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.

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