Observers at this 74th General Convention – invited and not invited — are coming from all over the globe.
Official visitors and guests include overseas bishops, provincial secretaries, even whole delegations from covenant partners and companion dioceses. The tally from the Office of Anglican and Global Relations lists 57 individuals.
"It’s very important, I think, that these guests observe how our church governs itself," says the Rev. Canon Patrick Mauney, AGR director, "particularly with some of the issues that we have before us."
Mauney named especially the general secretary of the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa, the Rev. Canon John L. Kanyikwa, who is a guest of Mauney’s office. The primate of Uganda, Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi, and his wife come as guests of the presiding bishop, making an exchange visit. Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and Phoebe Griswold visited Uganda in June, spending six days with the archbishop.
The Bishop of Jerusalem and his primate, the archbishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, will be present, as will bishops from Mexico, Central America, the Philippines, Brazil, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa and Canada.
Ecumenical guests here or on their way come from full communion partners like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Philippine Independent Church, the Polish National Catholic Church and the Old Catholic churches. They also come from those churches with which the Episcopal Church is "in dialogue" – the Moravians, Roman Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Greek Orthodox and others.
The purpose of including these representatives, says Bishop Chris Epting, deputy to the presiding bishop for ecumenical and interfaith relations, is to give them a chance to experience what our highest decision-making body is like … to understand how their partners make decisions and corporately come to their positions on things."
Epting invited several interfaith guests as well: "The Abrahamic faiths, since we are attempting to be in closer connection with both Jews and Muslims."
More than 140 journalists had registered for press credentials.