Tuesday, July 14, 2009

General Convention Update

One of the realities of being a more seasoned bishop is that the General Convention demands more of me in terms of committee work and advancing legislation. While this certainly means that I have less free time (an odd concept at the General Convention in all cases), I have the blessing of having greater influence in the leadership and life of the church. This privilege is humbling.

As I expected the budget of the Episcopal Church and resolutions about the place of gay and lesbian persons in the life of our Church are taking precedence. As vice chair of the Stewardship and Development Committee for bishops, I have found myself fully engaged in the former. I am pleased that we have advanced to the House of Deputies what may be the most transformational resolution of this Convention, a resolution on Mission Funding, A061. At a time when the overall budget is being significantly reduced, this will be especially important work. We also moved forward critical legislation on Strategic Planning, passed a critical resolution on Hispanic Ministry, voted for a denominational health care plan, and extended equitable pension benefits to lay persons who work for the church.

Regarding assorted resolutions on the place of gay and lesbian persons in the life of the Episcopal Church, the House of Bishops passed Resolution D025 with minor amendments. This resolution is the subject of much press attention. I supported this resolution as a full expression of where we stand as a Church. It acknowledges that gay and lesbian persons have, and may in the future, be ordained to all orders of the Church.

George Councell, my friend and colleague from New Jersey, remembered the joke, "Do you believe in infant baptism? Believe in it? I've seen it!"

Like George, I too have seen faithful and godly ministry of gay and lesbian persons in all ministries of our church. As a matter of integrity and authenticity, I look forward to celebrating the ministries of all God calls into the life of ordained ministry. Here is the current legislation.

There are those who may be distressed about this as well as future acts of this convention. I pray that our mutual response to this unsettling will be more engagement not less, more conversation not less, more honoring of difference not less.

Friday, July 10, 2009

General Convention Day Three

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church is a combination of Congress and Carnival with a smidge of family reunion thrown in. I can hardly leave my room without running into someone that Iknow who I have not seen for some time. I have seen friends from former dioceses, parishes and seminary. Strangely, they look older than I remember!

As the Convention moves forward, it seems clear that we will be focusing on the budget and how we deal with a challenging economy while moving forward mission priorities. There are tough choices ahead. Indeed, there are also tough choices around the question of the place of gay and lesbian persons in our church. For me the fundamental question is regarding blessing of relationships. The question of ordination is secondary to that. I support and commend for consideration a resolution from our deputies, D043. You can view the resolution on the General Convention website: http://ecusa.anglican.org/gc2009.htm

While some worry about the decline of the Episcopal Church, I think should take comfort in the fact that we still attract protesters. However, I think these folks may be professionals--sort of like paid mourners. Note in the photograph that Chris Bernard, youth minister of St. James-by-the-Sea is engaged in a little Episcopal Evangelism. You go guy!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Off and Running

Even though tomorrow is the official beginning of the 76th General Convention, we are off and running. Our deputation enjoyed dinner together followed by fellowship and conversations about the triennial budget and other pieces of legislation.

Today, we began our committee meetings in the morning. I serve on the Stewardship and Development Committee, which has about fifteen piecese of legislation to consider. The afternoon was taken up with orientation meetings. I am off for a quick dinner and our first committee hearings for Stewardship and Development.

Convention action can be followed on the General Convention website: http://ecusa.anglican.org/gc2009.htm

Monday, July 6, 2009

Heading to General Convention

While the General Convention does not officially begin until Wednesday, I drive up to Anaheim today for committee meetings prior to the convention. I serve on the Stewardship and Development Committee. I am particularly interested in resolutions coming out of this committee and the Evangelism and Domestic Commission, on which I served during this past Triennium.

I hope to give daily updates about the Convention. Also look for updates from our deputies on our website. The theme of this General Convention is UBUNTU: I in you and you in me. Let's pray that we can live into that in an authentic way.