For more than an hour last Saturday, Bishop Johnson and eight deputies fielded questions about the outcome and impact of the recent General Convention.
Several people asked about the Episcopal Church’s relationship with the Anglican Communion and the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s relationship to the Episcopal Church.
“We are in very good shape,” replied lay deputy Steve Stagnitta, who met with other dioceses that are also rebuilding. “They were very impressed with the leadership [here] and the number of parishes we still have.”
When asked to list important resolutions and their impact on parishes, Bishop Johnson talked about two items he called “justice resolutions” – mandatory pension and medical insurance plans for clergy & lay employees. “It’s hard to get anything through General Convention that’s mandatory.”
The deputation chairman, the Rev. Dr. James Simons, pointed to several new supplemental liturgical resources. One, “Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints,” now includes the late Sam Shoemaker of Calvary Church. Another, “Rachel’s Tears, Hannah’s Hope”, is for families who have lost children, including a rite for women who have experienced abortion.
“It passed both houses without any controversy, which is even more remarkable,” said Dr. Simons.
Lay deputy Mary Roehrich said huge impact will be felt by a budget that has been slashed by 14% and will result in at least 30 layoffs among the Episcopal Church staff.
Other topics covered included disciplinary canons, bishops’ elections, and whether there is still room for conservatives in the Episcopal Church’s “Big Tent.” (Yes, said the bishop and several deputies.)
No one directly asked about two attention-getting resolutions dealing with sexuality. But before parishioner Jon Delano of St. Paul’s could finish a question about whether the media had “misinterpreted this whole convention,” Mary Roehrich emphatically answered “Yes!”
Bishop Johnson described both gender-issue resolutions as a description of where things stand. “We did not turn the clock back, we did not move the clock forward,” he said.
As the hour and 15 minute session ended, each deputy reflected on their most hopeful moment at General Convention.
A recording of the July 25th event, which was held at St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, can be heard by clicking the play button below.