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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Postcard from the whirlwind

To be quite honest, I'm really not sure what day it is.

I think it's Thursday. Morning. The House of Deputies is in session, plowing through some sixty-plus pieces of legislation left on the docket.

They've done some amazing work in the past few days, including the authorization of the development of liturgical rites of blessing, overwhelmingly approved a difficult and, at times, contentious budget, and unanimously approved a plan to re-image and restructure the church.

There was a bit of drama - what would General Convention be without a bit of drama? - when the deputation from South Carolina read a statement of protest about the blessing of same-gender covenants and all but two walked off the floor.  They left one clerical and one lay deputy to make certain that we all understood that they were not leaving The Episcopal Church.

Le sigh.

We also cooked up some Anglican fudge in terms of The Anglican Covenant. We said "yes" to the Anglican Communion, but I can't tell you how disappointed I am with Resolution B005, substitute.

The language that was finally adopted reads, "that a pastoral response to The Episcopal Church, the General Convention declined to take a position on the Anglican Covenant at this convention".

I understand the politics. Honestly, I do. But, I think the statement is inherently dishonest.

We could have easily said "no" to the Anglican Covenant in the House of Deputies.

I think we could have even released ourselves from being held hostage from a very few purple shirts in the House of Bishops and let our 'yes' be 'yes' and our 'no' be 'no'.

The folks on the legislative committee, however, chose to be careful. I keep hearing a line from the Sondheim play, Into the Woods, "....and I was so careful, I forgot how to care...."

I don't know when "pastoral response" became synonymous with "weak" and borderline duplicity.  We kicked the can down the road on this one, sacrificing a great chunk of our integrity on the altar of expediency.

I can't imagine that our friends around the Communion can't see right through this one.

Given the other acts of courage in which this convention has engaged, this one is an embarrassment.

Le sigh.

Gay Jennings, PHOD
On a happier note, Byron Rushing was elected as the Vice President of the House of Deputies.

The remarkable thing about that was that it was a little more than a 24 hour..... "campaign".... if you can even call it that. No buttons. No flyers. No political speeches. He just put his name in and, a little more than 24 hours later was overwhelmingly elected on the second ballot.

Of course, Byron has a lifetime of experience and relationships which were his "campaign". And, of course, this means that Byron stands in line to become the second African-American PHOD.  How enormously exciting is THAT?

I couldn't be more pleased with our election of Gay Jennings as PHOD and Byron as VPHOD.  I can't imagine the feeling is mutual over at 815.

In the midst of it all, there have been conversations - some passionate and heated, some low key and funny - and intense lobbying and delightful reunions and unexpected, unplanned events. young Trans-man who learned about the impromptu Baptism and Eucharist at the beginning of GC at which I was honored and delighted to preside, asked if he could be baptized.

The Hon. Byron Rushing, VPHOD
We had long conversations together and he got a whirlwind catechesis from other Trans-Episcopal clergy, and, on Wednesday night, just after seminary dinners  and before the Lament of the Doctrine of Discovery, he was baptized at The Integrity Nerve Center in the midst of the Trans-Episcopal Eucharist.

It was lovely and funny and painfully honest and emotional and powerful.

While the rest of the General Convention was talking about new structures, some of us were busy creating new Christians.

I'm inclined to say that these are the new faces of The Episcopal Church, but that wouldn't be exactly correct. These faces have always been here. We are, just now, moving them from the corners and shadows of invisibility and acknowledging and celebrating their presence among us.

We are "making all mean all" in terms of Baptism and Eucharist and full access to the corridors and councils of the church.

It's been a bit like entering into the whirlwind of the Holy Spirit, who breaks down nice, neat, tidy human constructs of race and gender and age and class status and sexual orientation and ethnicity and intellect and physical ability and makes us one.

I suppose that's why I'm not really certain of the day. It's not so much exhaustion and sleep-deprivation as it is the work of the Holy Spirit.

It's today. A new day. A new beginning. The present. A gift.

What a blessing!


Kirkepiscatoid said...

I love it. While we have a whole convention doing the work of the church, and an important one at that, you are in the midst of doing the nitty-gritty of the important work of the church. There's a big lesson in that.

Matthew said...

One of the things that I loved about Louie Crew's web site when he was maintaining it was that his pages listed the vote of every bishop and delegation on every issue for many GC's. I miss that. For these resolutions (anglican covenant, same sex blessings, trans resolution, etc), I would sure like to see a breakdown of how every bishop voted and also every delegation. Is that recorded or archives somewhere. I cannot seem to find it on the GC web site. Matthew

Elaine C. said...

I am trying to remember the name, but wasn't Harvard professor, Charles V. Willie, the first African American President of the House of Deputies? And didn't he resign in PROTEST in 1973 when the ordination of women as priests and bishops was not approved?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Elaine - Dr. Willie was, in fact, first African American VPHOD. Byron is in line to be the first African American PHOD. I think that's what I said. Just checked. Yup, that's what I said.

Pfalz prophet said...

I share your exhaustion and your exhilaration, GC77 was my first, but even at my advanced age(!), won't be my last, God willing.

As to the Anglican Covenant, I think we should rejoice and not lament kicking this can down the road. Let the Covenant die a lonely, forgotten death; we can still claim the Elizabethan Settlement, joining in Eucharist with those of a different mind on such things.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Dear Prophet - I hope you do return to GC. This is my last, TBTG.

You'll have to excuse me for not rejoicing with you. It is never a cause for rejoicing when we kick the can down the road. It's a transparent act of cowardice and embarrassing around the communion.

Michael Hartney said...

Actually Dr. Charles R. Lawrence was the first African American to be President of the House of Deputies. He was President of the House in Denver 1979, New Orleans 1982, and Anaheim 1985.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Matthew - I was in Anaheim in 1985. I should have remembered. My sincere apologies and gratitude. This would make Byron the third VPHOD and stand him in line to be the second PHOD. I will correct the post immediately.

Pfalz prophet said...

Oh, Elizabeth, we must find a time when we can continue the discussion, I enjoyed our time together in the evenings.

I don't regard our decision not to decide on the Covenant as embarrassing, but I can be persuaded to believe we were overly respectful to its advocates. If the Covenant cannot survive on its own merits, as the CofE demonstrated, then can-kicking can be viewed as letting the patient die v. assisted suicide. Let our resolution be its overly-respectful eulogy, we can bury it in 2015.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hello, Love. I also enjoyed our time at Club 329, although I had a hard time staying up past closing hours.

You don't have to be embarrassed by the GC resolution on the AC. I am. If a certain purple-shirted member of that committee is "elevated" to PB, this resolution will be our death knell. Grrrrrrr......