The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church convenes in Austin Texas, July 5th - 13th, 2018

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Day 7 - Deputy Booker

Bishop Smith and the Missouri Deputation (Not to be confused with the 60's folk band of the same name)

Remember how I described yesterday as a day of building dramatic tension?  Well, today, July 1st, 2015, the House of Deputies made history. 

In the morning we had our final discussions and then voted for an overhaul of the structure of The Episcopal Church.  I won't try to summarize all of the changes, but there were a lot of them, from
Diocesan "askings" to CCABs* [*Don't feel bad if that doesn't make sense to you.].  I'm sure that clear summaries will be posted online, but for now it's best to understand us as taking a chance and hoping that a more vibrant and effective TEC will emerge from the policy changes.

The bigger news was the vote on A036 and A054, the proposed changes in the marriage canons.  These both passed by over 80%.  I will try to summarize what they said:
1.  The canons now recognize same-sex marriage for those who live in places where it is legal.
2.  Same-sex marriages can use the service in the BCP with appropriate modifications as well as the service in "I will bless you...", and "I will bless you..." can be used in mixed-sex weddings.
3.  Bishops can decide whether to allow same-sex weddings in their Dioceses, and they can determine which services can be used.
4.  Clergy have a strong right of conscience to refuse to perform any weddings even if permitted in their Diocese.  (This isn't actually new, but they are offered explicit protections for acts of conscience.)

As we were told by the committee that drafted the proposals, it was a compromise that will be less than perfect for pretty much everyone, but which the Bishops had already voted on and had agreed they could live with.

As if the day wasn't interesting enough, Bishop Scott Hayashi, the Bishop of Utah, had arranged for musical program for us.  So, we took over the Mormon Tabernacle and had (a) a Japanese drum band (b) a Baptist gospel choir (c) an Episcopal choral group (d) Mexican dancers (e) a group of Catholic musicians from countries in South and Central America (f) a Native American dance troupe and (g) the 220-strong American Festival Choir and Orchestra under the direction of a former director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Despite the fact that the Tabernacle was uncomfortably hot, we were utterly blown away by the quality and diversity of the music.

To add to the magic of the evening, the whole thing was free; Bishop Hayashi called in some favors and got the space and all of the performers as free gifts to show appreciation for the General Convention.  A leader in the Mormon (LDS) Church [a member of the Presidency of the Seventy] was on stage and greeted us and talked about his wonderful relationship with the Bishop.

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