Thursday, July 12, 2012

General Convention, 2012 - The Last Day

Thursday, July 12, the Last Day
General Convention notes

8:00 a.m. -- Legislative Session
We started with a fine prayer written by Steven Charleston:
Do not doubt the faith that brought you this far, do not doubt the hope that you still carry. I know that your journey has been a long one, with enough disappointments along the way to discourage a saint, but you trusted yourself to make this climb, you believed in who God made you, and you took the chance. Don't quit now. Don't turn away. The outcome may not go according to plan, but it will be a blessing. You did not come this long distance to miss the moment when you know the destination was worth the trip. Sometimes to have faith, you just keep moving.

We made several procedural changes to speed legislation.  We'll try to pass all of the "discharge" motions as a group.  We'll try to let non-controversial resolutions go through without speeches of advocacy.

On the fun side:  I started the day in third place in Bonnie Ball - - but I imagine competition will be fast and furious today.

Some notes about things going on outside the hall.  A waiter at a restaurant near the Convention Center asked who we are?  The Episcopal Church General Convention, was the answer.  Well, the waiter said, I wish you could stay forever.  You are the nicest bunch of Christians we've had here.  Usually these church groups just make me mad when they are here.

Yesterday was "dress like Secretary Gregory Straub Day."  Gregory is known for his bow ties and his colorful sports coats.  Ted Holder lent one of his to me (and tied it for me).  There were macrame bow ties, balloon bow ties, and one youth representative just wrote "Bowtie" on a piece of paper that he pinned to his collar.

Our first order of work will be to deal with resolutions that originate in the House of Deputies.  If passed, they will go to the House of Bishops for their consideration.

 We passed several resolutions dealing with internal things --  the discipline and structure of the church.  Then we passed things having to do with external things.  We passed a resolution encouraging refugee resettlement.  We passed a resolution opposing the Immigration Enforcement's Secure Communities Program and racial profiling.  A deputy asked what is racial profiling, calling it a fiction.  A dark-haired Anglo deputy from Arizona offered a litany of experiences she has had -- being pulled over four times for equipment malfunctions her auto mechanic cannot find, having to show her passport to prove her citizenship or risk jailing until she could.  We passed a resolution calling for a shift of rhetoric from war language to criminal language as we oppose terrorism worldwide.  We passed a resolution of solidarity with communities who bear the greatest burdens of global climate change: indigenous peoples, subsistence communities, and the poor; asking for movement away from fossil fuels toward more sustainable alternatives.  We passed job creation legislation.  We made a moral commitment to health care for all.  

11:00 a.m. We had our closing Eucharist.  Presiding Bishop Jefforts Schori preached.  The lection included a passage about refraining from arguing and urging agreement within the church.  Nice quote from the P.B. - "We won't all agree before the second coming.  But there is but one and only rule:  Love one another."  She cited St. Augustine's famous dictum, "Love God, and do what you please."  Deep down, the Body of Christ has memory of trustworthiness.  Maybe we can really learn how to love everybody in the church.  "Take a flying leap into the future and toward the other," she said.

After Lunch, a deputy from Dallas read a statement from a group of bishops and deputies who object strongly to the Conventions actions to create blessings for same-sex relationships.  After the statement he invited deputies who agree with the statement to stand.  A number of deputies did so.  Most of the South Carolina deputation has left.

We passed a number of things in a block of work, especially things to be discharged or referred to an interim body.  We passed resolutions for small congregations, for older persons, an anti-bullying resolution, a measure commending labor organizing and resources such as those provided by the Interfaith Worker Justice, a resolution requesting bishops to distribute "A Prophetic Clergy Call to Action", a measure requesting every church to declare themselves as "Gun Free Zones", an endorsement of anti-racism training, a condemnation of threats against sexual minorities, a resolution opposing dangerous fracking. 

A resolution recommending we return to a 10-day convention passed.  I'm very glad.  The current 8-day convention is way too rushed and pressured, and it leaves little time for things like small-group Bible study, presentations, meditations, and things that help inspire energize and educate the church.

All of the measures I've mentioned above must go to the House of Bishops for their action.  We now take up items that we can act upon with finality because they come to us from the House of Bishops.

We agreed with the Bishops to move the Church Center away from its current (expensive) headquarters in New York City.  The Social and Urban Affairs committee passed resolutions to deter backlisting of workers, condemn the practice of wage theft, move toward full inclusion of persons with developmental disabilities, and create an alternative to the prison pipeline.

It seems that the House of Bishops have finished with everything.  We don't have anything else to send to them. 

I was able to get all of our committee's legislation through in my last presentation.  I think the Daily Prayer resource will be something the church will treasure for generations to come.  And while introducing our new set of prayers for animals, I got a lot of Bonnie-Ball points.  I think I've got a great chance for a solid second place finish.

Wait!!  I've just gotten word that my last at-bat was a grand slam -- I've passed Secretary Straub for first place in Bonnie-Ball.  He still gets last chance as we wind down.  I'm betting his final announcements will give him the victory.  But I'm proud of a solid second.  

I think we are very close to having all of the resolutions handled.  Amazing.  

The "open communion" resolution came back to us.  The bishops struck the sentence "We also acknowledge that in various local contexts there is the exercise of pastoral sensitivity with those who are not yet baptized."  That's disappointing.  We voted to concur nonetheless.   

We've made it to the courtesy motions.  I'm going to try to send this out anticipating near adjournment.

It's been a privilege to serve as a deputy to this convention.  It is an historic one in several ways.  It also re-confirms my affection and respect for this institution -- the General Convention -- and renews my love for this Episcopal Church.  I LOVE this Church. 


At 9:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you continue to do great work on behalf of those marginalized by our society. Something caught my eye today - any ideas on how the Gun Free Zone resolution may be implemented in Arkansas Episcopal churches. Kind of curious.. Resolution D0003

Great blogs! Thanks.


At 7:37 AM , Blogger Lowell said...

Hi Janet,

The Resolution asks that we declare our churches as "Gun-Free Zones." My guess is that this would be something that could be requested of the Bishop or the Executive Council by anyone or by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship.

Ironically, this might cause us some problems at St. Paul's. Sometime back we decided to hire off-duty police officers to be present during Community Meals. It was a response to a number of problems and a response to requests from good guests who were being intimidated by some other guests. The police presence has been a great help to everyone -- staff, volunteers and guests. BUT, the officers are required to be armed. We talked about that at Vestry. Our consensus, which is one I agree with, is that we don't like guns, wish the officers weren't required to wear them, but we like the effect of peace that their presence affords everyone.


At 3:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is ironic and don't think I knew that about St, Paul's. My first response is 'what a cop out' bring in the guns does not really solve or heal the underlying problem. I'll look carefully at the language from convention and pray about if I should suggest something to the Bishop. Thanks again and it is interesting that we don't agree on this one!

In peace,


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