Check back here in the coming months for information on our summer 2019 convention as it becomes available, or check our Annual Convention Facebook page.
The 195th session of the General Convention of the New Jerusalem (The Swedenborgian Church) was held from June 26th-July 3rd, 2019, at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, IN.
The March 2018 Messenger has details on the many diverse Mini Courses to be held at Convention as well as important changes to the Constitution and Bylaws on reorganization.
Curtis Childs, the digital media producer for the Swedenborg Foundation, founder and director of “Off The Left Eye” YouTube channel, and producer and host of the weekly webcast “Swedenborg and Life,” was the keynote speaker opening night at the Annual Swedenborgian Convention in San Jose on July 1, 2018. Curtis is the creator of the “Heaven and Hell” Facebook page, which has recently passed 450,000 followers. Some of his Swedenborgian videos have attained hundreds of thousands of views (one has over a million), and the channel overall so far has more than 10 million lifetime views. Curtis will be with us throughout the convention and will be offering a mini-course as well as hosting a streamed panel interview during the Center for Swedenborgian Studies’ annual meeting.
(Previews for the following mini-courses appeared in the February Messenger.)
General Council would like to thank all the interested parties that over the past two years have helped to gather information for analyzing, revising, and collaborating on the proposed changes to the governance structure and working bodies of General Convention. These changes are based on: 1) recommendations from the 2016–2018 Structure Review Committee (SRC); 2) 2016–2017 surveys and interviews by the SRC; 3) recommendations from the 2017 Annual Convention General Council meetings and small-group gatherings; 4) the Fall 2017 joint meeting of General Council and Cabinet; 5) input from support units; and 6) a 2018 review by the Amendments Committee.
The proposed Constitution and Bylaw changes are printed in the Messenger (link below) and will be discussed at the 2018 Annual Convention at San Jose State University, July 1–5. The Executive Committee of General Council deems it ideal to amend the Constitution and Bylaws at this year’s annual convention so that the implementation can become effective immediately. If the amendments are approved, the convention will proceed with elections to the revised bodies of General Convention. If not approved, elections per the current structure will proceed.
The basic changes affect Support Units. The five Support Units would be consolidated into three Standing Committees to improve efficiency, coordination, and usefulness. The Education Support Unit (three members plus a representative of the Center for Swedenborgian Studies) would broaden its responsibilities and become the Standing Committee of Education and Resources for Spiritual Community (four members, including one ordained minister, plus a member appointed by the Center for Swedenborgian Studies). The Communication Support Unit (three members) and the Information Management Support Unit (three members) would combine to create The Standing Committee for Communication and Information (three to six members); and the Financial and Physical Resources Support Unit (three members plus the treasurer of General Convention) and the Ministries Support Unit (six members) would combine to form the Standing Committee for Financial Accountability (six members, including two ordained ministers, plus the treasurer of General Convention as chair).
All serving members of the Support Units would be able to continue to serve on their respective Standing Committees until they have finished their term limits. The adjustments in numbers of members on Standing Committees would occur organically as members term off or choose to no longer serve. Members of each standing committee would be elected in the same process as used for support units with the same terms and term limits.
This change would eliminate the Cabinet, which had not met for ten years until the joint meeting with General Council last year.
The Chair of the Council of Ministers (COM) would be an ex-officio member of the General Council, with vote. Currently the Chair of COM is an invited guest.
For full information as to how these new committees would function please refer to the language for the proposed changes in page 33 of the Messenger link below.
Rev. Jane Siebert, president
We celebrated last year our 200th anniversary of the first ever convention of the Swedenborgian Church, in 1817. Although the annual convention is held in different parts of North America and rarely occurs in the same location two years in a row, it took 132 years before one was hosted on the West Coast—in 1949, the year Wayfarers Chapel was opened. Plenary sessions (photo below) were held in the lovely but now-razed mission-style Los Angeles Church on Westmoreland Avenue. Since 1949, there have been nine more conventions on the West Coast:1 1959 in Carmel; 1969 in Claremont; 1977 in San Francisco; 1982 in Irvine; 1987 in Tacoma; 1995 in San Francisco; 1999 in Malibu; 2005 in Berkeley; and 2009 in Seattle. This year’s annual convention, in the heart of Silicon Valley, will be the tenth since that historic 1949 convention. Only one person in this iconic photograph of so many New Church worthies is still living. A large blow-up photograph with most of the people identified will be on display at the convention in San Jose.
The Council of Ministers will arrive Thursday, June 28. Regular arrival will be Sunday, July 1. Convention events run July 1 through July 5.