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Thursday, July 9, 2009

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.


  1. Jay,

    Thanks for the post. I am not a morning person either. I feel your pain!

    Greg Lynch

  2. Prayers indeed, for you all, and thanks for your service.


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