Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday morning and afternoon

Saturday, June 27

Our prayer at our Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music Committee meetings is inspiring. We begin with a chant in harmony which continues as we offer our various intercessions. Then we sing a hymn—today Joyful, Joyful, we adore thee. Wonderful way to start the day, as we began at 7:30.

Our hearing involves a number of resolutions. First, a resolution for a process asking the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to begin to make a plan for the revision of the Book of Common Prayer. A169

The next resolutions are hot buttons:
—C010: "Invite All to Holy Communion"—the so-called "open communion" or "Open Table" resolution. More than any other issues, this one seems to divide us unpredictably. Very meaningful conversations. The resolution calls for a Task Force to study the issue. The resolution also acknowledges that many congregations are already experimenting with an open table.
—C023: an amendment to the Canons to relax the prohibition on communion for the unbaptized, making exceptions for those who are receiving communion with an intent to begin or strengthen a relationship with Christ and eventually to become baptized; and congregations which open communion to the unbaptized must do so as part of an evangelistic plan.

Note to St. Paul's people: The Canons of the Episcopal Church require baptism as a prerequisite for receiving communion. Many years ago I asked Bishop Maze to allow St. Paul's to practice an open welcome to communion largely because we live in a university community where many people who are exploring and seeking do so first by experiencing and then by reflecting on their experience. They are first seekers more than joiners. When they have room to explore, they are more likely to go deeper and to be baptized. He gave us permission to do so, and Bishop Benfield when installed renewed that permission for us. It is interesting to me to note that whenever Suzanne or I ask the members of our Inquirers' classes what it was that drew them into St. Paul's community, the welcome to communion is often the most significant and most repeated factor.

The Diocese of Connecticut has proposed trial use of another question to be added as part of our Baptismal Covenant: "Will you cherish the wondrous works of God, and protect the beauty and integrity of all creation?" Response: "I will with God's help."  C015

D036 is a resolution to add to the Book of Occasional Services the "Rite for Claiming New Name" from our alternative service booklet "Changes: Prayers and Services Honoring Rites of Passage." The name change liturgy is used by people changing their names after a marital change, as part of a monastic community, children taking adoptive names, and transgender persons. Among those testifying was my dear friend Gwen Fry, a transgender priest in Arkansas. She spoke of the day when she and her spouse went to the courthouse for her name change. She wished she could have come to her parish church and her parish priest to celebrate that sacred moment. It was beautiful testimony.

When the House of Deputies reconvened, President Jennings awarded the House of Deputies Medal to several great leaders: Dr. Charles Willie, the first African American President of the HOD. He was the preacher at the ordination of the Philadelphia 11, the first women's ordination. When the House of Bishops invalidated those ordinations, Dr. Willie resigned his office. Also awarded were former HOD Presidents Bonnie Anderson and George Werner, and long-time Deputy Vince Curry. Also awarded (in absentia) were former officers David Collins, Scott Kirby, Brion Prior. We continued with a Happy Birthday party – it is the 230th anniversary of the founding of the House of Deputies in 1785.

Business then resumed. A few blocks away at the cathedral, the House of Bishops was meeting to elect a new Presiding Bishop. Not long before our scheduled recess time (1:15), we received word that the Bishops have an election. Our process requires that a committee from the House of Deputies meet with a deputation from the House of Bishops and bring back a recommendation to accept or decline. When the President suggested we recess for lunch, the House refused, wanting to learn who was elected. We continued to work.

The committee eventually returned with the announcement that Bishop Michael Curry was elected on the first ballot. The house confirmed. We have elected a new Presiding Bishop at 1:52 mountain time.


We waited about 20 minutes for the new Presiding Bishop elect to be escorted to the House of Deputies. He entered with Bishop Jefferts-Schori and to thunderous applause. It was particularly moving to see so many African American deputies so tearfully joyful. Bishop Curry addressed us briefly. A JOYFUL DAY!!

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