. Deputations across their floor got their groove on. Even the sign language interpreter flashed a glow stick in the corner of the hall’s video monitors.

And then, almost as quickly as it had begun, the Episco Disco concluded, and the house got back to business.

With plenty of business still to finish between now and General Convention’s final day on June 28, House of Deputies After Dark could return with an evening session on June 27.

As for the House of Bishops, it had concluded its June 26 business in the afternoon session. There was no House of Bishops After Dark.

–David Paulsen