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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Inch by Inch

Moi with Bishops Waynick, Glasspool, Harris and Harris

The UBE (Union of Black Episcopalians) Legendary Tribute and Gala Dinner, celebrating the "35th" Anniversary of Women's Ordination in the Episcopal Church, was held last evening at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown Hotel.

Bishop Gayle Harris (pictured above on right) and I were the co-hosts.

It wasn't exactly the 35th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women. Well, it was and it wasn't, depending on how you count it, and what you count as important.

It's actually the 38th Anniversary - if you count the 11 "irregular" Ordinations that happened at Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia in 1974 which were "regularized" by the church in 1977.

Obviously, I do. So did Bishop Barbara Harris who said to the audience, her gravely voice filled with her own unique brand of sarcasm,  "I flunked every math class in school, but even I know that 2012 minus 1974 is 38."

She should know. Bishop Barbara carried the cross in procession during that historic 1974 ordination service. She was there. 

It was a grand event.  A little like Black Church without the choir and hymn singing. There were speakers who presented the speakers who presented the introduction to the awards who introduced the person to present the award, who introduced the honoree of the award, who gave an acceptance speech.

I don't pretend to understand. I was just there as co-host. Somehow, it all worked together well - although I would have loved me some gospel music in the middle of all that. I understand the event ended around midnight with some dancing to a live band. My loss.

Let me just briefly mention the awards and the honorees. You can find more information here.
The Rev'd Dr. Anna (Pauli) Murray Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award was presented to the Rev'd Altagracia Perez.

The Dr. Anna Julia Haywood Cooper Honors Award was presented to the Rev'd Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas

The Dr Verna Josephine Dozier Honors Award was presented to Canon Bonnie Anderson, D.D.

The Mattie Hopkins Honors Award was presented to Deborah Harmon Hines, Ph.D.
Altagracia Perez
I was deeply moved by the testimonials given to each honoree. They were personal and particular and filled with passion and conviction. Great stuff, that. Caucasian people should pay attention.

That event was followed by the first meeting of the Steering Committee of The Consultation, so I hot-footed it back to the Westin for that gathering and missed the UBE dance - always a great time.

We were done around 11 PM. I met up with a couple of dear friends and we got to talking and the next thing I knew, it was 1:30 and I was just crawling into bed. 

Today has been much, much busier than I anticipated. My day began with The Caucus Legislative Team meeting at 7 AM, then off to the Caucus Booth to check in with the volunteers, then off to the Marriott (I'm at the Westin) at 10:30 for a hearing on A141 - Funding the work of the Council of Episcopal Women's Organizations. 

Kelly Brown-Douglas
I just went to give my support but when I got there, I noted that no one had signed up to give testimony. Indeed, no one from the Commission on the Status of Women was there. The chair of that committee had sent me a text saying that she had been delayed in her arrival, so I didn't expect to see her there - and, in fact, it was the reason I got my sassy self over to the Marriott.

Good thing. I whipped up a statement on my iPad and did ma thang. The resolution passed out of Committee 9 and was sent onto PB&F (Program, Budget &Finance). Yay!

I also listened to some very moving testimony about the effects of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) on Immigration (D018). I marveled as people of various colors who are LGBT gave witness from their own lives and experiences about their struggle to attain citizenship and how that impacted their relationships. That would never have happened a decade ago.

Indigenous peoples and First People also testified about the need for more block grants for evangelism and services in the reservations of the Dakotas and Oklahoma. It was especially poignant testimony on the Fourth of July.

I got back over to the Convention Center in time to check in with a few more things about the Caucus Booth and Consultation Speakers Schedule and then back over to the Westin for a 12:30 Hearing of the PB&F.

Bonnie Anderson
You know, discussions about Structure and Budget have been so white-hot, I went to get a temperature of the body. I wanted to know who was concerned about what and which issue would emerge as the compelling ones.

I remain fascinated by the number of speakers who addressed their concern about Lifelong Christian Formation, Youth Ministry, Campus Ministry and ministry with Young Adults. Good for them. It felt like a sleeping giant had just been rudely awakened. If you're worried about the "future of the church", you best be talking about these issues.

There were also some concerns about funding canonical structures. One example the GBEC (General Board of Examining Chaplains) by canonical requirement, must administer the GOEs (General Ordination Exams). Except, oopsie, both proposed budgets from Executive Council and the Presiding Bishop's Office allocated zero funding for GBEC.

I don't think they can do that. I mean, you can't change the canonical requirements through budgetary process. If you want to do away with the GOEs and the GBEC, then you pass a resolution doing that. I'm not sure what will happen with that particular issue but it's pretty clear that it's not going away quietly into that good night.

After the PB&F Hearing I went and got some lunch.  Here's the cool thing about that: The Westin has given us coupons to be used daily which give you 10% or up to $20 off any of your meals here in the restaurant and lounge. It's a huge help.  I had a great burger and fries for $4.15. Very cool.

Deborah Harmon Hines
Additionally, if you hang a little card on your door before 2 AM requesting no room service, you get a coupon worth $5 to be used at the Starbucks downstairs in the Lobby. So, I figure, every three days or so, I'll have room service and get a free latte. It's a great deal.

After lunch, I had a wee bit of a lie-down before getting ready to head back over to the JW Marriott - an even longer schlepp in oppressive heat and humidity - to testify for C105, the resolution calling for revising the canons to reflect the fact that civil marriage equality is the reality in a significant percentage of our dioceses.

Mercifully, I got a text at 4:30, half hour before the hearing was to begin, telling me that there were a good number of people who were willing to testify and I could take the time off if I wanted. Blessed be! I sincerely appreciated not having to schlepp the 1/2 mile in this heat and humidity.

So, I put my feet up and read a bit - some resolutions, some background information, getting my 'talking points' in order - and then read the paper and got some dinner. 

I passed on Integrity's screening of "Out of the Box" tonight. There are fireworks as I write this. I've gone outside to watch them but didn't last long. It's still hot. There's a breeze but it's like blowing hot air across your body. Thanks, but no thanks. Now that the AC is fixed in my room, I'm very happy to watch the fireworks from NYC on the telly.

Tomorrow is another day. My skates are polished and ready to roll. The day begins with the Caucus Legislative Team meeting at 7 AM then over to the Booth and then Legislative Sessions to follow more resolutions in hearings before the Opening Eucharist at 9:30 AM. There are lots of legislative committee meetings before the first Legislative Session from 4:30 -6:30, followed by a gathering of Caucus members in the Caucus Suite at 7 PM.  Then, it's off to PB&F and other hearings from 7:3-9 and ending the day with a meeting of The Consultation Steering Committee at 10.

Yes, it's insane. You don't have to be crazy to be a General Convention Geek, but it does help.

If I didn't believe it was important, I wouldn't do it. It is. Very. Important. And, I sure am glad this is my last one. I'm already exhausted and we haven't even yet gotten to the first Legislative Session.

One day at a time. Before you know it, it will be the 13th and we'll all be on our way home. The budget may not be the one we want but it will be the one we have to live with for the next three years. The church will continue to inch it's way toward the Realm of God.

Susan Russell reminds us of something Sr. Joan Chittister once said, "We are each called to go through life reclaiming the planet an inch at a time until the Garden of Eden grows green again." 

I worked my inch today. Tomorrow, there will be another inch. And, the next day, another.

Slowly, slowly. Little by little. Reunion by reunion. Meeting by meeting. Hearing by hearing. Resolution by resolution.

The Garden will grow green again.


Ann said...

Thanks for being there and being you.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Miss you, Ann. Really.

SCG said...

Thanks for the play-by-play. Hoping that you survive the heat and humidity and that the Church, indeed, does move inch by inch toward the realm of God... and that extends to all corners.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

SCG. It's still early in the game. Tensions are mounting. Watch for the fireworks.