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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Notes from a bystander

Beth invited me to write on this blog, as an alumna of many GC's and because I know that a person has way more time for blogging about GC if  s/he is not actually AT GC.  Since I am having mild GC withdrawal, I have revived my twitter account @interimspeller and read countless tweets on the topic #GC77.


Handy things to know if you are reading General Convention blogs or twitter feed for the first time:
PB=Presiding Bishop
PHOD=President of House of Bishops (modeled on POTUS I assume)
HOB=House of Bishops, aka "the junior house"
HOD=House of Deputies
PB&F=Program, Budget and Finance, the budget people. Last time the budget drove some draconian changes in program priorities and staffing of the larger Episcopal Church and people are not wanting to see that happen again.

I was a little startled by the opening comments of the PB, Katharine Jefferts Schori and of the PHOD Bonnie Anderson. They seem to think that all of their hearers are aware of fierce and open conflict in the last triennium and I was a little puzzled, despite being aware of various issues. I'm wondering if there is  what my mother-in-law calls "an atmosphere" and/or a lot of gossip about tensions between PB an PHOD/Executive Council and between HOB and everyone else.

I watched much of the opening Eucharist, including the PB's sermon. It is interesting to remember turn of the 20th century social reformers in the midst of our own time of economic crisis and inequality. I was very taken with the choir's rendition of Jean Ritchie's "Now is the cool of the day."  Watching 1000 people trying to pass the peace in a hotel ballroom is rather comical. Try as I might, I could not see any of our deputies on the video, although I saw other people I knew. Not suggesting you weren't there, just hoped to catch a glimpse of you!

I also watched the "Voices of Witness: Out of the Box" video from Integrity http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzCANWGsEdc and was heartened by reports that the addition of Trans inclusion to the nondiscrimination passages in the canons seemed to have a lot of support. I believe that these resolutions go to the HOB first, so we'll see how they go. I have not paid as much attention to the PBandF (Program, Budget and Finance) issues or to the Structure committee, I gather the hearings for Structure are overflowing. Apparently the bishop's committee Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music has been having a lot of conversation about Holy Women, Holy Men. Oh, and if anyone wants to know, I am against authorizing The Message but believe that the Common English Bible is okay.


So, Diocese of Missouri deputies, at least one person is hanging on your every word, wanting to know how things seem to you.

May God bless you, friends, may the techies make the voting process work properly and may the airconditioning in the hall work well and the Holy Spirit blow among you.

Lydia

2 comments:

  1. This would be from Lydia Speller, former rector of St. Mark's-St. Louis. Which conventions did you attend? Also, maybe you can give us a little idea of the rhythm of the convention, how the work happens during the day?

    Here is a link to the sermon from today's Eucharist, preached by the presiding bishop: http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2012/07/05/presiding-bishop-preaches-at-general-conventions-opening-eucharist/:

    "Our ongoing challenge is to look beyond our own interests to God’s intent for this world. That will continue to be our challenge until the end of all things, for there is nothing so characteristic of sin as the centrality of our own self-interest. We will have repeated opportunities here to remember and to turn around. We will have opportunities to reach beyond ourselves to neighbors here and far away. The good gifts that we crave for ourselves and our own families are the same ones that God intends for all his children. Deputies and bishops are elected to consider the common good, not just their own congregations or dioceses, or only this Church."

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  2. I am deeply grateful to you, Lydia, for "blogging from home." Hey! Remember all those times I nagged you Deputies, begging for news and updates? :) Well, now I understand. I have been in Indianapolis for about 72 hours, and I have just now had time to get my laptop out of its case. The schedule here is grueling! Often, there is not even time to get a meal (or even a snack) between all the meetings and hearings. Lordy! I am now experiencing what you endured for so many years.

    Lydia wrote: "I was a little startled by the opening comments of the PB, Katharine Jefferts Schori and of the PHOD Bonnie Anderson. They seem to think that all of their hearers are aware of fierce and open conflict in the last triennium and I was a little puzzled, despite being aware of various issues. I'm wondering if there is what my mother-in-law calls "an atmosphere" and/or a lot of gossip about tensions between PB an PHOD/Executive Council and between HOB and everyone else."
    So was I, Lydia.
    I had powerful reactions to the PB and PHoD's opening remarks in the opening session. But my reaction was a bit different than Lydia's. The PB's remarks seemed to me typical of hers. Poetic ... calling us to our best selves ... calling the Church to her highest function. She urged us to seek out those in Indianapolis "on the other side" of our debates and engage in reconciliation, then extended that to speak about reconciliation throughout the whole Anglican Communion.

    She urged us to reach out to that vast demographic who identify themselves as "spiritual but not religious." I sense that "SBNR" is emerging as a meme here. She observed that this a field ripe with opportunity. She observed that there are many people with deep spiritual questions who have little or no experience with the Church, or -- worse yet -- who have had only negative experiences with Church. I agree with the PB that we have a marvelous message to share with those people.

    Personally, I found PHoD Anderson's comments late in her address jarring and dissonant. In my personal journal, I wrote, "Is this a 'shot across the bow' toward the House of Bishops?" She made a comment that "some people" want to reduce the diversity of our governance and want to dilute the voice of our clergy and laity. I think she was referencing some resolutions such as Resolution B015 (available at http://www.generalconvention.org/gc/resolutions).

    But I was encouraged by PHoD Anderson's urging that we not make any false choices between mission and governance. I think she is urging us to keep our eyes on the prize -- that we not think mission and governance are difference are different or conflicting things. I would add that when we get the "mission" piece right and the "governance" piece right, we have a very good chance to advance the work of our Church and of the kingdom.

    Let me say again how grateful I am that Lydia is kicking off this conversation. We Deputies are running from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. with meetings, and it's very difficult to blog here.

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