Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday, July 11 -- General Convention Notes

Today's Notes from General Convention

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 -- General Convention Notes

7:30 a.m.  Our committee had hearings on four resolutions.  Most of the comments were directed toward the conversation about which Bible translations to add to the authorized versions for public worship in the Episcopal Church.  Earlier in the convention, when we introduced the resolution recommending several translations that had been vetted and studied by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music and another filed resolution, there was an amendment from the floor to add the English Standard Version (2007).  That amendment passed and the resolution passed.  But when a deputy read a passage from the ESV than many would regard as a poor translation slanted toward condemnation of gay Christians, it was moved and passed that the resolution be returned to the committee.

There was a lot of passionate testimony at the hearing -- both pro and con -- about the ESV.  It is a Bible with a strong evangelical flavor -- a bishop said it was the successor of the Geneva Bible, strongly reformed, somewhat Calvinist.  But much of the material that many find particularly offensive or of questionable scholarship is in the annotations and commentary rather than the translation itself, which is what we are considering.  One person said the translation was a project that James Dobson of "Focus on the Family" had a large hand in.  Many evangelical Episcopalians very strongly prefer the ESV.  We already have translations that use similar phrases and English words for some of the "clobber passages," as the verses are sometimes called that are used to defend interpretations that define gay intimacy as essentially sinful.  

Our committee chose to refer the resolution to the Standing Commission for Liturgy and Music, since this translation was not part of their earlier study, and to ask them to make a report back to the next General Convention.  Since the recommendation for the ESV came from the floor of this Convention, some felt they didn't have the time and resources to evaluate it.  We hope to adopt the Common English Bible (2001).  I imagine this will provoke a floor fight.

The committee went through the other remaining legislation, concurring with Bishops on their changes to "Daily Prayer for All Seasons."  We referred some resolutions promoting more work to create digital liturgical resources.  We referred all marriage issues to the new Task Force on the Theology of Marriage.  

9:30 Eucharist -- First:  a link to the text of the sermon from Monday by Dr. Mary Crist,  and the sermon yesterday by Albert Cutie.  

Today is the Feast of St. Benedict.  A favorite!  We are using rite one and the music is contemplative and beautiful, led by the Cathedral Choir of Men and Girls of Christ Church Cathedral here in Indianapolis.  A delightful sermon by someone I didn't know and whose name wasn't in the bulletin.  (I'll follow up about her later.)  She did some wonderful reflections on the three promises of the Rule -- stability, obedience and conversion of life -- richly interpreted from the original latin words.  Here's a link to the sermon.  But I want to quote from a great riff toward the end of her message, about the way we welcome in the Episcopal Church.

11:15 a.m. Legislative Session.  We are dealing with the Budget today.  The enabling resolution was presented.  We had a Committee of the Whole period where people could make statements about the budget.  The PB&F Committee offered response.  We had some time talking in small groups.  

After the lunch break we returned to the budget.  I'm delighted that John Tisdale is in the deputation and is carefully following the presentations and conversations.  If you've got a question about the budget, he's your guy.  I'm like Sargent Schultz on "Hogan's Heroes" -- I know nothing....   NOTHing...  NOTH.....ING.  (not too good with numbers)  The budget as presented by PB&F held off three amendments and was adopted overwhelmingly.  A HUGE job.

We voted for 18 spots (two per province) for the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop.  I was delighted to be elected as one of the representatives from Province VII.

We passed a resolution calling for humane treatment of those imprisoned in Cuba for religious reasons.  (must go to the Bishops)  We concurred with the bishops to endorse a robust resolution for working to confront poverty, supporting Asset Based Community Development and to work with faith-based groups such as PICO, IAF, Gamaliel Foundation, the DART Network, and the Inter-Valley Project.

We had a VERY lively discussion about a nuanced resolution dealing with the discussion about access to communion, or open communion --  
Here is the text:  "Resolved... that The Episcopal Church reaffirms that baptism is the ancient and normative entry point to receiving Holy Communion and that our Lord Jesus Christ calls us to go into the world and baptize all peoples.  We also acknowledge that in various local contexts there is the exercise of pastoral sensitivity with those who are not yet baptized."  It appears that there are many who are very uncomfortable with this, wishing to re-assert the canons that communion is for the baptized.  There was a call for a vote by orders.  The Arkansas deputation voted for the resolution.  The results:   
Lay:  85 Yes / 16 No / 9 Divided -- passes with 77%
Clergy:  70 Yes / 24 No / 16 Divided -- passes 64% 

Some clever somebodies have posted a fun web site called "Bonnie-Ball" at .  Points are awarded according to various behaviors that have some impact on the way the House does its work under the leadership of our President Bonnie Anderson.  Secretary Straub has a commanding lead in points.  I wore our deputation's Hog Hat for my most recent presentation of a resolution -- that's worth 5 runs. 

We passed an important resolution about implementing the Lay Health plan.  It is phased in and has the support of the Episcopal Schools association.  We passed a resolution commending stricter controls for carbon emissions and to encourage our lobbying on behalf of that.  During a resolution endorsing a DREAM Act, a member of the Youth Representation told the story of her father, who was undocumented until an amnesty in the Reagan days allowed him to attain legal status.  He went to MIT where he met her mother.  It was a touching story.   

We voted for the office of Vice President of the House of Deputies.  A great slate.  Lots of good people to choose from.  Byron Rushing, a long-time deputy leader who serves as a legislator in Massachusetts was elected.  

We ended the day thanking the Youth Presence for being here.  Maria Taylor from St. Paul's has been part of the official presence, and I think she's had a great time.  The youth have added a lot to our convention. 



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