As you are probably aware, plans are well underway for our first ever Virtual Diocesan Convention, to be held online October 23 and 24, 2020. In fact, last Saturday members of Diocesan Council participated in an audio/visual “practice” convention so that those responsible for the technology required for a virtual convention could make sure everything they have put into place actually works! I hope that many of you will join us for this ground-breaking event. You don’t have to be a delegate to watch the proceedings and it’s a great way to learn about what’s happening in our diocese. Besides, who doesn’t want to be part of the very first virtual Diocesan Convention and enjoy our Friday night social time with Bishop Perry to meet new friends, renew existing relationships, and yes…participate in a song send-off at the end featuring the Bishop’s very own disco ball?!
Our Diocesan Convention isn’t the only convention making preparations. The 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church will be held next year and the September e-Newsletter detailing General Convention updates was delivered to inboxes across The Episcopal Church last Monday.
According to the official website, “General Convention is the governing body of The Episcopal Church that meets every three years. It is a bicameral legislature that includes the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, composed of deputies and bishops from each diocese. During its triennial meeting deputies and bishops consider a wide range of important matters facing the Church. In the interim between triennial meetings, various committees, commissions, agencies, boards and task forces created by the General Convention meet to implement the decisions and carry on the work of the General Convention.”
The Nuts and Bolts Blog has been the principle means for our diocese to distribute information about the important work of General Convention to the people of our diocese. Our hope has always been that once the people are equipped with information and resources, they can give life to the resolutions approved by General Convention by implementing them in their congregations and their local communities.
Since the fall of 2018, the Nuts and Bolts Blog has been writing about the resolutions that came out of the work done at the 79th General Convention. We thought you might find it interesting to hear some of the updates on the 80th General Convention, which is where the resolutions will come from that we will write about beginning in the fall of 2021.
From the September e-News:
Update on the 80th General Convention
The ongoing pandemic has led to rapid changes in every aspect of ministry and church life. With this in mind, church leadership is diligently exploring all possibilities regarding the 80th General Convention (June 30–July 9, 2021). Every decision regarding the General Convention must be made with due care for the health of each member of the beloved community, our hosting community and diocese, and in conjunction with local and national public health mandates. Discussions have been complicated by the fact that many of our service providers (including hotel and facilities staff) have been furloughed or have lost their positions during this pandemic. We expect that an announcement about the 80th General Convention will be made this autumn.
Behind the Software of the General Convention
The General Convention Office (GCO) uses several custom-built applications for our work. Many people know the groups module of the Extranet, which is used by Interim Bodies and Legislative Committees. But they may not be aware that the Extranet has much more than the group messaging and file sharing functions! It also contains contact management, group management, meeting management, bishop elections, deputy certification, and web file storage; and it is our primary database for storing a variety of data which we use daily. In addition, we have Legislative software, which includes the processing system and the virtual binder; we have software for housing, registration and onsite meetings at the General Convention; and we have two new systems launched this year: the Blue Book software, and the Executive Council legislation software. All of these are maintained by a terrific third-party team of developers and software engineers who have worked with the GCO for years. In addition, run by a different technical team, we have custom software used for the Parochial reports and the work to deal with that data; and we use commercial software alongside all our custom software.
Software is a dynamic thing. No software is ever finished. Instead it requires regular monitoring and maintenance, security patches, and full upgrades. Our developer team also does the regular maintenance and upgrades required for our custom software. In fact, we have another behind-the-scenes upgrade coming up in October of 2020. Fortunately, our software team members are based all over the world, which makes it possible for them to do upgrades in what would be the middle of the night for us. Our custom systems will be down Saturday night October 17th through Sunday morning October 18th. This will include the Extranet and the Blue Book systems, which are used by many interim body members. This is for an upgrade of the underlying Ruby on Rails software. Our software developers have been working since early September to ensure this upgrade goes smoothly with minimal interruption.
As you can see, the GCO is a very high-tech office. We are grateful that we have these tools. We have a good return on investment with our software, which enables us to do a great many things we could not do otherwise. The next time you login to the Extranet, view information on our website, look at the Virtual Binder online, or access one of our online PDF publications, remember that none of this would be possible without the custom software we run, and the work and attention applied to maintain and improve those systems.
Interim Bodies Updates and Meeting Minutes
Even in the midst of these challenging times, Interim Bodies have been hard at work!
Meeting minutes are public documents and posted on the “Minutes” tab under each Interim Body. Minutes help communicate all the good work that is happening to the wider Church. They are also an important part of the official records of the work between General Conventions and are preserved each triennium in the Archives of The Episcopal Church.
If you would like to receive the General Convention Office E-News mailing directly in your inbox you can join their email list. Click here to sign up.
Let us pray…
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given your Holy
Spirit to abide with us for ever: we ask you to bless
the bishops, clergy and laity soon to be assembled in your Name
with your Spirit’s grace and presence,
that your Church, being preserved in true faith and godly
discipline, may fulfill all the mind of him who loved it and
gave himself for it, your Son Jesus Christ our Savior; who
lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the same Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP pg. 204 ~ with modifications)
~ The Rev. Diana Walworth, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council