A letter to Episcopalians from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings.
Dear Bishops and Deputies:
When we last wrote to you about the 80th General Convention, in late July, we committed to reevaluating the public health situation, consulting with epidemiologists, and making a final decision about how the convention would proceed. We have taken these steps, and earlier today, Executive Council consented unanimously to our decision.
With thanks to everyone who has worked to make this possible, we are ready to announce that the 80th General Convention will take place from July 7-14, 2022, in Baltimore, Maryland. These dates, which will be preceded by several days of the usual preparatory meetings, provide for eight days of legislative business; it is possible that ongoing discussions with the Baltimore Convention Center and our host hotels will make it possible to add one day to this schedule.
Like you, we have spent the last several months riding waves of pandemic news. Although vaccine trials are reporting new and encouraging results, the United States is now gripped by its highest infection rates since the pandemic began, and more than a quarter of a million Americans have died. We hope that both vaccines and a newly energized response from the federal government will begin to ease the pandemic’s grip in 2021, but it is unlikely that even highly effective vaccines and robust federal intervention would permit us to gather as many as 10,000 people safely by next summer, as we had originally planned.
We are grateful to the staff of the General Convention Office and our partners at the Baltimore Convention Center and Visit Baltimore for working with us to reschedule General Convention for 2022 without significant contractual penalties. Their willingness to confirm dates in the first half of July is especially welcome, since meeting at that time will provide ample travel time for those who also plan to attend the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England from July 27 to August 8, 2022.
Between now and July 2022, the work of General Convention will take shape in new ways. During the summer of 2021, we will hold an online convocation of worship and prayer to help us hear what the Spirit is saying to the church as we prepare to gather at General Convention. And to make best use of the adaptive moment now facing us, we will appoint both deputy and bishop legislative committees in 2021, charging them to begin their work virtually using the new online and Zoom skills that we have all gained this year.
In 2021, we will also hold an online election to choose the members of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop so that group will have ample time to complete its work before the 81st General Convention in 2024, when the church will choose a new presiding bishop. In the coming weeks, we will be in touch with more detail about how people now serving in various elected and appointed positions will continue during 2021.
Since March, Episcopalians across the church have responded to our pandemic-stricken communities with compassionate service and committed advocacy, bearing witness to our promise to seek and serve Christ in all persons. In the coming months, our commitment to the Gospel will be even more essential to our communities and congregations. Especially in these difficult days, may we hold fast to loving one another as Jesus commanded and take heart in the promise of a joyful reunion in 2022.
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings
President, House of Deputies