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Monday, September 7, 2009

What We Are Doing Now

The Deputation met last week in an attempt to review General Convention material to present to our Diocesan Convention. We are currently reviewing resolutions that need action at our convention, or need to be sent to various bodies within the diocese for action or information.

In addition, we are working on a program meant to introduce Public Narrative to the convention goers. This is a tool that may be used in mission outreach and evangelism in the Church.

Finally, we are still taking invitations to meet with various congregations for a General Convention presentation. To schedule a presentation, please contact The Very Rev. Ronald Clingenpeel at rhclingenpeel@yahoo.com or 314-249-5908.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Busy Fingers at GC 2009

Just for fun, I took photos of people near our table (including two of our own and me) who were knitting, crocheting, or doing needlepoint. I now learn that Ravelry.com, a social network for knitting and crochet, caused there to be meetings of knitters and crocheters among bishop's spouses and ECW delegates. This slideshow is just the tip of the iceberg.

Knitting, crocheting or needlepointing during a meeting can be a way of focusing on or even praying for the discussion at hand.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What Now?

The Deputation is currently reviewing the legislation from General Convention and putting some priorities on the various materials. We will meet later in August and put together a list of the legislation that seems more important to publish for you. You can get a list of all legislation at: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/documents/ResStatusReport.pdf

The Deputation would like to be available to congregations and other Missouri organizations for a report on General Convention. If you are interested you may contact any of the deputies directly, or you can contact the Chair of the Deputation, The Very Rev. Ronald Clingenpeel, (rhclingenpeel@yahoo.com). We are pleased and happy to make visits to your group to discuss the Convention. Please use us as a resource to the ministry of your congregation.

Please note that the articles that have appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have been lacking in clarity and background. This is especially true of the AP stories, which are really out of context. The LA Times and the NY Times have understood the Convention and its intricacies better. Please refer to those publications. We are currently attempting to contact the religion editor of the Post-Dispatch to offer information from our deputation.

Deputy Ronald Clingenpeel

Sunday, July 19, 2009

In case you thought GC was remote & irrelevant to Missouri...

I know that a lot of people believe that General Convention is out of touch with the "real Episcopal Church" and is just a remote, elitist group making top-down decisions they impose on the person in the pew. But General Convention is really one of the most amazingly grassroots styles of church governance I know.

If you feel that the actions of the 2009 General Convention are wrong -- and one of the great things about this year's convention was the genuine warmth of feeling between those who voted in the majority and those who did not.... and who voted with the majority changed issue by issue-- here is what you need to do: Make sure that your parish or mission elects people who represent your point of view at diocesan convention.

Here at St. Mark's we often elect as our diocesan convention representatives anyone who is willing to run, rather than really thinking about who are the best people or politicking to elect people who represent a variety of perspectives. We elect people who are willing to offer about six Saturdays a year to go to convocation meetings, often "diocesan convention groupies" who have been going to convocation and convention for years. But our diocesan convention delegates elect the General Convention deputies. And often our diocesan convention delegates are not people who are willing to take on controversy, so when advocates for GLBT issues (of whom I count myself as one) develop resolutions about going beyond B033 or asking the SCLM to develop blessings for gay unions and bring them to diocesan convention, they pass. And then those resolutions find themselves on the floor of General Convention.

Actually, the St Mark's convention delegates are great and they are "movers and shakers" in our congregation (two of them are on vestry!) but this is my impression of how the system works in many places.

One of our Missouri 2008 Convention resolutions became General Convention's C056 (developed by Jay Kloecker and Don Fisher and endorsed by Oasis congregations) which was the basis for work on the resolution which ultimately came to the floor and passed in both houses about gathering resources for blessing gay unions... it was merged with other resolutions but ours was the basis because it said, in effect, "no one should be forced to bless a same sex relationship" so it appeared irenic and inclusive. (The GC website is giving error messages or I would be able to quote our original resolution and the form which was voted on by both houses.)

To me, this means that the decisions of General Convention are not the acts of remote, top-down elitists but examples of how our local Diocesan Convention decisions can impact the whole church through General Convention. So if you are concerned about how out of touch with life in YOUR congregation General Convention is, please step up and work through the existing structures of the church to change the course of the next General Convention. Elect different people to diocesan convention. Work to bring resolutions to diocesan convention which can be sent to General Convention. Run for General Convention.

This is not meant to sound like scolding although it may. It is just my way of saying that we keep on seeing examples of Missour's local convention paving the way for the decisions of General Convention and although many feel powerless in the face of GC's actions (and the way the Press spins them) I hope that all Episcopalians will take to heart the idea that every parish and person willing to run for diocesan convention has a role to play in changing the face of our church.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Final Day

Well, it is amazing how much you can get done when you have a deadline. This may be why a shorter convention will work. We were finished before 6 p.m. today. We zipped through an amazing amount of legislation.

According to the secretary, at this convention there were
  • 192 "A" resolutions. These are the resolutions which come from CCAB's, which are official Commissions, Committees and Boards of the church. These are the resolutions which are part of reporst in the Blue Book which is sent out before convention. A link to the Blue Book is here.
  • 32 "B" resolutions. These are resolutions submitted by bishops. They are available online as they come in.
  • 87 "C" resolutions. These are resolutions from diocesan conventions, like ours.
  • 108 "D" resolutions, resolutions submitted by deputies.

361 pieces of legislation were considered at this convention. 91 were "incomplete" which means did not go through both houses and these will go to a standing committee of Executive Council for action during the triennium.

It felt as if we did most of the legislation today at breakneck speed, as the time allotted for speaking on resolutions grew shorter and shorter (through introduction of special rules) and convention committees put more and more of their stuff on the consent calendar.

Then there is this matter of concurrance. As you will remember, just like in congress, a resolution has to pass both houses in the same form in order to "pass." So... last time I mentioned C023 about DOMA, the "Defense of Marriage Act". The House of Deputies passed a strong resolution calling on Episcopalians to work against the introduction of this Act in their states. It "squeaked" through but the House of Bishops was uncomfortable enough with the idea that Episcopalians were being told what to do that they referred it to a committee.

And then there was C061. This was the resolution calling for the addition of "gender identification and gender expression" to the non-discrimination language in the canons. While it passed by a good margin in the House of Deputies, it was clear there were deputies who had no idea what gender identity or gender expression mean. I don't know what happened in the House of Bishops but when they were done they had removed all the specific langauge about non-descrimination (race, age, gender, sexual orientation, marital status etc. and just allowed as how "all" baptised persons should have access to the ordination process (although ordination is not a "right" or "entitlement" no matter who you are.

Well, saying "all are welcome" is the same as saying nothing at all. The House of Deputies thought that the specific language was important. So we did not concur with the bishops' version of things and so the canon will remain unchanged for the coming triennium. Same old non-discrimination language but not specific wording about gender identification or gender expression.

Two interesting things mentioned by the secretary of convention. There were over 1,500 local volunteers at convention (not all full-time or for the whole time, of course.) As of the end of convention, there were 15 pairs of glasses at the lost-and-found.

Join me in Applause for our Deputation and Guests Blogging from General Convention

You've seen their schedules these past ten days, packed from early morning through evening legislative session, with study, prayer, reflection, and conversation squeezed in between. Somehow our deputation found extra time to share their observations and help us feel, in real time, that we were with them in Anaheim.

Even if you are mostly a reader and not a commenter (like me), I hope you'll join me in offering heartfelt thanks to our deputation, our ECW representatives, and Debbie Smith, for the posts and pictures from this General Convention.

~Applause~

We offer our prayers for your safe journey back to Missouri and for additional rest when you return. We look forward to thanking you in person and understanding more about these past ten days at the upcoming hearing sessions in the diocese.

Peace,
Beth Felice
Director of Communications
Diocese of Missouri

Advocating for Sudan

If you happen to read my blog too, you will already know that the main actual work I've done during GC is to talk with people who have more Sudan knowledge and experience than I do and to try to learn as much as possible about others' companion relationships. I also volunteered at the booth of the American Friends of the Episcopal Church oF Sudan (AFRECS) on Wednesday, which was Lui Day. The booth featured a photo-and-quote poster of various Lui trips from our diocese and a set of story cards with single photos and longer stories about them.

Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul and his wife, Deborah Atem Mading, visited GC from Thursday to Monday. Deborah spent about an hour with the spouses of bishops talking about the problems in Sudan, and Archbishop Daniel made the rounds of several committees and legislative sessions to observe how our church works, focusing on the destabilization that's happening in Sudan when asked to speak. Both he and Deborah say that the most important thing we can do to help Sudan is advocate with our government, one of the guarantors of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, to help shore up the faltering CPA and keep it in force -- quickly, before Sudan's increasing intertribal violence and rearming of both southern and northern forces escalate into civil war again.

With all that in mind, the House of Deputies has passed a resolution on Sudan (A033: Peace and Reconciliation in Southern Sudan) that is on the House of Bishops' concurrence calendar. I hope they will get to it today. In addition, AFRECS members drafted a letter to President Obama on Wednesday, which Bishop David Jones of Virginia brought to the House of Bishops yesterday. Wayne signed it and says that many other bishops did too. It outlines the situation and Archbishop Daniel's concerns and requests, and it encloses a copy of the archbishop's recent open letter to the guarantor countries (the US, UK, Netherlands, Norway, and maybe one or two others -- I'm not sure). I am personally very grateful to the deputies and bishops, and to the members of the World Missions and International and National Concerns committees and AFRECS, for making all that happen.

Meanwhile, back in Lui, Stephen tells me that they have had so little rain that he is worried about the food supply this year and asks our diocese for prayers for the Moru people and their crops. Please pray for our Moru friends and their crops, and always for peace in Sudan.

Random thoughts from Day 9

As Ron said, we passed the budget Thursday. It was hard and it will mean a lot fewer face-to-face meetings of various committees and commissions and more "online collaboration."One of the program staff cuts which is bothering a lot of people is that there will be no more "Women's Desk" at 815 (although I believe the "Status of Women" committee of Executive Council will continue.) There is a plan to have a slightly shorter General Convention in 2012 and to do much more of it "online." I would be more sanguine about all this use of new technology if I had not seen how much trouble many of the deputies seem to have with the electronic voting machines, which makes me wonder how they would do with an internet based General Convention paper flow. But I guess we'll see.

The other interesting thing about the budget was that the "asking" from each diocese is being incrementally reduced, in a manner that our own diocesan council had passed a resolution requesting. It will be 21% in 2010, 20% in 2009 and 19% in 2012. (I think the percentages are right but am too sleepy to check right now.)

We also passed two "political" resolutions. One D048 calling for a "single payer" national healthcare system and the other C023 opposing DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act.) They passed but by "squeak through" margins. I think that this reflects a real division in the House of Deputies about whether or not the church should engage in this kind of advocacy for matters of civil law. Everybody agrees that we need to do something about Health Care in the US and that Health Care is something Christians should care about but people were uncomfortable with the wording of the resolution which seemed to call upon all Episcopalians to approach the political solution to this problem in a particular way which may or may not be the best way.

We passed other resolutions which seemed to be focused on current events: one about Israel, asking for humanitarian aid for people in Gaza, one against torture and exraordinary rendition, one against"preemptive attacks."

I don't think any of us has mentioned that we passed a huge revision of the Lesser Feasts and fasts called "Holy Women, Holy Men." It contains many, many new commemorations. It will be available for trial use with some parishes chosen to offer specific feedback in an intentional way. Our bishop has spent quite a lot of time and energy at this convention getting this giant piece through the process. It will be interesting to pray our way through Holy Women and Holy Men whom we have never heard of before like Bartolomé de las Casas, Friar and Missionary to the Indies, 1566 who is on the calendar on July 18th. And there are plenty of people we HAVE heard of but have not had on the calendar before, not least Lydia seller of purple from Acts who will share January 27 with Dorcas and Phoebe. All will broaden our sense of how God has been glorified in the lives of holy people.

There is a huge amount of legislation yet to get through. A lot just on the consent calendar. Some will never make it through the consent process (House of Deputies and House of Bishops must concur on every resolution for it to have effect.) We may pass things tomorrow that the bishops don't have time to consider. One item likely to "die" in this way is C061 which Don discussed upstream. The Deputies will probably not concur with the House of Bishop's changes. We may amend it back to the original motion or simply vote against concurrance. But whatever we do, it is unlikely that the canon will be changed because the resolution will not have been concurred by both houses.

Another Busy Day

Today we passed a great deal of legislation:

1. A major initiative to put mission as our main priority.

2. A much slimmer budget which will mean that some programs are trimmed, some eliminated, many having to learn different ways in which to operate, and the loss of some jobs. Hard work, but really forward looking stuff.

3. Lots of changes in rules of order.

4. Called on our government to do something so that everyone has health insurance.

5. Called for more education for congregations regarding domestic violence

We will summarize and post a lot of this information in a future blog.

Tomorrow is the last legislative day and we will see a flurry of resolutions. Will try to bring you up to date on that before we leave on Saturday.

Continue your prayers for us, please.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

C061 - anti-discrimination canon; B029 - consent process

Hi, all who are interested in following legislation. You might want to check-out the current version of C061. It references Canon III.1.2, if you care to look that up. [I do not know if there is a corresponding resolution to update Canon III.1.3.]

It began as a resolution to insert "gender identity" and "gender expression" into the anti-discrimination list, since these issues are not the same as sexual orientation and no other term on the list covers them. The Deputies passed it and sent it on to the Bishops. Yesterday, the Bishops returned the item to the Deputies after making (IMHO) sweeping changes.

1. The language no longer specifically bans discrimination on the now-familiar list of grounds.
2. The language is now a guarantee: "All baptized persons" have "full access" to any ministry, lay or ordained.

As some supporters have said, "What don't we understand about 'all'?" At the same time, in a country with a long and regrettable history of discrimination, it is sad to lose the language where we disavow improper discrimination.

The Deputies have yet to vote on the change. It's not clear whether they will vote this afternoon or tomorrow or possibly at a special meeting called this evening. Moreover, I have no sense of what might happen with this.

Also, B029 is headed from the Bishops to the Deputies for concurrence. It changes the process for consents to episcopal elections. It currently is that, if elected within the 120 days before General Convention, the consent of Standing Committees is replaced by the consent of the House of Deputies at GC. B029 makes it the consent of Standing Committees at all times, eliminating the special 120-day period.

Other deputies may bring you up to date on the health plan and pension plan adoptions. I haven't followed that closely enough, and I'd probably confuse both you and me.

C056 is still pending. I am not sure when it will come up on the agenda. There may be a call for that special meeting tonight, causing our deputies to miss the E4GR U-2Charist at which our Provost Mike Kinman will be preaching.

Don

Day Eight

(Left, our Hondural table neighbors with their Honduras Soccer shirt.)

So, for the first time, I'm blogging--not just for the first time from General Convention, but for the first time, ever. Some of us are just slower than others . . .

Lydia and I have made a list of topics each of us may speak to in blogging this evening, so here are a few tidbits:

Yesterday in the House of Deputies, a large number of ecumenical and interfaith representatives visited the House of Deputies (HOD). Among these were a variety of Christians, as well as Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish leaders, and others, primarily from the Los Angeles area. A powerful conclusion to our morning session was a blessing, offered by a rabbi, an imam, and an Episcopal priest, in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, first separately, then together--not really competing, but so that the words hung separately and together--hard to describe, but haunting (in a good way).
Today, the HOD concurred with action of the House of Bishops on guidelines for interfaith dialogue, effective not only in the various national bodies of The Episcopal Church around the world, but also at the diocesan and congregational levels. We addressed a number of other issues, more shortly.

Just a a few words about the floor of the HOD. Eight hundred people are at tables, with our deputations marked by poles with the names of our dioceses. On top of some poles are yellow bows, marking a deputation with a senior deputy, someone who has been a member of the HOD for seven or more conventions--that's 21 years or longer! In addition to the official yellow bows, most deputations have affixed to their poles some other symbol of their diocese--for example, your Missouri deputation has a Cardinals hat with three Missouri flags on top of our pole. Behind us, the Diocese of Honduras sports a soccer jersey; Maryland's pole is topped with a crab. Maine has a lobster; Lexington has a large balloon horse. A loon decorates Minnesota's pole; San Diego has a beach umbrella; Fort Worth, baskets of blue bonnets; Wyoming, a lariat and a cowboy boot.

Clever advertizements: Alaska is looking for a bishop. The Alaska deputation has tee shirts, all of which, on the back, say "Alaska is calling." On the front, their green tee-shirts say, Call of the Wild; the blue ones, The Frozen Chosen; orange ones say, Got Bishop?; purple ones, 1-800-BAK BSHP. Members of the Alaska deputation say nominations are coming in quickly. Kentucky is also advertizing. They're handing out snazzy bookmarks with the question, "Is purple your color?"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

C056 - Blessings

Good evening, all. I haven't yet received the press notices from Integrity and other sources, so I'll get right to the meat of things.

This afternoon (LATE afternoon), the House of Bishops passed resolution C056 by a vote of 104 yea, 30 nay, and either 2 or 4 abstentions. (Some of us have cloudy memories about the abstentions.) It is public record that Bishop Smith voted for it. Several of us were present, forgive if I forget any, but Jason Samuel, John Speller, and Heidi Clark were all there. Not absolutely sure, but I believe our friend formerly at St. Peter's, Rev. Emily Mellott, was there too. I sat in the center of the gallery immediately in front of Susan Russell, retiring president of Integrity, and several other Integrity leaders. Major votes in the HoB were by roll call. Both houses did not recess until about 6:30pm today, even though a 6pm close was scheduled.

Now, the big issue is: What did they pass? As of the present moment, the legislation page has been updated to reveal the actual text. The observers in the room heard the text read aloud, but no observer had the printed text from which they started. And then there were amendments to the amendments, and, without even the original text, it was difficult to follow. In essence, this is the third version of C056, and though our original text is long gone, it still shows as submitted by the Diocese of Missouri. You can read it for yourself and see what you think it says. To me, it seems to say that we will make progress toward new and (before too long) permanent liturgies for same-gender relationships. The fourth "resolve" is pretty clear about allowing individual bishops to have "a generous pastoral response" to church members' needs. But it doesn't give much support or guidance to individual bishops as to how they should proceed during the next triennium. And there is no date-certain as a target for approval of the liturgies.

I observe that there are two references to being open and transparent. I'm not sure the "why here?" of this, but it might be sensitivity to the flack from what has been called the "secret" House of Bishops Theology Committee. That Theology Committee was mentioned in earlier versions, but is not in the final one. It also might be to let the Anglican Communion know that we're not hiding anything. Notice, too, that EVERYBODY avoids the word marriage to the greatest degree possible. We still have some linguistics to work out in the future.

What's next? Well, some form of approval has to come from the House of Deputies, who will presumably deal with it sometime tomorrow. Ron Clingenpeel is concerned that it might require a legislative session at 8pm tomorrow. One is on the schedule as a "possibility" if needed, but it would be best if it could be avoided. We presume that the deputy committee chaired by Sam Candler of Atlanta will hear C056, most likely at 7:30am if they didn't meet this evening, and then promptly send it on to the full House of Deputies. The deputy committee was in on earlier discussions, but they have never seen the text the Bishops passed today.

Again, there was no "gloating", no cheering in the gallery, or any thing comparable. I remind you that some folks, some of our sisters and brethren in the Lord, are troubled by all this. Let us be ever sensitive to their concerns.

After the meetings today, several of us went to a celebration in the Anaheim arena adjacent to the Convention Center. The Diocese of Los Angeles had an innovative program entitled "A Liturgy for Transformational Living", more or less based on Evening Prayer, with some unusual blending of art forms: music and drums, poetry, visual painting on a back-lit canvas with materials that looked like giant-size finger paint, even a little modern dance. Bishop Bruno of LA led part of the liturgy, but the main speaker was Brian McLarien. The whole thing was produced by the Center for Creative Ministries. Visual art credits go to
www.workofthepeople.com.
I had been led to expect loud rock stuff (forgive me for still being an old geezer), but it actually was very sensitive and nice and even inspiring. Not over-loud. Just a touch of CW, too. All of it nicely done.

Tomorrow night is the U2Charist put on by Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. Our own Mike Kinman will be the preacher. I'll try not to miss this one and will report about it tomorrow.

We (or at least I) am getting weary. But the end is in sight. And the comfort and ease of being at home is not too far away.

Don

Not so much with the official stuff

A few of us lucky souls have the luxury of watching what's happening at General Convention without having much responsibility. I've been enjoying hanging out with old friends, seeing a bit of Southern California, and watching the kids at GC. I'm also paying attention to the legislation, but others are writing about that, and doing some Sudan networking, which I'm writing about in LuLuLui. Here's a little random local color:

Out at the pool I got to listen to a mom who's a TEC staffer facilitate her daughter's social life. The little girl was maybe 8, and she'd made a friend. Every few minutes she came out of the pool to make a suggestion: "Mom, I could just go to her room to play for a while. I wouldn't spend the night." "Mom, her family is going to the beach tomorrow. I could go with them..." Eventually the mom left her conversation with me and went to talk with the new friend's parents.

On my way to the room today, I met a preadolescent girl walking down the hall. She was saying into her cell phone, "I'm so lucky that my mom and dad got me my own room key. It's my very first time!"

Our own Will, son of Tamsen Whistler and Bob Brown, seems to be having a good convention. He is hard at work volunteering, but he saunters in to participate in nightly deputation debriefings with good cheer and lots of patience. And another teenage boy you might know from the Flower Festival, Austin from the Diocese of Olympia, greeted me in the spouse room with a hug and has been the soul of solicitude for the comfort and happiness of the bishops' spouses (although mostly he's going to Disney and the beach).

For all their quarreling on the floor of their houses, Episcopalians are classically civil and pleasant to each other. Every day the elevator offers new adventures and new friends, as the nametags we all wear give us an easy entree into conversation. The accents alone are loads of fun...

The members of the deputation are working very hard, and I am impressed by their interest in the committee work of each other and their unflagging politeness and patience with the process. It doesn't seem like they are getting much sleep or the best nutrition; several of them are trying to keep up at least a little at work via email and cell phones, and at least one of them severely misses her family. Last night we all went to dinner at one of the NOLA Brennan family's restaurants and had all kinds of Cajun-based delights. That was thanks to Dan Smith, who is taking care of us all in his usual unflappable way.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Did we do anything else?

Just in case people are wondering, we do a lot of other things at General Convention besides talking about full inclusion of GLBT people... One surprising challenge was consenting to the election of the bishop of Ecuador Central. As you will remember, elections of bishops which happen within four months of GC are voted on in GC. This case is a little unusual, however, because the diocese was in such conflict that it asked the House of Bishops to elect a bishop for it, which is a process available under the canons. The deputation from Central Ecuador seemed divided about the whole process. Some of the argument of those who did not want the Deputies to consent was about the decision not to have the election locally. It seems to be a sad and complicated situation and one hopes that the new bishop will be able to heal what seems like a small and conflicted diocesan community.

We have voted on two Evangelism issues, one the development of an "evangelism toolkit" to help the church reach out to under represented groups and the other a huge (and expensive) initiative to evangelize the Latino community. We have used a lot of Spanish in our liturgies, both in song and prayer, reminding us all of the Spanish speakers in our midst, both people from Province IX and people living in the continental US.

My legislative committee has considered resolutions about helping to finance ministry formation costs (seminary education or other preparation) and also about training indigenous people for ministry and/or helping clergy to have more multicultural awareness and fluency. Most of those resolutions have not come to the floor of the House of Deputies yet, since by tradition they would go to the House of Bishops first.

The tone of the house continues to be pleasant and respectful even though sometimes the voting process is tedious and frustrating and sometimes people will rise to say things that are probably not necessary... so by this point, half-way, it is easy to feel that we are WAY behind on legislation and everything that slows us down is annoying...

Monday, July 13, 2009

D025

About 45 minutes ago, the chair in the House of Deputies announced that D025 had passed in both orders. The numbers were not exactly the same, but they were so close that the percentage in each order was 72%-28%. Again, this is more than 2/3rds, but not quite 3/4ths.

It was passed without further amendment, and the final form is on the legislation webpage. Both Houses have now passed it in the same form. It is done.

If I understood the announcement correctly, the House of Bishops has put off discussion on C056 until tomorrow afternoon. Again today there was an executive session after the lunch break. It lasted for at least 45 minutes. And then there was the announcement of the delay to allow time for further discussions, presumably informal.

A group of about two dozen ecumenical and inter-faith leaders were welcomed to each house and their greetings were received by the Deputies and the Bishops. Most interesting was a vocal presentation, presumed to be all on the same familiar Psalm text "The Lord bless you and keep you ..." It was sung together in their respective languages by a Jewish cantor, a Muslim that sounded much like their call to prayer (sorry, I don't know the correct term), and a Christian singing in English. It was most dramatic and striking and extremely beautiful, all excellent singers, to say nothing of the impact of the inter-faith cooperation. As it drew to a conclusion, the Muslim (who was the tallest) put his arm first around the Christian and then around the Jew as their singing came to a conclusion. I heard this done in both houses. The better performance and the embraces were in the House of Bishops.

Don

Regarding blessings

This morning (7:30am) the Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music Committee met for an hour and a half on nothing but the blessing resolution. As yet, I have not been able to obtain a copy of the corrected text. Going by what I heard aloud, the first resolve is a reworking of our C056 first resolve. Their third resolve is very much like our "conscience" clause. However, other things have been mixed in, and I need the text to be able to report to you clearly and without misstatements.

The resolution will bear the number C056, but will be called the substitute resolution C056. The revision is now on the legislation site, but I have not had time to study the details.

The Committee passed whatever version of it as their secretary recorded. It goes to the House of Bishops first. They are beginning a meeting right now, and I am going to that meeting to see if the resolution comes up for discussion and vote.

More details later.

Don

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Legislation: another step taken

Good evening.

After a tedious and sometimes tense session this afternoon, we have another step of progress to report. The House of Deputies passed, by a two-to-one margin, Resolution D025. You can look it up at:
http://gc2009.org/ViewLegislation/
It passed without any floor amendments. It is now sent to the House of Bishops for their consideration. It is very difficult to assess the sense of the Bishops, since we haven't seen any of those preliminary votes that give you a clue about how a subsequent vote might go. The decorum of the House of Deputies prevailed when the vote was finally announced (no significant cheering, applause, or other noisy reactions). You could see faces that were clearly elated and others that are genuinely troubled.

The resolution does recognize the realities in the Episcopal Church regarding GLBT folk and their relationships. At the same time, it expresses the desire to remain in communion with those who disagree. It acknowledges disagreement within the Episcopal Church and within the Anglican Communion over these issues. It's "out-front" and honest about it. One thing the resolution does not do is repudiate (or choose your synonym) B033. To quote several of the witnesses, it describes how we are now, regardless of how we might have been described earlier.

The vote was done by orders. This means that:
The clergy in the House of Deputies must vote in favor.
The laity in the House of Deputies must vote in favor (and the votes of the two orders are not combined).
If either fails to vote for it, it does not pass. This type of vote is the ultimate empowerment of the laity, because the lay vote alone can prevent the resolution from passing.
On top of that, the clergy of each deputation has only one vote; the laity of each deputation has only one vote; if either order is equally divided on the issue, the vote is recorded as "divided" but that counts as a "no".
With all dioceses required to vote, both orders voted for it by two-to-one. The margin was not statistically different between the two orders.

What might the House of Bishops do with this? For one, they could pass it. I've suggested in an earlier post that the 3-2 vote of the bishops on the committee to reject probably doesn't represent the sentiment of the full House. It is entirely reasonable that they would simply concur this measure. It is entirely possible that they would pass it with amendment. That would send it back to the House of Deputies to concur on the amendment(s). They could simply reject it. I suspect that the bishops will concur - perhaps not in overwhelming numbers, but in substantial agreement with a relatively mild, decidedly honest, and non-incendiary resolution. It isn't usually announced as to which bishop voted yes and which voted no, unless the individual bishop chooses to reveal his/her vote. But if there is a summary rejection of D025, quite a few bishops will have some explaining to do when they get home.

I think it behooves those of us heartened at this level of acceptance by our church to be sensitive, caring, and healing with those others of our fellowship for whom this is troubling. Reconciliation in love is our challenge and our goal. It's up to us to live up to the call of the Gospel and the promises of our Baptismal Covenant to be reconciled with our troubled brothers and sisters in Christ.

The "other" issue remains the same-gender blessings. This is still in committee, to the best of my understanding. Tomorrow morning I will try to track down what is happening on that front and will report back on this blog. I'll also try to find out if and when the House of Bishops is open to observers. That might be very revealing.

Don

B033 developments

Good morning. I've just returned from the Sunday morning Eucharist with the Presiding Bishop as both celebrant and preacher. It was a genuine spectacle. All of the tables had been removed from the room, replaced by chairs in rows. Rumor has it that there were 10,000 chairs in the room, and there weren't a whole lot of unused ones. All of the bishops in procession behind Hansori Drums were really impressive. The best music was in those pieces done with "soul" - the style of piano that we associate with black gospel music. For even those Episcopalians who are rather restrained in emotional expression, the barriers came down and the place was full of songs of praises.

I've had my time of personal reflection after the service now. So I will report on another issue. In this morning's "The Daily" from Episcopal Life, there is news of action taken on the subject of B033. I was not at the committee meeting in which this vote took place, simply because I couldn't be in two places at once. But, having attended other meetings of that committee, the description in the Daily is consistent with the prior discussion I have heard.

Apparently, the Committee decided to proceed with resolution D025, a resolution which is centered on our participation in the Anglican Communion. But it fortunately it does not have the obfuscatory language of B033. No beating-around-the-bush. You can read the text here:
http://gc2009.org/ViewLegislation/view_leg_detail.aspx?id=986&type=Current
If you aren't familiar with the style, the original text is in regular print, text added to the original is in italics, and text deleted from the original is lined out but still presented so you know what was dropped.

The meetings of this committee which I have attended were significantly dominated by the deputies. Generally, there were three, occasionally four, bishops present. And not all of the bishops contributed actively to the discussions. Therefore, I'm not surprised that the vote of the deputies on the committee was 24-2 in approval, while the vote of the bishops was a 3-2 rejection. Bishops: Geralyn Wolfe of Rhode Island was committee co-chair, and William Skilton of South Carolina/Dominican Republic and Charles Keyser, retired of the Armed Forces were regulars at the meetings. In addition to these three, Jean Zache Duracin of Haiti and Dena Harrison, suffragan of Texas, were present for the vote. Bishops Leo Frade (Southeast Florida) and E. Don Taylor (New York) are both listed as committee members, but did not participate in either the discussions or the vote. The bishops caucused after the vote and later declined to comment about it. [This committee is in contrast to Bishop Smith's committee on liturgy where there are regularly quite a few bishops participating, and they don't hesitate to speak their minds openly.] This is all to say that I don't think this is a strong rejection on the part of the bishops. It was only a very small subset of bishops voting, and I'm not at all sure that they are expressing the viewpoint of the full House.

The committee deputies were ably led by Gay Jennings (lay - Ohio), the chair, and Ian Douglas (clergy - Massachusetts), member of the Executive Council and of the Anglican Consultative Council. Deputies Mark Harris (clergy - Delaware) and Neal Michel (clergy - Dallas) were also influential in the discussions. There were others, too, but I've forgotten some of the names.

What's next? Because the Dispatch Committee had already determined that resolutions on this topic would start out in the House of Deputies, this is now referred there. I don't know how long it will be before it comes to a vote. It can be hurried along by a Special Order procedure which temporarily suspends the rules and brings it to the floor quickly. If the deputies pass it in present form, it goes to the House of Bishops for a vote. If the deputies amend it in any way (even dumb stuff like punctuation), I'm told it has to go back to the committee and then to the Deputies again. Given the number of days left in Convention, I surely hope that the Deputies don't argue over amendments. I don't want another last-day debacle.

It's time now to prepare for the afternoon legislative session. If you have questions about the inclusion issues, please don't hesitate to ask. We may not know the answers, but we'll try to find them for you.

Don

A few of my favorite things

Some lovely things have happened here at General Convention, some funny things, too.

Here is a random list, really:

Voting:
When we started voting on Church Pension Fund Trustees, a pigeon flew low over the room, like a sign of the spirit that the voting machines were working. We vote with little remote control devices. At GC 2006 the voting process gave no end of trouble. The instructions on how to vote were garbled to the point of ridiculousness and the devices did not seem to work well. Winnie Verghese is the voting secretary this time and she offers her instructions calmly and gracefully, interlarded with funny comments like, "It has been pointed out to me that people cannot understand my voting instructions when they are talking." Some of you will have seen her in Via Media.

Integrity:
The Integrity Eucharist was absolutely PACKED with people and one saw tons of people one knew there, including a bunch of sitting bishops. Ed Browning, the PB of "There will be no outcasts in this church" was there and honored with much affection by V. Gene Robinson and others. Barbara Harris was her own "tell it like it is" self, with much quoted lines like the one about how we had same sex marriage for centuries, because marriage was a contract between the groom and the father of the bride. You can hear her sermon (and catch sight of the cool red streamer banners) here. Integrity expects to have the whole service online soonish. The African drummer and chant and various other things had John Speller (yes, the John Speller you know and love) clapping and swaying... carried away, I guess.

Ray Suarez:
Today's preacher was Ray Suarez of the New Hour. I've been proud to know he is a life long Episcopalian ever since I found it out. He did a fine job preaching on "Hospitality" on the feast of Benedict of Nursia. Just as intelligent and well informed when speaking of the church as when commenting on the news. One of my heroes. His sermon is here.

Jenny Te Paa
Jenny Te Paa, one of the members of the Lambeth Commission and a lay theologian & indigenous person from Aotearoa/New Zealand was one of the President of the House of Deputy's "visitors." She spoke at some length encouraging our church to do what is right for us in our cultural context and to be assured that we have friends in the global south. She said that the Lambeth Commission had not understood our polity and the role of our PB and had treated the American church badly as a result. Pretty amazing. Her remarks are going to appear in print, apparently, but not for a while.

Gregory Straub
The Secretary of Convention, Gregory Straub, wears bow ties and madras patchwork sports coats and occasionally more outrageous things like the astonishing printed and patched jacket he wore on the opening day of convention. He does announcements with humor and wit and seems unflappable. Here is a picture of the amazing jacket.

Deputation Meetings:
There is easy hospitality in the diocesan suite (aka Dan Smith's room), with internet access, wine and other beverages, snacks, office supplies and a chance to talk over what has happened during the day and what is coming up. We don't plot or collude in any way but let each other know what we've heard about various pieces of legislation and the bishop let's us know what the House of Bishops have been up to and so on. We also pray together. Dan has worked hard to look after us and to arrange for people to use the room if they need the computer.

Tomorrow is the big Sunday Eucharist. Peg Cooper says that she heard that they are putting up 10,000 chairs and previous PB's Frank Griswold and Ed Browning will be there. (They've both been here for book signings.)

It isn't my day but I just felt like writing some of these things down. There continues to be a good mood in the house. People seem to be willing to disagree and remain in community. As we get into the "moving beyond B033" resolutions, it will be interesting to see how this develops.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Same-gender blessings

I know that several of you are waiting for progress reports, but at this point we have to be patient. A couple of things have moved along, but there is more yet to be done.

The issue of same-gender blessings has moved a little. You can always check the status at
http://gc2009.org/ViewLegislation/view_Legislation.aspx
Watch particularly C031 and C056. C056 was written in the Diocese of Missouri, adopted at the diocesan convention in November, 2008, and sent to General Convention. C031 was written in the Diocese of Vermont. Just today we made an initial contact with the Vermont people, and we hope to open a dialogue where we work together toward a common goal. The ultimate proposal might be under one of these numbers, or it might be assigned a new one. We'll try to keep you informed.

But of particular interest to Jay Kloecker and me and Lydia Speller, there was one minor but surprising event. The joint committee (bishops and deputies) on Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music has been discussing same-gender blessings. Our Bishop Smith is co-chair of this committee. Early this morning I went to their meeting, and after some time spent on other issues, the Committee was presented with a draft resolution relating to S-G blessings by one of its subcommittees. What startled me is that the Missouri diocese's resolution (C056) has been adapted with only minor changes as the basis of the committee's draft. Our text has been augmented by additions taken from or based upon a resolution and commentary from Vermont (C031). The Vermont passages are substantially supportive and focus on some the issues for states where same-gender marriages or unions have been legalized.

Those of us who began working on these resolutions quite some time ago are both gratified and astounded that our wordings and our notions are still alive at the level of General Convention. Lisa, I'll try to anticipate your question: NO, we have not been able to obtain a copy of this draft resolution as yet. We have seen it, but we have not been able to have it on paper.

I must commend Bishop Smith for an additional suggestion that couldn't have been forseen at the time we drafted our resolution. Bishop Smith suggested that, whatever we as The Episcopal Church do on this issue, we submit it to one of the Instruments of Communion. Bishop Smith expressed a preference for the ACC and an opinion that the Primates would be the least desirable option for this. We would not be offering the Communion or the particular Instrument the right to veto, but the words discussed were "consultation" or "conversation" for the purpose of understanding our action. The notion is that we would NOT want to blind-side the Anglican Communion with a surprise unilateral action without some kind of communication. IMHO, I think this is a wonderful addition to the discussions on difficult issues. It hasn't been drafted into the text of the version that I have seen, but I would be supportive of just such an addition.

You might recall that our resolution was not extreme in nature. Rather, it was a middle-of-the-road proposal that we thought many folks of various opinions could live with - future further developments to follow as appropriate. We were interested in getting a process going, and apparently our language has resonated with the committee members. We also believe that a modest beginning, allowing people time to adjust to new situations, would be the way for initiating geniune lasting progress.

Once the committee reports this proposal out, it goes to the House of Bishops first. Assuming their approval (not a foregone conclusion), it would then be sent to the House of Deputies for concurrence. So, the first step is getting something through the bishops. The form of it is not likely to be as progressive as many deputies might like. The second step will be how many deputies will support it. My opinion is that middle-of-the-road folks will be happy. It's pretty certain that the quite conservative folks won't be happy. The balance will be in the hands of the progressive left. If they say "it is not enough" and vote against it, it will fail. If they say "some progress is better than none", it will pass. I don't see strong, strident proposals passing this year.

I really believe that progressives have a spiritual challenge coming out of this. 1) to be sensitive and caring about the heart-felt concerns of our conservative brothers and sisters by rejecting the "in-your-face" attitude, and 2) by recognizing that "all the baptized" includes not just GLBTs but all those conservatives, too.

The disposition of B033 is less developed at this point. One aspect of it (same-gender blessings) is dealt with by the above discussion. The options on the other aspects have been pointed out. There has been (twice) open discussion on the floor of the House of Deputies. There have also been personal testimonials before the World Mission committee. If there is any concensus, it is that doing nothing is not much of an option. What to do or how far to go is still to be decided. I expect strong words ("repudiation", "reject", "rescind") to be too much for B033. Calling it a mistake (as some who voted for it have done) is not likely either. It might be declared null and void, or it might be "overruled" by a new resolution that in effect undoes it. IMHO, that's more likely.

I did attend a meeting today with Tobias Haller and Nicholas Knisely. The topic was mainly how the mess about B033 developed in 2006. Not much of the discussion was forward-looking.

We shall see in the next few days. I'll post more about the Integrity events in my next entry.

Don

Friday, July 10, 2009

POST FROM KATHY DYER about THURSDAY

Thursday – General Convention Day 2

Our day began once again with Legislative Committee meetings at 7 a.m.Why so many legislative sessions you may ask? All proposed legislation is assigned by our Presiding Bishop (PB) Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies (PHOD) Bonnie Anderson to a legislative committee.There are 18 legislative committees at this General Convention (GC).The committees review all the resolutions assigned to them and hold public hearings for comments.Then the committee makes a recommendation to the House considering the resolution to:
  1. Adopt the resolution as proposed,
  2. adopt it with changes,
  3. reject the resolution,
  4. refer the resolution to a Committee, Commission, Agency or Board,
  5. discharge the committee from further consideration of the resolution.
Resolutions are also reviewed by the Canons and/or Constitution Committees, and if there are any funding implications, by the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F). Currently, we have about 365 resolutions that need to go to legislative committees for review, hearings and recommendations. As you can imagine, that takes time. Our deputation members assigned to committees are committed to attending all meetings of their committees. The rest of us are able to float around and follow legislation at any committee meeting. Attending legislative committee meetings often means little sleep and missed meals.

Today, legislative meetings were scheduled in three blocks beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 10 p.m. After the morning legislative committee meetings (7-9 a.m.), we had our second training session for Mission Conversations through Public Narrative. Today, three of our ECW delegation members were able to join us. We practiced telling our “story of self” in a two minute time frame. We were assigned to tables with others from our Diocese. Several of our deputation members trained as coaches and were working with other Dioceses at their tables. I learned interesting background about folks from Missouri. We shared feedback on each person’s story. We will continue this training on Saturday.

We participated in the community Eucharist at 11:30 a.m. Today, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams preached. Immediately following the Eucharist, I attended a speaker series organized by the Chicago Consultation (1 – 1:50 p.m.) Today’s featured speakers were Jenny Te Paa from Auckland, New Zealand and Jane Shaw from New College in Oxford, England. I heard Dr. Te Paa preach at the 2006 GC, and was quite impressed. Dr. Te Paa was a member of the Lambeth Commission on Communion, which produced the Windsor Report. It was interesting to learn about her perspective on the Windsor Report and how the Commission at the time did not understand the polity of the Episcopal Church. The speakers also discussed the idea of an Anglican Covenant and feedback they have heard from various parts of the Communion.

Generally, it appears the idea of an Anglican Covenant has not been well received in other provinces. Several people from different parts of the communion were present at the meeting and described the reactions of people in the pews in their provinces were not consistent with some of the negative voices we have heard from provincial leaders following the 2003 and 2006 General Conventions. We were encouraged to move forward on full inclusion in the Episcopal Church.

Afternoon legislative committees ran from 2 to 4 p.m. I sat in on hearings held by the Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music Committee (which our Bishop co-chairs). Speakers, both pro and con, spoke on eleven resolutions assigned to the committee. Four of the resolutions requested canonical changes and seven dealt with recommendations for Rites of Blessings for same sex partners. I was surprised that the majority of speakers were speaking in favor of the resolutions. I had expected more people to speak in opposition to the proposed legislation. Many of the resolutions were duplicative or overlapped in parts. The committee will need to sort through all the proposals and make recommendations as described above.

Our afternoon legislative session was scheduled to run 4:30 to 6 p.m. We passed several resolutions on the consent calendar, all addressing the Rules of Order for the House of Deputies. We started to vote on the Trustees for the Church Pension Fund (we need to elect 12), but ran out of time before our “Committee of the Whole” scheduled for 5 p.m. We did elect Bonnie Anderson to another three year term as president of the HOD, but postponed the remaining elections for another legislative session.

We previously set aside one hour of our afternoon session to discuss B033. Most resolutions related to B033 have been assigned to the World Mission Committee (Committee #8). Deputy Gay Jennings, chair of the committee, addressed the HOD. She provided a history of B033. Then Deputy Randolph K. Dales, chair of the subcommittee on B033 matters, spoke about GC’s choices. We can do nothing, which means B033 remains in effect. We can pass legislation affirming B033. We can pass legislation overturning B033. We can pass legislation affirming that our canons do not allow for discriminatory practices. We can pass legislation stating the current position of the GC.

We then broke into pairs to discuss how B033 affected us individually and as a diocese, and what we are called to do now. Tomorrow morning, we have set aside another hour of our legislative session to hear from individuals about B033.

We will not be discussing any particular legislation during that session. This is a time to share personal stories. A lottery system has been implemented to determine who will have a chance to address the HOD. Each speaker will be allowed 2 minutes to share.

It is late and I need to get some sleep. I hope these posts are helpful for all of you at home.

Good night and blessings!
Kathy Dyer

PS Thanks to Lydia for posting this for me. I finished early in the morning and realized I had not yet signed up to postblogs. In any case, better late than never!

Under The Big Tent

It's Day Two and we're fully underway now. I'm always impressed with those who make up this 'Big Tent' version of the House of God. Lawyers, people of color, mothers, retired business persons, gay activists, Latinos, and a few conspicuous young people (among many others) - - I love it. They all love The Episcopal Church and want to make a difference for you and me in how we live as the People of God.

The convention is working very hard to hear how the Spirit will lead us now past B033 - the resolution from the 2006 convention which has been used to block gay and lesbian priests from becoming bishops. We will get past this - I truly believe. The World Mission Committee (hearing initial testimony on this) is full of good, smart people of varying viewpoints and stations in life. They are praying hard, listening compassionately - to everyone - and really want to do something to help.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is something to see....and hear. Like an Anglican Dumbledore (from Harry Potter fame), he really has a big-picture perspective that only he can describe to us. He preached yesterday calling us to a new level of truthfulness; saying that we've been lying to ourselves about our finances, our unsustainable level of consumption and our connectedness with other peoples.

Finally, I'm working this convention on the Evangelism Committee. Among others, we're working to perfect a resolution which will plan outreach to the 45.5 million Latino/Hispanic Americans in the United States (Did you know the United States is the 2nd largest Latino country in the world?). Also, if you'd like an example of a resolution which is a real political football, try Resolution C069. It asks The Episcopal Church to affirm a theological statement from the Church of England. See if you can find the half-dozen problems with the way this resolution is written....

It's now 2:20am here. Please forgive my rambling. Remember you can always go to the live-stream online to see how the proceedings are going...

Site:
http://gchub.episcopalchurch.org/

Peace be with you. We miss home.
Mike Clark

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Health Care

Today I am submitting a resolution calling upon the Episcopal Church to urge our nationally elected leaders to provide health care and insurance for all American citizens.

The Very Rev. Ronald Clingenpeel

JAY KLOECKER on First Legislative Day

Lydia Agnew Speller posted this for Jay:

The first legislative day of General Convention 2009 is now in the books, and I have to admit, it wasn't the teeth-pulling experience I expected. Many of us have taken time to enjoy local entertainments, and we have really had a good time. Everyone I spoke with who experienced the 2003 or 2006 General Convention seemed surprised at the tone of this convention, but I am taking it all in stride. The House of Deputies was overflowing with jocularity and good cheer, laughter and gracious humor at a few foibles and funny missteps. In short, it was everything positive I would expect of a Christian assembly, without any of the negatives. Kudos to everyone, but especially my fellow Deputies!

The day began with the first legislative session at 8:00AM. Those who know me are aware that I am NOT a morning person, and so this was challenging. I made it with time to spare (about 10 seconds...YIKES!). During this session, which was only an hour long, we passed a number of housekeeping resolutions, electing officers of the House and of the Convention, appointing various persons to various boards, and setting the calendar. Missouri deputy Jeannette Huey was appointed to a six-year term on the Board of the Archives of the Episcopal Church...Hooray, Jeannette!! All were passed by voice vote.

Eucharist was next, and it was really something to see. A huge convention hall, filled to overflowing with people, all lifting up their hearts and voices together. Although the music was all very new-agey, it was all enjoyable, and the experience was wonderful. From there, we went to the various legislative committees. Since I am a first-timer, I do not have a committee assignment, so I am free to choose the meeting I most want to attend. The winner was Social and Urban Affairs, which was holding an open hearing on B012, a resolution from the Bishop of Maine, requesting considerable leeway on the subject of same-sex blessings. Maine is a state which has recently adopted same-sex marriage, and so the Bishop finds himself in a quandry: the Canons require obedience to both the law and the Canons, but they contradict each other. Perceiving a pastoral need and an evangelical opportunity, the Bishop and his colleagues from the other states which have legalized same-sex marriage have requested the ability to respond to their various situations as they see fit, including solemnizing the legal marriages of same-sex couples. Some 31 people, including myself, testified before the committee to advocate the adoption of this resolution, and surprisingly, nobody testified against it. I claim credit for the biggest laugh of the meeting, when I quipped that Roman Catholic music (the tradition in which I was raised) is an oxymoron. I can only respond that I was stating the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, in good legal tradition.

Legislative session resumed in the House of Deputies from 4:30PM - 6:00PM. We sailed through a number of resolutions, but the important one set up a Committee of the Whole House to discuss Resolution B033, passed at the end of General Convention 2006. We confirmed the election of Two bishops, Rev. John Tarrant of South Dakota, and Rev. Lawrence Provenzano of Long Island, to much applause and rejoicing. Again, hilarity resulted when House President Bonnie Anderson ceded the chair to the Vice President, so that she could meet Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who is in town to observe and give a few speeches. Imagine the Vice Prisident's reaction when he discovered that he had received the gavel at a time when no further business was before the House! After much good-natured laughter and announcements from Secretary Gregory Straub, the House adjourned.

The Missouri deputation meets every day immediately after the close of business, and Canon Dan Smith really deserves special mention. He hosts all our gatherings, provides space and time for us to exchange information, runs errands for us if needed, and is just generally helpful and facilitates our full participation in the Convention. He enables us to concentrate more fully on legislation, so that we may fulfill our responsibilities completely. It is a behind-the-scenes job, and thankless to a certain degree, but he does it very well. Be sure to thank him if you should ever have the opportunity.

After our Missouri meeting, it was back to legislative committees. Archbishop Rowan spoke regarding the global economic crisis, and I attended a meeting of Integrity, the group committed to full inclusion of all baptized Episcopalians (especially including GLBT faithful). I am now aware of many more resolutions, including those from the Diocese of Missouri, which will require my attention in the coming days. On my way to a late dinner, I nearly ran into the Archbishop of Canterbury in a parking lot, but he didn't seem in the mood for conversation. I suppose everybody reaches their tolerance level at some point. I hope I have the opportunity to meet him again before he leaves.

Thursday is a busy day for me, beginning at 7:00AM and going until 10:00PM. Please remember me in your prayers...I'm going to need them! It's 2:00AM...I'm going to bed. Good night and God's blessings on you all.

C055

One of our Missouri resolutions is getting a hearing in Committee 14 on Thursday a.m.:

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 75th General Convention support and uphold persons in same-gender committed relationships of enduring love, mutuality, and fidelity; and be it further

Resolved, that the term "sexual orientation" in Title III, Canon 1, Section 2, shall protect all persons from denial of access to the discernment process for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church solely on the basis of being in such a relationship.

The discussion in committee has wondered how far it is appropriate or even possible for a resolution to dictate the way a canon is to be interpreted. The language is also not very clear, once people who haven't ever seen it before look at it. We'll see what happens!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Some Wednesday odds and ends

This morning's Eucharist had some very rhythmic and multi-ethnic music, numbers that I am not at all familiar with, but I did enjoy singing them, especially when sitting next to that talented choir guy from St. Peter's, Ladue. The music was well done by very capable musicians. Some of this was to celebrate the developments with the church in the Phillipines. The gathering hymn, "People of God, gather together" is a very good one - apparently not in the 1982 hymnal, but copyright to Augsburg Fortress Publishers, #109 from a book called "Voices Found". The Sanctus was the one our Cathedral has been using recently at 11:15 (Hymnal S 125).

The real treat for me was the musical treatment given "Breathe on me, breath of God" - Hymnal 508. This is a standard (and meaningful) hymn in many Protestant traditions. This morning, the pianist started out the introduction. I couldn't believe how SLOW it was going - generally a bummer for me. But about the third phrase in, the rhythm started to fill in. It was a wonderful, slow, rich, moving, soul style. Of all the hymn tunes which might be done soul-style, this was not the one I would expect. It was fabulous. It worked with great effect. During communion, they also did one of my favorites, "I want to walk as a child of the light" - Hymnal 490. At several points, the accompanist cut out and let the voices carry it in 4 parts a capella. Again, it's nice to be singing with Jay Kloecker at moments like this.

The Postlude was sung by the volunteer choir with a black woman soloist who reminded me of the young Aretha when she was still in Detroit. Only some of the oldest, die-hard traditionalists could resist moving and singing along with "I'm gonna sing when the Spirit says sing."

Bishop Gene Robinson (New Hampshire) spoke at an informal session in one of the food areas of the exhibit hall. BTW, the exhibit hall is getting to be a pretty lively place to hang around and have a good time and good food. Robinson's message was "Now is the time; now is the time for the Episcopal Church" to do the right thing boldly and confidently. He comes across as a really nice man, sensitive, thoughtful, and yet challenging and inspiring. He was there partly to promote Integrity and the Consultation - pushing lime-green t-shirts!

Tonight (at 6:15 PDT) there was a session for which the Archbishop of Canterbury was the main speaker. It was in a ballroom that seated about 3000, though I think the number in attendance was noticeably less than that. You'll never ever see so many Episcopalians fighting for a front seat - even Mike Clark!! The first introductions were from Bishop Greg Rickel (Olympia) who was at the Flower Festival at the Cathedral this spring. After a really eloquent introduction by Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori, Archbishop Rowan Williams spoke very deliberately about economic morality and left several challenges to us at differing levels. One theme was that we have lied to ourselves about a number of things (nicer but less truthful word: "deluded"), and it is high time for us to begin to tell the truth in love (with charity). And then there are issues [pronounced the Brit way - ISS-youse] which we must deal with to get out of the cycle of lies. I understand that this speech will soon be available on-line and also in Spanish, though I don't have a URL for it. It is one that you might want to hear more than once.

I went to the Committee 8 meeting after the session with the ABofC. The central focus was testimony from transgendered people in support of rewording the two anti-discrimination canons so as to include transgender issues. I felt that these witnesses spoke eloquently and thoughtfully on the issues out of their personal experience. The committee members asked very few questions of the witnesses, so it is difficult to assess how the testimony was received. I sense that the reception was positive, but we won't know until the committee votes.

Would you believe? The next Committee 8 meeting is at 7am tomorrow! I don't know whether this old geezer can make it at that hour. The main issue is preparing for the Committee of the Whole on B033 which will take place on Thursday and Friday in the House of Deputies.

I still can't get over wandering through the hotel and the halls of the Convention Center and constantly meeting bishops. Bishops from all over the place. Purple, purple, purple. Virtually all of them are cordial and chit-chatty. They do well at making you feel that you, as a lowly lay alternate, are a welcome part of the process of governing and directing this Church.

The busses, at least the Anaheim Resort Transit busses, must have governors on them set to 20mph. It drives you nuts how slow they move in fast traffic on the main drags. Today, late in the afternoon, I had to use those busses to do the one "tourist" thing that I wanted to: visit the Crystal Cathedral, which is about three or four miles from our Convention. It's a really distinctive building. Did you ever realize that this building, floor space about equivalent to a football field, all made out of windows, has NO air conditioning!!! There are windows they can open, and when that didn't do the cooling job, they installed some fans and motors adapted to the open windows. It still gets warm when the place fills up with people.

One of the Diocese of Missouri resolutions (C053 about the .7% for the MDGs) was discharged by the World Mission committee - sent to Committee 17 to be subsumed in resolution D019. While this may sound disappointing, our resolution was passed at diocesan convention in 2007 and other significant developments have intervened, changing the details. The discharge is not intended to ignore our diocesan concerns, just to streamline the legislative process in dealing with the issue.

I'll be following legislation again tomorrow and will report whatever seems to be significant on B033 and same-gender blessings. I'll be wearing my Integrity t-shirt for the Eucharist tomorrow morning.

Good night, Mrs. Slocombe (Mollie Sugden). We'll always remember you.

Don

Don

Jeannette Huey

Today, Jeannette Huey of our deputation was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Archives of the Episcopal Church. Her appointment was confirmed unanimously from the floor of the House of Deputies.

We wanted to celebrate for her, but alas, the fudge makers who are often at General Convention -- and of whom Jeannette believes makes the best fudge on earth -- are not here in Anaheim. We will celebrate with her appropriately later in the Convention.

The AB of C

Well, folks, midday hello from Anaheim.

I was just in the 11:00 meeting of Committee 8 - World Mission. They were to begin on B033, but this was deferred to pass either D026 or D027, about adopting the Five Mission goals of the Anglican Communion. I was puzzled, so I thought I would just have to wait for B033.

THEN - the reason for the change became apparent. In walked the Archbishop of Canterbury with a couple of his aides and hosts. He remained in the meeting, hearing the mundane deliberations about wording, etc. The committee chair, Gay Jennings of Ohio, really tried to push it to a vote while he was there, but the committee would have none of that. The resolution language calls for the ABofC to be notified about this by the Secretary of GC.

All in all, the Archbishop was in the committee session for nearly a half hour. Yes, he really does look much like he does on TV, except that somehow I had the impression that he was a bit taller and lankier than he is in person. Also, he has a very genuine smile which doesn't always show through in press conferences. [The B033 discussion, which will be followed by several more, began after the ABofC left.]

Perhaps the presence of the ABofC had something to do with it, but today I encountered the first protesters outside the convention center. Four guys who looked to me like displaced hippies from the 70s. Now that I think about how they looked, maybe a couple of them have been around since the 70s. They were shouting a whole variety of Scripture verses, screaming as loudly as they could.

Also, Integrity is having a t-shirt "unveiling" tomorrow. Everyone is supposed to wear one to the Eucharist, but they're asking that we don't wear them until then. The shirts say
HERE I AM
SEND ME!
I am a witness
to God's
inclusive love!
General Convention 2009
These were being "given away" to all who asked, but they were warmly accepting $5 donations for each shirt. I don't know how long they will last. I was there early and so there were substantial stacks, but there are a lot of Integrity-friendly folks here. Yes, I did bring along my rainbow suspenders to sport with the t-shirt.

I'll add a little more mundane material (about legislation) a little later.

Don

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The calm before the Storm

Okay, maybe not "before the storm" but before the first legislative day...
We are taking turns blogging. Your bloggers this evening are Lydia Agnew Speller and Mike Clark.

I arrived Sunday quite late having done church in the a.m. Monday was pretty free except for making sure that we registered and catching up with any legislation reading... A bunch of deputies went out for dinner in "Downtown Disney" , a kind of shopping and eating mall. The restaurant was really quite good, "Mediterranean", quite elegant.

By today the deputies and alternates were all here. Dan Smith has set up computers for us to use and carried in White Wine and treats of various kinds. We meet in the evening to update each other on what is going on. The ECW Delegates were arriving yesterday also but I haven't seen any of them yet.

Some fun things about Tuesday:

I was chatting with the Youth Presence delegates from Province V when they saw the PB walking by on her way to the platform for the welcome session. I told them to go say hi, and they did and she stopped and chatted with them. What I loved about this is that she could easily have had handlers who whisked her to the platform but instead she ambles across, more than having time for these great teen-agers.

Marshall Ganz talked about the Public Narrative project and was engaging and lively and clear and a fabulous teacher. The sample narrative was by the Michael Pipkin, priest in charge of the Falls Church in VA, the "remnant" of a church which split and joined another province. It was great. I have a lot to say about the Public Narrative Project but not today. (I am already a day behind in blogging)

We've heard a lot about the convention theme of Ubuntu.

Deputy Orientation included a "role play" of the process of proposing, amending, etc. a resolution. The sample resolution proposed that each deputation should have a mascot. The amendment proposed instead that each deputy should wear a hat or perhaps a crown. Resolutions were proposed by by Disney themed deputies, Deputy Cinderella from the diocese of Neverland, Deputy Hephalump from the diocese of Pooh Corner, you get the gist. It was a fun way to remind ourselves of the rules of order and parliamentary procedure.

You can read a lot about the Convention at the Communications Hub which is here. You can also track the progress of legislation from this page.
Here you can see the text of every resolution submitted, which committee it has been assigned to AND (new this year) you can see a list of which legislation is having committee hearings when.


Meanwhile, if you are on the right side of our hotel, you can see fireworks at Disney Land every night and temperatures over 100 are predicted for next week.
Okay, so I was supposed to blog yesterday. I am instead blogging this a.m. (first legislative day) and have go to now! Thanks for your prayers and your interest.

Lydia Agnew Speller

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Just a Little Fun

OK, we are about to take off for two weeks in Anaheim, California for the General Convention. Most, if not all of the stuff we have posted on this blog has been serious material -- and it is. But, we also need to keep perspective and one way to do that is to have some fun and keep our humor about us. The daily grind at General Convention begins with committee meetings at 7 a.m. and ends with the close of legislative sessions at 6 p.m. Then there are often open hearings or other things in the evening. So, as you can see, we need to keep our humor about us or the work will bog us under.

To add to the humor, here are some California things:

Mickey Mouse was born on November 18, 1928 -- he's a Scorpio

It is illegal to set metal balloons afloat in the air in Los Angeles County.

No person may charge admission to a house party.

No vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour.

Drinking intoxicating cement is prohibited.

In Blythe, CA., you are not permitted to wear cowboy boots unless you already
own at least two cows.

Isn't California fun! Pray for us and our ministry to the Church at General Convention.

Keep checking this blog for daily updates from your deputation and the ECW delegates.

Happy 4th of July!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Anglican Communion

There are several resolutions regarding our place in the Anglican Communion, and it is interesting to note that each of these resolutions have to do with mission and ministry within the Communion.

The resolutions have to do with promoting partnerships and witness through ministry. They are not about sanctions, responses to foreign intervention or the like, but rather they point to our need to reach out in mission and ministry toward our partners in the Communion.

You may visit these five resolutions by clicking on the title of this blog entry. To find these specific resolutions, simply click on the drop down menu "All Topics" and choose Anglican Communion. Then click "Refresh"

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Youth and Young Adult Ministry

Last week we posted a note regarding cut backs in youth and young adult ministry at the Church Center. Below we have a reply from the Rev. Margaret Rose, who oversees much of the work of that part of our church offices. It is shared so as to inform you of current staffing and actions in youth and young adult ministry.

In the Mission Leadership Center, Douglas Fenton is the Program Officer for Young Adult and Campus Ministries, Jason Sierra-a new position-is Associate Program Officer and works in the Seattle office. They coordinate and mentor teams of young adult and campus leaders across the church through a variety of networks and communication strategies. Miguelina Espinal, coordinator of the Pastoral Leadership Search Effort works specifically to recruit young people into a ministry discernment process, with particular emphasis on young people of color. David Copley, Program Officer for Mission Personnel, along with assisting staff have a strong focus on Young Adults as the Young Adult Service Corps where 15 missionaries serve in countries around the world. Additionally, Kim Robey, program officer for women's ministries and leadership has a strong focus on young women, having recently brought a number of young adults to the United Nations commission on the status of Women meeting at the UN. She is involved in ecumenical work in this arena as well as having a focus on trafficking in women and girls.

In the Center for Evangelism and Congregational Life there is a continuing commitment to youth. Through the Lifelong Christian Formation offices overseen by Bronwyn Skov, our efforts are supported by Jeffri Harre in Children's Ministries, and Bronwyn Skov and Sheryl Poole in Youth Ministries. There is a commitment to the ministries of young adults through our various ethnic-specific offices: Anthony Guillen in Hispanic/Latino Ministries, Angela Ifill in Black Ministries, and Fred Vergara in Asian Ministries. This is in addition to the work of Ruth-Ann Collins in Adult formation. Also, Tom Brackett, as the Program Officer for Church Planting and Redevelopment, works extensively with young adults in the establishment of new Christian communities across the country.

These are just a few of the specific ways in which youth and young adult ministries are being resourced within the Episcopal church center. The fluid boundaries of the Center structure allow for collaboration among and across centers. One example of that work has been the recent collaboration of church school curriculum for children and families of military which was shared by the Federal Ministries office and that of Ruth Anne Collins in Adult and Children’s formation.

Regarding B033 - What next?

I know some people may believe that General Convention 2006 Resolution B033 will just die on the vine as we begin a new convention three years later, but it may not be quite that easy. There is reason to believe that if we do not ‘undo’ B033, it will continue to be used to discriminate against well-qualified and competent candidates for the episcopacy.

I found the following explanation clear and informative (see link below). It is written by Integrity. They’ve done a good job of describing the next steps for B033 in a fair and objective way. Please take a moment to read this to understand why it is important for us to deal with this now. If we hide from it, this legislation will continue to do more damage to our church in the future.

http://walkingwithintegrity.blogspot.com/2009/06/faqs-about-moving-beyond-b033.html.

Missouri has a direct role in trying to move our church beyond B033. Resolution C054 was submitted by the 2008 Convention of the Diocese of Missouri. It will start in Committee number 8 on World Mission. The other four Missouri resolution numbers, titles and committees of origin are listed below.

Committee : Communications (cmte 19) C052 Increased Media Coverage of Global Crises
Committee: World Mission (8) C053 Continuing Support for MDG's
Committee: World Mission (8) C054 Regarding GC 2006 B033
Committee: Ministry (14) C055 Same Gender Committed Relationships
Committee: Prayer Book, Liturgy & Music (13) C056 Liturgies for Blessings

You can track the progress of all of these resolutions by going to the General Convention – Legislation website:

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/gc2009_8419_ENG_HTM.htm?menu=menu91928

The easiest way to track all 5 Missouri resolutions is to go to the above link, click on 'View Legislation'; on the page that pops up, click on the drop-down box showing (All Sources) and select ‘C – Diocese/Province’, then click on ‘Refresh’. The Missouri resolutions are on the second page, resolution numbers C052-C056.

I hope this helps. I’m proud of the work of our diocesan convention and I hope you are, too.
Mike Clark

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Five Missouri Resolutions

There are five resolutions forwarded to the General Convention from the Diocese of Missouri. These resolutions were passed by the Convention of the Diocese of Missouri.

You can see the text of these resolutions by clicking on the title to this blog entry.

1. To Increase Media Coverage of Global Crises

2. Continuing Support for the Millennium Development Goals

3. Regarding B033 and rescinding that action of the 2006 General Convention

4. People in Same Gender Committed Relationships are eligible for discernment of ministry -- both Lay and Ordained.

5. Allowing for the Development of Rites for Same-Gender Blessings

Please read the text of each resolution. Thank you.

Health Care

We were asked last week if there were resolutions filed regarding health care in the United States. The following is the only resolution prefiled.



Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 76th General Convention call on its congregations to undertake discussions within the parish of the issue of health care coverage in the United States, including:

a) recognition that health is multi-dimensional, with spiritual, social, environmental, and mental elements as well as physical,

b) reminder of personal responsibility for healthy life choices and concern for maintaining one's own health,

c) proclaiming the Gospel message of concern for others which extends to concern for their physical health as well as spiritual well-being,

d) responsibility as a parish to attend to the needs (including health-related needs) of others, both other members of the parish family and those of the wider community, the nation, and the world,

e) recognition that there are limits to what the healthcare system can and should provide and thus that some uncomfortable and difficult choices may have to be made if we are to limit healthcare costs; and be it further

Resolved, That, following up on the discussions within the parishes, communicants, individually and congregationally, be urged to contact elected federal and state officials encouraging them to:

a) create, with the assistance of experts in related fields, a comprehensive definition of "basic healthcare" to which our nation's citizens have a right,

b) establish a system to provide basic healthcare to all,

c) create an oversight mechanism, separate from the immediate political arena, to audit the delivery of that "basic healthcare,"

d) educate our citizens in the need for limitations on what each person can be expected to receive in the way of medical care under a universal coverage program in order to make the program sustainable financially,

e) educate our citizens in the role of personal responsibility in promoting good health with provisions of restricting to some degree treatments for disease in which the patient fails or refuses to comply with good medical practice; and be it further,

Resolved, That this resolution be distributed to all dioceses of the Episcopal Church of America for their consideration and support; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention call upon the Episcopal Church to establish and fund a task force to develop action plans and educational materials for dioceses and parishes to conduct the above-described activities; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $5,000 for the implementation of this resolution.


EXPLANATION

We, the members of the Bioethics Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee believe that:
a) provision of basic healthcare for all is a duty of a nation of Judaic-Christian values and, furthermore,
b) the current healthcare delivery system of the United States is flawed in failing to provide comprehensive coverage for 47 million of our citizens and, furthermore,
c) our current system with its escalating costs represents a non-sustainable financial challenge to employers competing in a global market,
d) the steps we specify above are all necessary to address this problem adequately.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Your Deputation

Thursday evening will be the last gathering in Missouri of your deputation. We will be reviewing the material from the listening sessions, going over local arrangements in Anaheim and getting ready to go. Our Episcopal Church Women delegates will be with us.

Soon we will be in Anaheim and working on the legislation and other material related to the life and mission of the Episcopal Church.

Since time is short, I want to encourage members of the diocese to take one last look at the Blue Book material on the web. Review those areas that are of importance to you, and send us emails or comments on this blog regarding those areas. Communication is two-way. We have been posting here for some weeks, we have held listening sessions, and many of you have sent of email or letters and sometimes talked to us directly. Don't stop now. Please let us know what is on your mind.

The work of the General Convention is detailed and often arduous. Items will change in a moment's notice. It is good to know what you think as we wend our way through the daily journey of the convention.

I also ask your continued prayers for your deputation, the ECW delegates and your bishop as we travel to California during this important juncture in the life of the Church.

To find the Blue Book material: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/gc2009_106480_ENG_HTM.htm or click on the blog title above.

Thank you for your support and prayers.

In Christ,


The Very Rev. Ronald Clingenpeel
Chair of the Missouri Deputation

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Regarding Comments to This Blog

We welcome comments to the blog page - we encourage them. We want to hear from you.

Please note that comments are moderated before they are posted. This is to avoid any inappropriate language or personal attacks. They will not be blocked because they disagree with the deputation, the poster or other comment writers. We encourage dialogue, conversation and disagreement, but we also encourage a generous spirit among all who comment.

Although we will post comments from as many as possible, please sign your name to comments. Let us each take responsibility for what we write. Anonymous comments have a more difficult time of being posted, and we may choose not to post an anonymous comment for no other reason than the author has not taken responsibility for the text.

When signing your name, please also indicate the congregation in which you worship.

Thank you so much. We look forward to hearing from you.

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