Note: The following is the first in an ongoing series designed to inform, educate and prepare for General Convention 2015.
[Episopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] Plans are well underway for the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in 2015, and the triennial event won’t be business as usual.
The Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, Executive Officer of the General Convention, explained, “General Convention 2015 will not be ‘business as usual’ for the General Convention of The Episcopal Church, and not just because the Church will be selecting a Presiding Bishop and considering what a ‘re-imagined’ Church might be. It will also be the gathering of a Church dedicated to continuing to reducing its carbon footprint, while using innovative software and technology to streamline its legislative work and improve on its efficiencies.”
Barlowe noted that Salt Lake City has long been known for its conservation efforts, in part because of its location but also as a result of recent development and growth. As such, General Convention Manager Lori Ionnitiu plans to combine local efforts with continuing work towards the “greenest convention ever”.
“There are so many wonderful initiatives occurring in Salt Lake City,” Ionnitiu noted. “Last May, the Salt Palace Convention Center completed one of the largest rooftop solar installations in the country which offsets about 17% of the annual electrical needs. In addition to established plans at the Center for waste reduction, recycling and diversion, water quality and consumption, and air quality, Salt Lake County has a ‘One Million Tree Program’ in place to assist in offsetting the carbon footprint of travelers.”
A “Convention of Screens”
The Joint Standing Committee on Planning and Arrangements and the General Convention Office are focusing on efforts to make GC 2015 as paperless as possible, and to reduce reliance on paper copies and improve legislative efficiencies.
The Rev. David Michaud, Diocese of Easton and advisor in the revision of legislative software and systems, calls GC 2015 a “convention of screens”. To that end, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and video monitors will be the primary media of legislative materials, and for the first time, there will be no large, dedicated print shop. This “convention of screens” will be made possible by a robust Wi-Fi system, which will be available for the first time on the floors of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.
Preparing for GC 2015
Barlowe terms these efforts “the greening and screening” of General Convention, and says this “represents but two aspects of the adaptive changes that will make GC 2015 different from previous conventions.”
In the months leading up to GC 2015, communications, training and an Episcopal MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) are in the works to prepare the church for General Convention.
Deputies, bishops, volunteers, vendors, visitors, and all those planning to attend GC 2015 are encouraged to take their part in reducing the carbon footprint. Ideas and suggestions will be part of the pre-convention information and education.
GC 2015 registration: Bishops and Deputies $495 per person. For more information, contact Ionnitiu at Lionnitiu@episcopalchurch.org, 212-716-6048