Bishops v. Priests/laity

I recently heard a speech by a prominent observer of the Episcopal Church about the upcoming General Convention. He feared that a major issue at that convention would be a political battle between the two “Houses:” the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. The former consists of all bishops of the church who have shown up, including retirees; the latter consists of clergy and lay delegates elected by each diocese.

There are many perennial disagreements between the two groups. For example, the Bishops have been trying for years to reduce the size of each diocesan delegation from 8 members. (Often 8 alternates are also flown to the meeting; this is the case for New York, for example.) Delegates, fearing they may not get re-elected balk at this reform.

Apparently the biggest current issue, however, is the wish of the President of the House of Deputies to be able to speak on equal footing with the Presiding Bishop. For some, this is a matter of “justice”–giving equal weight especially to the laity.

I have often expressed my exasperation with the current President of the House of the Deputies. But even without such feelings, I am amazed that anyone in an “episcopal” (= “having bishops”) church would feel the need to counter the weight of the primate of the whole church. No doubt this issue will need to be considered again. —J. Douglas Ousley

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