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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Psalm 30:5

Legislative Day # 5 Saturday, 06.17.06

It was a fairly slow day on the floor of convention, today, thanks be to Sweet Baby Jesus and all the angels and archangels who sing him to sleep.

Most of the morning was taken up with legislative committee work. My legislative subcommittee met at 7 AM for 30 minutes before the Hearings began at 7:30 – more on that later.

The rest of the morning was taken up by the UTO (United Thank Offering) Eucharist, which featured eucharistic music composed by the Director of Music at All Saints’, Beverly Hills. The setting was commissioned to celebrate the ministry of Frank Griswold and it was lovely.

The psalm setting (124), however, was composed by the Director of Music at Trinity, NYC, and it was dreadful. Perfectly dreadful. I can’t even begin to describe it, but even now, I’m glad not to have to listen to it ever again.

The preacher was Jenny Te Paa, from Auckland, New Zealand. She is the only indigenous lay woman to be appointed head of a Theological College in the Anglican Communion. As an academic, her sermon was more a lecture – a rather long lecture. She is also one of the authors of The Windsor Report. My take away line from her sermon was, “We need to stop allowing sophistry masquerading as timeless theology to rule our church.”

That was music to my ears!

I had lunch with about 100 other fans of Geranium Farm, a web site for the work of the Rev’d Barbara Crafton, Episcopal priest and author of several books – The Sewing Room, being one of them – Geranium Farm being the latest. It was just delightful.

Back to the legislative sessions at 2 PM which are seriously behind.

It’s been enormously frustrating – what’s that old saying about “watching paint dry”? That would be about our speed of operation. The afternoon legislative session saw the election of a new Vice President of the House of Deputies, the slate for Trustees for General Seminary and Executive Council accepted, and the confirmation of several bishops, including Mark Andrus of California. Michael Barlowe, one of the candidates who ran against him and a priest on diocesan staff in that diocese, was one of his presenters. Lovely.

One bishop confirmation is still hung up in committee – the bishop-elect of Northern California, a twice divorced and three times married man. There’s been quite a controversy swirling around him for that – waged mostly by the orthodox/fundamentalist/evangelicals who, I think, feel compelled to make an example out of him because of the brouhaha they’ve started over homosexuality. The word is that he’ll be confirmed, all right – after a sufficient amount of righteous indignation has been expressed, enough anxiety generated and enough bible passages and verses cited.

The rest of the afternoon and early into the evening was dedicated to a tribute to outgoing President of the House of Deputies, George Werner. I had to leave at 6 PM to attend an Integrity strategy session, and they were only half way through the agenda. (YIKES!).

You will be glad to know that I was in my room at 9 PM. I have just finished a lovely supper, in my P-jamma’s, and a lovely steaming hot cup of tea by my side. I’m planning to be in bed by 10:30 as my day begins at 6:30 AM for the Episcopal Women’s Caucus Breakfast at 7 AM tomorrow.

But, let me go back to the beginning.

My day began with a lovely surprise. Charlie Herrera testified before my committee: Social and Urban Affairs (I sit on the Human Sexuality Subcommittee) on Resolution D047, entitled “Justice, Respect and a Living Wage,” which actively supports the rights of workers to form a union, called for an increase in the support for the passage of ‘living wage,’ and challenged our church to hold its meetings and conventions in union hotels.

Charlie is 16 years old and a member of House of Prayer Episcopal Church in Newark, NJ where I was briefly Priest-in-Charge about 10 years ago. House of Prayer is also less than 2 miles from St. Barnabas where I served for about five years as Vicar of the Church and Executive Director of the AIDS Resource Center, so I’ve seen Charlie grow up.

He was representing the Diocese of Newark which proposed and sponsored the resolution and was the only one there (besides me) who was able to speak to it. I didn’t need to. He was very, very effective.

He presented the information in that almost-but-not-quiet-smartass way that 16 year olds have – the real message hovering just beneath his presentation being: Aw, c’mon! You mean you adults don’t know this stuff and you have to have someone like me break it down for you!

I especially loved it when he said, “We talk about the great work we do as a church – justice for this and justice for that. Who do you think put those pitchers of fresh water on your table? Who put those clean table clothes on your table? Who do you think cleans these carpets after we leave? And these people – many of them immigrants – do not even make minimum wage, much less a ‘living wage.’ C’mon, people. This is your chance to improve the lives of people right here.”

Was this the same scrawny little boy, all fidgety and squirmy, who, as I recall, established a little Sunday ritual of his own? He would race from the church as soon as I had given the dismissal and head directly to the Parish Hall, grab a fistful of cookies and run out into the church yard, his mother chasing right after him yelling, “Charl - eeeeeeeeee!”

Was this the same six year old kid whose mother taught him to speak Spanish (the language of his father), French (the language of his mother), and English, who would look at me dead-on when I tried to engage him in conversation, take a very deep, bored sigh and say, “en francais, s’il vous plait.”

Could it be that this very substantial young man, with broad shoulders and a stubble of hair on his face who used to play with his “hot wheels” under the pews while I preached who was now representing the Diocese of Newark on a major issue of justice?

Indeed, it was. The one and the same.

I was so proud to have walked with this young man, even for just a brief time on his journey, I nearly burst.

It was a wonderful start to a day that had its own challenges, but every day has its own challenges at General Convention. The clerical deputy from Easton sitting next to me said just the other day, just as the afternoon legislative session began, “They say it’s always 2 o’clock in hell.”

I came away remembering a verse from Psalm 30:

“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.”

And, so it was. Thanks be to God.

Elizabeth+ 06.17.06

5 comments:

LoudBrashDramatic said...

Now that is a story! Bravo. I'm here with teenagers. I love when they smack us upside the head like that.

ann drake said...

Elizabeth
I am glad that the new morning came with such a wonderful blessing. As a teacher, we rarely get to see the development of our students after they graduate and move on new things. Charle-eeee! sounds like quite a guy. A memory to be cherished from six to sixteen and more.

Lisa said...

Elizabeth+, I’ve been closely following your blog all thru GC. How glad I am that you have been moved to share your thoughts here!

And I’m doubly grateful to hear that you, too, are a devotee of The Geranium Farm! Barbara+ does a great service to the church with her almost-daily Emos.

Personally, I wouldn’t have any problem with Canon Beissner [sp?] being elected Bishop of Northern California. But I am enjoying watching the Biblical Purists who Love Leviticus wrangle with his election. If they support the election of this thrice-divorced conservative man, they must also admit their opposition to +Robinson has been nothing but sheer hypocrisy. It’s rather fun to watch them do these gymnastics, but I am sorry that good men suffer while these Pharisees play their games. 

And thanks for the story about Charlie. It’s one that we boring middle-class Episcopalians need to hear again and again, and louder and louder!

But now it’s Sunday evening, and the news is all over the blogosphere: Has our church honest-to-GAWD elected a woman as our PB???!!!??? Elizabeth, you MUST talk with us about how it felt to be in the HOD when this election came to you! I’m DYING to hear your take on it! And does not this vote presage how the HOB may vote on the Windsor resolutions?? Sounds to me like the Spirit is blowing a whirlwind thru Columbus!

Thanks for your presence there –
Lisa

Dr Tyler said...

Elizabeth,

Yes, Elizabeth, please do let us know what you think about our new women PB!

What a great story about Charlie. I've been trying to remember if I saw him as a much younger boy when I was last at House of Prayer. That would of been Bernie's funeral. I hope that I can meet him sometime around the Diocese.

Love,
Tyler

Bonnie said...

In my effort to find more information about what's going on at convention, I found your blog tonight, Elizabeth. . . what a beautiful discovery. Thank you for sharing your stories, and I echo my fellow commenters -- please let us know how things have been going since the election of the new PB!