Friday @ General Convention
At 7:30 a.m. committees got to work. We now have passed the 50-resolutions mark referred to the Prayer Book & Liturgy Committee. We've still got tons of work to do. But Pan's job at PB&F is harder. She needs $5 million more to meet all of the program requests presented to the appropriations committee of the church. We had hearings on two new resolutions presented to us. One resolution directs the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to prepare rites for the loss of a domestic animal. I'm for it. The other is a resolution acknowledging "that the Bible has always been at the centre of Anglican belief and life" and declaring that "Scripture is the Church's supreme authority." (language from paragraph 53 of Windsor Report) We had a lively and nuanced series of Q & A with the sponsor of the bill, one of my favorite deputies Kendall Harmon. Kendall was on our committee last year and is one of the most articulate conservative theologians in the church. He resisted amendments such as adding "Jesus Christ as revealed in Scripture is the Church's supreme authority" and other such suggestions. It was also suggested that the resolution might add language from the next paragraph 54 of Windsor. The question Kendall's resolution raises concerns the relationship of the authority of scripture to the authority of God. It'll be a fine debate.
Our preacher for today's Eucharist was Martha Horne the Dean of the Virginia Seminary. She did a lovely job dancing with the oddly coupled themes of the feast of Joseph Butler and a Day of Celebration of Women's ministry. She created a complementary tent enclosing law and love, reason and inspiration, male and female. Our music was led by a tight rock/jazz combo who offered creative settings for plainsong, hymns and Eucharistic settings. It really worked! Put some ideas in my mind for some creative worship.
At our table, one of our members talked about a parish group for elders at her church called "Wisdom Gifts." The participants tell their stories, and in doing so they are better able to see how these are gifts from our "wisdom people."
When the legislative session resumed, yesterday's vote by orders was reported. A proposal to cease the practice that requires anyone elected bishop within 3 months of General Convention to be confirmed by General Convention was defeated by one vote in each order, which means we will continue that tradition of voting confirmations.
A word about a vote by orders. The General Convention is a structurally conservative institution. Whenever anything controversial (and some substantive things that may not be controversial) are to be decided, we will vote by orders. Here's how it works. Each diocese has one vote in the clerical and one vote in the lay order. Adoption requires a majority of dioceses voting in the affirmative in both orders. We poll the four members of each order to determine the diocesan vote. A 3-1 or 4-0 vote is "yes." A 1-3 or 0-4 vote is "no." A 2-2 is a divided vote and is counted as a "no." Therefore, it takes considerably more than a majority to pass any vote by orders.
This afternoon (Friday) we had another vote by orders on the question of whether the church will adopt the Episcopal Revised Common Lectionary as the lectionary of the church, with the current Book of Common Prayer Lectionary available as an alternative until 2010. The RCL passed overwhelmingly on a vote by order (Lay - 77 yes / 32 no & divided; Clerical - 77 / 33. The RCL is our official lectionary effective on the First Sunday of Advent, 2007.
Earlier today I took the morning off the floor and was able to go through the Convention Exhibit hall. Every three years I order new clergy shirts and black suits during convention, taking advantage of Whipple's 15% off convention discount. In the exhibits area I saw Madge Brown of Little Rock who is the primary exhibitor at the Community of Hope booth. I went by the American Anglican Musician's booth where they were playing a DVD of the Arkansas Choir Camp at Subiaco that Charlie Rigsby of St. Paul's directs. On the video I saw Linda Kelly directing a choir, and I recognized lots of the children singing. Great fun.
Two other things in the air. We will be considering establishing interim Eucharistic sharing with the United Methodist Church. Interim sharing means that we stand together with ordained members of both churches at the table in order to learn more about each other. We spent many years of interim sharing with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America before moving toward mutual recognition and intercommunion. Also in the air, confirmation of the election of the Rev. Barry Beisner as bishop coadjutor of Northern California is being questioned because he has been divorced twice and married three times. That fact was not an issue during the election, but has been raised since by people outside the diocese.
We threw/invested (you interpret) a bunch of money in church plants. There was some division in the deputation whether that was a good idea. We'll let everybody defend themselves when when they get home. Sandy Powers was elected to the ECW National Board as the Province 7 representative. Mandy Alford is the "honored woman" from the Diocese of Arkansas. Seminarian Terri Daily is 40 today. Linda Nelson cam by the Arkansas room for a visit. Kathy's plane is delayed, and I'm not happy about that.
To add your voice to the conversation, please post a comment. Click the "comment" link below.
Keep us in your prayers.
Anyone may subscribe to receive these General Convention updates by email.
Send a regular email to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type in the body of the email message the following command: JOIN lowell your-email address
(example: JOIN lowell email@example.com -- if your email address were firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Rev. Lowell Grisham
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Clergy Deputy to General Convention