Episcopal Convention Opens Sept. 11 in Minnesota

Episcopal News Service. August 10, 1976 [76262]

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Episcopal Church will open its sixty-fifth triennial General Convention at the St. Paul, Minnesota Civic Center on Saturday, September 11, with a lengthy agenda of concerns that include two basic issues of potential controversy.

After the opening service in St. Paul, the remainder of the Convention's sessions will be in the Minneapolis Auditorium and Convention Hall.

The Episcopal Convention is one of the largest -- 235 bishops and 912 lay and clerical deputies -- and one of the longest -- 13 days -- among the non-commercial conventions in the U.S. The bicameral legislative body -- composed of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops -- is perhaps the only one of its kind among the religious bodies in the U.S.

All Episcopal Church bishops -- except those who resign their jurisdictions for a reason not specified in the Canons -- comprise the voting membership of the House of Bishops. Bishops from other churches or provinces of the world-wide 46.7 million member Anglican Communion -- of which the three million member Episcopal Church in the U.S. is a part -- may be granted a seat and voice but no vote (there are three such members now).

The House of Deputies is composed of four clergy and four lay deputies (delegates) from each of the Church's 114 jurisdictions -- 93 dioceses in the U.S., 20 overseas dioceses, and the Convocation of American Churches in Europe.

Each of the two Houses sits and deliberates separately and legislation may originate in either body, though both Houses must concur in any legislative action, very much like the Senate and House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress. Resolutions submitted to each of the Houses are referred to an appropriate committee which recommends a course of action to the House. The committee process makes it difficult to schedule agenda items in each House in advance as to specific day and hour.

To complicate the logistics of the Convention, there are many other meetings and conventions in progress at the same time. The largest of these -- some 500 participants from the Episcopal Church throughout the world -- is the Triennial Meeting of the Women of the Church, which opens at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 11, and closes at noon on Wednesday, September 22.

Two groups of professional communicators -- the Episcopal Communicators and the Religion Newswriters Association -- will hold their annual conventions in Minneapolis the first and second weekends respectively. Other groups which have announced plans to get together during the Convention are the Church Periodical Club, the National Association of Diocesan Altar Guilds, the National Conference of Deaconesses, the Daughters of the King, the American Church Union, the Episcopal Society for Ministry in Higher Education, Coalition 14, and the Seabury Press 25th anniversary luncheon symposium.

Proposals to authorize revision of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and to approve the ordination of women as priests and bishops are likely to stir impassioned and lively debate in the two Houses during the first full week of the Convention. The presi -- dents of the two Houses -- the Rt. Rev. John M. Allin, Presiding Bishop, and the Rev. John B. Coburn -- have decided that the House of Bishops will be the first to consider the controversial subject of the ordination of women, while Prayer Book revision resolutions will be introduced jointly in the two Houses.

Other issues which the Convention will face include clergy pensions, postulancy, canonical change, General Convention functions, a program and budget for 1977-1979, evangelism, community outreach, hunger, injustice and poverty, world peace, abortion, self-determination, homosexuality, housing, education, lay ministries, and ecumenism.

A Service of Praise and Preparation will open the 65th General Convention at the 15,000-seat St. Paul Civic Center on Saturday, September 11, at 4:00 p.m. The service will include a bidding by the Bishop of Minnesota, the Rt. Rev. Philip F. McNairy; an address by Presiding Bishop Allin; a reaffirmation of the Baptismal Covenant by deputies and bishops; confession and absolution; the exchange of the peace; prayers offered in the varied languages in use throughout the Episcopal Church; and a charge by Bishop Allin to the bishops and deputies as to their responsibilities in the deliberations of the Convention.

Featured in the worship service will be special music by the Thomas Jefferson Senior High School Concert Band of Bloomington, Minn.

A second major service of the Convention will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 19, in the 6,000-seat Minneapolis Auditorium, which will be a Celebration of the Holy Eucharist with the Ingathering of the United Thank Offering. The order of service will be rite I, the more traditional of the two services featured in the Draft Proposed Book of Common Prayer which the Standing Liturgical Commission is presenting to the Convention for adoption.

The principal concelebrant at the Communion will be the Presiding Bishop, assisted at the high altar and side altars by bishops and other ministers.

The people's musical setting for the ordinary of the Eucharist is by Healey Willan from the 1940 hymnal. Prayers and lessons are for a Votive Eucharist of the Holy Spirit.

Featured will be the Ingathering of the United Thank Offering by diocesan representatives of thousands of Episcopal women, a significant contribution to the world-wide mission of the Church. The UTO total which was presented at the last Convention in 1973 amounted to $1,397,159.65, which was allocated by the women's Triennial for 87 different projects in the U.S. and overseas. Some $47 million has been allocated since the founding of the UTO in 1889.

The congregation's general offering at the September 19 service will be given to the UTO as well.

The sermon at this service will be given by the Most Rev. and Rt. Hon. Donald Coggan, Archbishop of Canterbury, and spiritual leader of the world-wide Anglican Communion. Dr. Coggan will be in Minneapolis Sept. 16 to 19 and will address both Houses on Friday, Sept. 17. While in the United States, the Archbishop will also visit in the Dioceses of Newark, Washington, Bethlehem, Long Island, and New York.

The overall musical direction of these two services is by Howard Don Small, organist-choirmaster at the Cathedral of St. Mark, Minneapolis. The Rev. T. Ronald Taylor, St. Paul's-on-the-Hill Church, St. Paul, is coordinator for the worship committee for Convention.

An evening in observance of the bicentennial of the nation and in honor of the Presiding Bishop is scheduled for Friday, September 17, at 8:00 p.m. The occasion is sponsored by the Executive Council Committee on the Observance of the Bicentennial of the Nation and the Diocese of Minnesota. A program of music by the United States composer, Duke Ellington, will be featured. The Ellington Orchestra under the Duke's son, Mercer, will be joined by a chorus from churches in the Diocese of Minnesota and dancers from the Nancy Hauser Dance Company of Minneapolis.

Some 200 exhibits -- church-related and commercial -- will provide a setting for browsing, buying, and gaining information about the work of the Church.

Two familiar and popular features of previous Conventions -- the daytime Common Ground and the evening Gathering Place -- will continue the tradition of fellowship and entertainment at the 1976 Convention. The Common Ground, located conveniently near the main entrance to the Minneapolis Convention Hall, will offer a place to rest and relax during the Convention hours. Visitors there may watch the proceedings in the two Houses on closed circuit television. The Common Ground will be staffed by the Diocese of Minnesota.

The nighttime Gathering Place, to be held in the Hall of Cities (lower lobby) at the nearby Leamington Hotel, will open about 9:30 p.m. each evening and will feature 45 minutes of entertainment as well as provide a place for conversation and refreshments. The Rev. Ronald C. Bauer, St. David's Church, Minnetonka, Minn., is the manager of the Gathering Place and entertainment will include a mime act and the Rev. Ian Mitchell.

Leaders of the General Convention include the Rt. Rev. John M. Allin, Presiding Bishop; the Rev. John B. Coburn, President of the House of Deputies; the Rt. Rev. Scott Field Bailey, Bishop Coadjutor of West Texas, Secretary of the House of Bishops, and Executive Officer of the Convention; and the Rev. James R. Gundrum, SecretaryTreasurer of the Convention.

Arrangements for the Convention have been made through the office of the General Convention Manager, Bob N. Wallace of Louisville, Ky. Presiding Officer of the Triennial Meeting of the Women of the Church is Mrs. Carter Chinnis, Alexandria, Va.