The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which concluded Friday, July 13, was a special one for the Rt. Rev. Claude E. Payne, retired bishop of the Diocese of Texas.

Payne and his wife, Barbara, both grew up in Abilene and live here in retirement. Not only was the convention invigorating, but Payne, 86, also got to see his new book, “Reclaiming Christianity: A Practical Model for Spiritual Growth and Evangelism,” make its debut. The book is the latest title from Forward Movement, a ministry of the Episcopal Church. Copies of the book will be available on amazon.com beginning Aug. 1.

Every three years, about 1,000 elected elected Episcopalians from the United States and several other countries meet for fellowship, strategy, finance and governance at the church’s General Convention. This year’s convention was held in Austin, the first time for the convention to be held in Texas in 48 years.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, recognized globally for his inspiring sermon at the wedding of Britain’s Prince Harry and America’s Megan Markle, has cast a vision of Episcopalians becoming a part of a wider Jesus Movement. He bids Episcopalians to do what Jesus did and would do in the face of today’s needs, Payne said, by emphasizing evangelism, reconciliation and global preservation. This comes at a time, Payne noted, when churches of all traditions – Protestant, Catholic and other – have been in decline for over 50 years.

“This General Convention was the most optimistic and powerful one I’ve attended,” Payne said. “We are dedicated to mission, reaching out to serve those with spiritual hunger with evangelism and serving others to promote reconciliation among peoples and to protect creation.”

The Rt. Rev. Scott Mayer of Abilene, bishop of the dioceses of Northwest Texas and Fort Worth, along with elected lay and clergy deputies from his jurisdictions constituted representation from this part of Texas.


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