I'm not sure I'm going to know where I am when I get to General Convention in Anaheim.
First of all, the "Men in Black" - the four always grim-looking clerical deputies from the Diocese of Fort Worth - will not be at their station. They were, for me and for many, the 'outward and visible sign' of the line for 'biblical orthodoxy' in sands of The Episcopal Church.
I won't miss their mostly humorless presence or their mean spirit, but it may take me a few minutes to orient myself to the place.
Added to that is this: I just read in a letter from Bishop Mark Lawrence to his diocese that the ubiquitous and peripatetic Kendal Harmon, Canon Theologian for the Diocese of South Carolina, will not be at General Convention.
I'm still trying to get my head wrapped around that reality.
You can find the whole thing here, but this is the "announcement"
Later this summer, just two weeks from today, I will gather with the deputies of the Diocese of South Carolina, and other brothers and sisters in Christ at the 76th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. We will meet from July 8—17th in Anaheim, California. Our beloved retired bishop, Ed Salmon, and I will be representing us in the House of Bishops.
Those representing us in the House of Deputies are: In the clergy order, John Burwell, Steve Wood, Haden McCormick, and David Thurlow: and in the lay order, Wade Logan, Lydia Evans, Boo Pennewill, Reid Boylston, and Lonnie Hamilton (Alternate).
Seasoned observers of General Convention and delegates to our own Diocesan Convention may immediately notice that long time General Convention strategist, Kendall Harmon, while elected to the deputation, is not slated to attend this year’s event.
This will not go unnoticed in many quarters of the House of Deputies and it should not go unexplained to our own diocese.
Well, that's the understatement of the season!
Here's the Bishop's explanation:
In numerous conversations, Kendall and I have felt that the strategizing and networking to pass or defeat resolutions, for most of us in the conservative or reasserting cause, is no longer anything for which we have passion or, for that matter, any hope of success—even if we should attempt it.
The cause of biblical orthodoxy within TEC is no longer a realistic thing to strive for through the councils of TEC. Politically speaking, we have lost the day. Those of us who are going from South Carolina go to bear witness—to speak the truth as we have received it, and with love (as St. Paul enjoins us).
But the days of strategizing with others who may align sympathetically with us to win some political victory through resolutions on the floor of the HOD or HOB is, at least for now, a thing of the past. We are too small and insignificant of a “party.” Too many have been, or have felt, driven out of our Church.
Along with these facts, I fear that the ecclesial-political operatives of General Convention seem too determined to ignore the prevalent teaching of Scripture and the Church, as well as the mind of the larger Communion, but we shall see. I do not state this as one who is disheartened by it. It is just a reality that needs to be recognized and admitted—call it “reality therapy” if you will.
It is my conviction that Kendall’s time and energy can be better directed by working in his new role as Anglican Communion Development Coordinator.
Wait, wait, wait. . . did you catch that?
Not-so-carefully hidden in those last two paragraphs is a very interesting emerging strategy. One might also read it as a 'warning' of sorts, the way a dog begins a low growl when you approach him as he's chewing on his bone.
I'm not going to speculate on what this all means.
Right now, I'm feeling a little sad not to hear Kendall Harmon at the microphone, on the floor of Convention or at the Hearings.
When I was Floor Leader for IntegrityUSA, I always kept one eye on Kendall and the other eye on the caucuses of various deputations - progressive and conservative, all the while watching what was going on during legislative sessions.
On many levels and in a variety of ways, it's going to be an interesting General Convention, but we will be poorer for not having Kendall Harmon there.
The term "worthy opponent" has never been more appropriately applied.
Good luck and God Bless, old chap. Do not doubt for one minute that you will be sorely missed by many on both sides of the aisle.