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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!

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