Sunday, July 12, 2009

General Convention, Day 5, Sunday, July 12

Sunday, July 12, Day 5

(NOTE: At the end of the day, we had a significant vote. It is reported at the end of this message.)

How wonderful to sleep a bit later this morning. My plan was to attend the ECW breakfast, but I didn't get to the exhibition hall in time to get tickets, so I slept late.

10:00 – We had the Convention's main Eucharist and the Ingathering of the United Thank Offering. The Presiding Bishop celebrated and preached to an enormous congregation that looked to me to be around 2,500 people.

The music and spirit was contagious. Some highlights from Bishop Jefferts Schori's sermon:

In the Gospel reading we heard the message "travel light." In the 19th century, missionaries often shipped their supplies ahead of them as they left for their journey into mission. They often packed their supplies in a coffin, not expecting to return home before their deaths.

Those missionaries took their culture with them. Culture can be an idol. Jesus sends us and tells us to travel light, to expect hospitality, to heal, and to announce peace, the Kingdom of God has come.

Are you open to receive what is offered here? What will you put down or leave behind in order to receive? Expect to meet the image of God in the other.

The Bishop told of a story about some young people who told her about going out into the city and offering "high-fives" to everyone they encountered. Some commuters stopped in their tracks to "high-five" the young people; others passed them by without a look. Whatever happened, the young people accepted it. The next day they were going to wave big signs saying, "Free Hugs."

Jesus told the disciples, Go! Just go. Notice – They went ahead of Jesus. Like an advance team. They announced, "The Kingdom of God is already here." Jesus told them to accept the response, whatever it is.

Are you ready to go ahead of Jesus? Expect to see evidence of God already there. Paul expected hospitality, even in jail.

Roland Allen told missionaries to bring the scriptures and sacraments, then get out of the way.

How much of a burden to our mission is culture and structure?

We are fed for service and we are fit for mission. Sharing our peace. It you find it, great. If not, move on.

The UTO offering will travel. All over – feeding, healing, preaching the Kingdom of God. The PB listed a long series of ministries that will be supported by the UTO. Ministries from all over the world and the U.S. Mission. Life on the road.

In the coming days, what welcome will you offer? What will you receive? Where will you announce peace? How will you heal?

Eat what is set before you and go out to become the sacrament of the Kingdom of God.
___________

After Eucharist, break for lunch.
___________

A little time in the exhibition hall before we resume.

Some other interesting ministries I found among the exibits:
The St. Nicholas Center has great ideas and resources to support celebrations in honor of St. Nicholas, especially in December. www.stnicholascenter.org
Dorcas House is an Episcopal Church ministry supporting children of prisoners in Tijuana, Mexico www.dorcashousefriends.org
There is a very impressive church in Palisades, California – St. Matthew's – that has a great tradition of developing outreach ministries. Good place to learn "how to." I didn't see their web site.
Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance – www.thegaia.org
___________

3:00 p.m. Legislative Session

Chaplain Frank Wade opened with a meditation. Notes from his talk:

Halfway point. Daunting list of decisions not yet made. They are the most complex. We feel as if we've been straining at gnats and still must swallow camels. We feel like we've been here a long time.

We've settled into a routine. Parliamentary decisions are making more sense. The shuffle between legislation and worship; liturgy and politics mean the same thing – the work of the people. We say "Aye" in one hall and "Amen" in the other hall. They are the same.

This is where we ought to be. It takes time to let the big decisions percolate. Our uncertainties are among the most familiar themes in scripture.

The only time our ancestors were certain of themselves is when they were making a calf. Otherwise they were following fire, or a cloud. Peter on the water – when he kept an eye on Jesus, he could walk; when he looked away, he began to sink. "Eyes on Jesus. Do the job." We're halfway there.
__________

We took up the first landmark resolution having to do with our policies with respect to our relationships within the Anglican Communion. Here is the text of D025:

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring. That the 76th General convention reaffirm the continued participation of The Episcopal Church in the Anglican Communion; give thanks for the work of the bishops at the Lambeth Conference of 2008; reaffirm the abiding commitment of The Episcopal Church to the fellowship of churches that constitute the Anglican Communion and seek to live into the highest degree of communion possible; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention encourage dioceses, congregations, and members of The Episcopal Church to participate to the fullest extent possible in the many instruments, networks, and relationships of the Anglican Communion,

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention reaffirm its financial commitment to the Anglican Communion and pledge to participate fully in the Inter-Anglican Budget; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm the value of "listening to the experience of homosexual persons," as called for by the Lambeth Conferences of 1978, 1988, 1998, and acknowledge that through our own listening the General Convention has come to recognize that the baptized membership of The Episcopal Church includes same-sex couples living in lifelong committed relationships characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God; and be it further

Resolved, that the 76th General Convention recognize that gay and lesbian persons who are part of such relationships have responded to God's call and have exercised various ministries in and on behalf of God's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and are currently doing so in our midst, and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals, to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, which call is tested through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church; and be it further

Resolved, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge that members of The Episcopal Church as of the Anglican Communion, based on careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and in light of tradition and reason, are not of one mind, and Christians of good conscience disagree about some of these matters.

Because I was standing in line to speak to the resolution, I wasn't able to take notes about the debate. We debated for 30 minutes, alternating between pro and con. The time ended before either I or Chris Keller could speak; we were both in line.

The House took a vote by orders. A vote by orders is a traditional and conservative structure that the General Convention observes, especially when it makes decisions on controversial or especially significant matters. In a vote by orders, we tally the vote in separate orders. The resolution must pass simultaneously by a majority vote in both the lay order and the clerical order.

Each diocese gets one vote in the lay order and one vote in the clerical order. Here's how that one vote is determined. There are four deputies in each order. It takes a majority of the four deputies to vote in the affirmative – 4-0 or 3-1 = "yes." A 2-2 vote is a divided vote and counts as a "no."

So anything that is significant or controversial cannot pass the General Convention on a simple majority. It takes something like a super-majority, and it has to pass both the lay and clerical order at the same time. Either house can defeat a matter. We don't make decisions lightly or with slim majorities.

Arkansas' vote on D025:
Lay "yes"
Clergy "divided" (which functions as a "no")


Results from the entire House:
Lay order: Needed to Pass – 50 Yes 77; No 31 – passed lay
Clergy order: Needed Pass – 49 Yes 74; No 35 – passed clergy
The resolution passes.

The resolution will now go to the House of Bishops for their deliberations and their decision whether to Concur or to Reject or to Amend and pass. If it is amended it would return to our House.


Lowell

2 Comments:

At 7:18 PM , Blogger Doug said...

Wonderful news! Pray for the Bishops of General Convention.

 
At 10:38 AM , Anonymous Nadia Winters said...

I noticed that you mentioned our organization, Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance. Thanks for posting our website! We partner with churches and other organizations all over the country in our work to battle HIV/AIDS in Malawi. Our President and Co-Founder, Bill Rankin, is actually a retired Episcopal priest. You can read more about our work at www.thegaia.org. Thank you!

 

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