Thursday, June 15, 2006

Thursday morning thru 4:30

Thursday, June 15; Day 3; Morning through 4:30 p.m.

While over 1,000 people packed the hall to participate in last night's hearing about the Special Commission's report in response to the Windsor document, Pan Adams was chairing the Program, Budget & Finance (PB&F) spending hearings. Almost 150 people attended; 51 spoke addressing 28 different ministries over a 2 1/2 hour session. Tonight, PB&F will have a funding hearing to listen to how the church might fund its mission.

Our Prayer Book and Liturgy Committee hosted a hearing on resolutions that intend to reaffirm the words of the Prayer Book that Baptism is full initiation in the church. The intention is to bring together over the next three years a diverse forum of scholars and others to clarify the canons and constitutions and to promote a coherent model for lifelong formation, education and training for growth in faith.

The issue is that Baptism is the initiatory rite of the Church and Confirmation is a pastoral rite. A pastoral rite is not a credential rite, i.e. it is argued that it is inappropriate that one would be confirmed in order to do something that you couldn't do if you were not confirmed (like serve on the Vestry, be a Lay Eucharistic Minister, etc.)

Speaking in support of the resolution were three giants of liturgical scholarship, Louis Weil, Lionel Mitchell and John Westerhoff.

Dr. Weil said that we are still living into the theology of the Baptismal rite and Baptismal covenant which was fundamental to the creation of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Confirmation classes are too limited in scope to meet the lifelong need for formation. Formation needs a greater context. Too many people jump through the hoop to "get confirmed" and then graduate from continuing education and formation.

Hearing Dr. Mitchell trace the history of the development of the church's initiation rites was like listening to Thomas Jefferson talk about the Declaration of Independence and Constitution. He is concerned first that we confirm the integrity of the sacrament of baptism -- it is sufficient, says Mitchell.

Dr. Westerhoff says that Confirmation has been carrying too heavy a burden. A ritual should be focused -- to do one thing and to have related catechesis about that one thing. Confirmation has been used as the rite that is used (1) for a person to become an Episcopalian, (2) as a rite of passage into adult responsibility for a youth's faith, and (3) the completion of initiation. That's too much.

Then he gave us a quick teaching about catechesis (what we used to call "teaching" / the word means "christening"). Catechesis needs to be 3 things -- intentional, life-long, and related to rites of the church. There are three kinds of catechesis. (1) Formation (or Nuture) -- a natural process; we all learn one way or another. Formation is our participation and practice in our particular way of life. We we be formed in faith? How faithful will our formation be? (2) Education is critical reflection / self-critical reflection. Education demands change, and can be transforming. (3) Instruction or training, which gives us skills. Training is how we acquire knowledge (or credentials for tasks). We need all three in our life-long teaching and learning in the church.

At our morning Eucharist, Presiding Bishop Griswold preached on the feast of Evelyn Underwood. When he was 15, a priest lent him her book "The Life of Christ" which opened Frank's eyes to the interior life that energizes and sustains our life in the world. Underwood's study "Practical Mysticism" argued that all Christians are called to intimacy with Christ, not because it is what we want, but intimacy is what Christ wants. It is a misconception to equate mysticism only with visions or dramatic emotions. Everyone can be a mystic. Mysticism is our call to a relationship of reunion with Christ and with other Christians in the Holy Spirit, fostered in prayer. Our reading from Wisdom spoke of Wisdom not as a body of information, but a person, an embodied relationship pressing into "holy souls" which "makes them friends of God." Paul says that Christ is the Wisdom of God. John invites us into relationship with Christ -- abide wit me and I in you. In that same passage Jesus calls us friends. The Spirit draws us together as friends and as friends of God. How does that prepare us to be eager to serve the world in his name.

From noonday prayers meditation: "If you really want to know a people, you need to know for what they hope."

We've resumed legislative activity. So far pretty routine stuff. The most heat generated today is about a resolution calling for the development of materials "to assist the church to address anti-Jewish prejudice expressed in and stirred by portions of Christian scriptures and liturgical texts..." A substitute amendment was offered to omit the reference to scripture so as not to infer that there is any anti-Semitism in scripture. It was pointed out that we have a history of interpreting some scriptural passages in an anti-Semitic manner. We concurred with the House of Bishops' resolution that included the consideration of interpretations of scripture in those materials by a 68% to 32% margin.

Lunch break. First good sit-down meal I've had since I've been here.

We passed the first of the resolutions from the Special Committee #25 concerning our response to the Windsor Report. This resolution reaffirms that the Episcopal Church is a "constituent member of the Anglican Communion... making a commitment to the vision of interdependent life in Christ, characterized by forbearance, trust, and respect and commends the ideal expressed in Sections A and B of the Windsor Report as a means of deepening our understanding of that commitment."

Some statistics on the number of resolutions at this convention compared with 2003. We had 336 resolutions in 2003, 332 in 2006.

I'm going to take advantage of a break to send this email.


To add your voice to the conversation, please post a comment. Click "comment" below.

Keep us in your prayers.


At 2:21 PM , Blogger Marian Kunetka said...

I am depressed about the response to the Windsor report. The basic tenents we hold dear come from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His acceptance of all who came to him was 100%. He held everyone in his arms, everyone. This is a sad day for our church.

At 7:19 PM , Blogger John Berry said...

Can you add a little clarity? In passing the first two resolutions, what impact does this have on gay, lesbian, transgender members and the people who love and respect them? Has the Church once again turned its back?


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