Thursday, July 05, 2012

General Convention, Thursday, July 5

Today's Update from General Convention

Thursday, July 5

8:00 a.m. The House of Deputies is called to order.

Our Chaplain will be Cornelia Eaton of the Diocese of Navaholand.  Her first meditation:

She told of a Navaho ceremony about blessing openings and an opening prayer.

Credentials -- 108 dioceses are present
409 votes are necessary for a simple majority
544 votes for a 2/3rds vote

We started with the usual housekeeping and appointment business.  Scott Kirby of Eau Claire was elected Vice President of the House of Deputies, replacing Brian Prior who was elected Bishop of Minnesota

Lots of appointments and housekeeping stuff as we get organized. 


9:30 p.m. -- Our Opening Eucharist

It is an amazing and inspiring thing to hear around 1500 Episcopalians lift up voices with great energy to sing Beethoven  great "Ode to Joy."  I felt so moved with that joy that I could hardly sing.  The other hymns were good ones as well:  That GREAT hymn 597, "O day of peace that dimly shines..."; and 334, "Praise the Lord, Rise up rejoicing."  I left the service humming.

The calendar observation is one of my favorites:  Walter Rauschenbusch, Washington Gladden, and Jacob Riis.  The Presiding Bishop was the celebrant and preacher, alternating her prayers between English and Spanish. 

In her sermon she reminded us that we have guests here from around the world, including the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the President of the Elders of the Moravian Church.  We are in communion with both denominations.  She introduced other international visitors.  Their presence reminds us that we are here for "the healing of the world." 

She urged us to look beyond our own interests to God's intention for the world.  The good gifts we intend for ourselves and our families are the same things others want -- the Common Good. 

She spoke of each of the three persons commemorated today.  Each of them called the church to work for the reign of God on earth now as it is in heaven.  We seek to live more humane and more devout lives. 

Walter Rauschenbusch "insisted that private sin begets social sin when he named six sources:  'Religious bigotry, the combination of graft and political power, the corruption of justice, the mob spirit... and mob action, militarism, and class contempt - every student of history will recognize that these sum up constitutional forces in the Kingdom of Evil.;  He insisted that a historical tendency to substitute personal salvation for the kingdom of God meant that people "seek to save their own souls and are selfishly indifferent to the evangelization of the world."  The good news to the world, in his eyes, was about the reign of God on this earth.  

Washington Gladden understood Christianity as "a religion that laid hold upon life, and proposed first and foremost, to realize the Kingdom of God in this world."  He was the first cleric to stand up in favor of labor unions, and after he met WEB DuBois early in the 20th century, and saw some of the realities of African-American life in the South, he began to actively oppose segregation.  He exposed corruption in urban government, advocated public ownership of municipal resources, and is probably best remembered for a letter of denunciation that we wrote to his church's mission board for accepting "tainted" money from a captain of industry.

Jacob Riis was a Danish immigrant who suffered poverty, discrimination, and exploitation, and eventually becoming a well-known journalist.  He wrote about and photographed the tenement life of poor New Yorkers, and helped Teddy Roosevelt to clean up the New York Police Department. He also worked to clean up the New York City water system, being polluted bFive cents a spoty sewage upstream.  His anti-tenement work also led to the development of many small parks and gardens in New York City.  Here is his famous pictures Five Cents a Spot

11:15 -- Committee Meetings.  My first time to chair.  Didn't get badly lost.  After considerable discussion we supported funding for a study of the theology of marriage.  All resolutions from our committee go next to the House of Bishops.  After some less contentious things we recessed for lunch at 12:45.

2:00 -- Committee reconvened to begin dealing with resolutions concerning the trial use of the Holy Women Holy Men calendar commemorations.  We began with a proposed substitute that would suspend the authorized trial use, let the resource lie fallow for three years, and limit the number of new proposals for commemoration from the Standing Commission on Music and Liturgy.  MUCH discussion ensued before the substitute was voted down.  Another substitution motion did pass, asking us to do a lot of work re-examining the whole resource from the perspective of the principles for commemorations.

At 3:30 the CEO of Church Publishing came to answer questions that we raised yesterday about the possibility of their publishing liturgical resources on-line for free.  Short answer -- they can't. 

We returned to Holy Women Holy Men.  Thanks to some good work by some members of the committee, we were able to divide the main resolution.  That enabled us to ask for a reworking of some alternative collects and to to affirm the rest of HWHM.

After the 4:00 break, I learned from Bishop Benfield that the Ministry Committee had passed almost unanimously a resolution that affirms that the church will not exclude someone from the discernment process for ordination on the basis of their gender identification.  I've met quite a few transgender persons and priests, and I am so pleased that our church is so generous and compassionate that we may be choosing not to discriminate against them. 

4:30 p.m. -- Afternoon session of the House of Deputies

Chaplain today is Dr. Jennie Te Paa -- I am delighted.  Six years ago she gave one of the best sermons I've ever heard.  She is from New Zealand, a scholar and Polynesian.  If the Media Center publishes her prayer I'd like to pass it along in a subsequent email.

In our afternoon session several of the members of the Official Youth Presence addressed the house on a resolution asking for restoration of money for the Episcopal Youth Event.  Maria Taylor of St. Paul's spoke beautifully in support of the resolution, which passed.  EYE still might not be funded, depending on the work of PB&F and the Convention.  I've got a picture of Maria at the podium and of her image projected on one of the "big screens."  We're very proud of her.

We had an interesting text proposed:  "A Call to Action by the Task Force on Older Adult Ministries."  The committee recommended adoption.  A couple of elderly deputy complained that the language was condescending.  They find getting old exciting and stimulating.  The House agreed with them and rejected the text.  We finished the entire calendar of items in front of us.  That's a rare event.

At the end of the session, they showed pictures of the Senior Deputies who have served seven General Conventions or more.  This is #8 for me, and here's the picture that was on the jumbotron.  (Somehow I can't get it to rotate.)  We enjoyed an early adjournment at 6:17

6:30 - Reception for the Chicago Consultation. Great get-together. Well attended; good energy. We have quite a few visitors from Africa. The Chicago Consultation has been working to help promote relationships with African Anglicans who wish to talk openly about a more inclusive and compassionate church and to give voice to many Anglicans from Africa who have been marginalized or underrepresented in conversations around the Anglican Communion. We watched a wonderful video and got to visit with some of the people who were in the video.  For more about the Chicago Consultation, visit the web site:




At 9:38 AM , Blogger Russ Snapp said...

Thanks, Lowell, for your good work at Convention, and for this blog. I enjoyed reading about Walter Rauschenbusch, Washington Gladden, and Jacob Riis. In discussing the first two, you mentioned Christianity as central to their vision. Was this the case with Riis? I admire him, of course, but should someone be on our calendar, however admirable, if he/she didn't have an explicitly Christian motivation? Thanks.


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