Some friends and colleagues of mine joined together to work on a memorial to the 79th General Convention. A memorial is like a petition or an important statement. It is not voted on at Convention, but is referred to the appropriate committee of Convention to guide their deliberations. I’m told a few bishops appreciated our work, so it may be referenced in their deliberations or conversations somehow.
General Convention can become overwhelming and confusing even to the most seasoned participant after few days. Even if bishops and deputies who have come many times are better able to find their way to the right committee, or to follow the flow of business in legislative sessions, after a while, new participants and old begin to show the same sort of stunned demeanor. One learns to treat convention as a sort of river that carries you along, while at the same time watching for those moments when you need to break out of the current in order to address something of significance to you or for which you have specific responsibility.
The progress of technology has in some ways lessened the complications of legislation, while simultaneously making it possible to take more actions on a piece of legislation in the time allotted. Another consequence of the advancement of technology is that General Convention has become less closed to the observations of those Episcopalians and other Christians who are not deputies, but who nonetheless wish to remain informed. Live streaming brings the deliberations of both the Houses of Convention to them, and Twitter and Facebook allow them to converse with one another and with deputies on the floor about what is happening. I believe this evolution is, when taken on the whole, a good thing, and it sometimes yields tangible results.
A recent result of such electronic collaboration is A Memorial to the 79th General Convention regarding liturgical language. This memorial began life as a proposed resolution written primarily by Father J. Wesley Evans, with significant input from the Rev. Dr. Kara Slade. Wesley, Kara, and I are involved in online forums together, and as they worked on their resolution, they sought out those of us who were deputies to determine what we thought of their proposal, and whether any would submit it.
In our discussions we determined that a resolution, given the timing and the other obligations those of us who are deputies had, would be a difficult sell to the House of Deputies. We were also aware that many of the premises in the memorial are considered so basic, and that any revisions to our liturgies, or crafting of new liturgies, would necessarily presuppose them.
I wrote this piece for “Deputy News” the in-house news publication at General Convention. Even though we’ve already voted on the President’s pay, I think the larger point still needs to be made.
The 79th General Convention will be my second as a deputy. My first foray into the inner workings of our denomination’s national structure was prompted by the calls to reimagine the church. I believed, and still believe, that the Episcopal Church is going to have to make some difficult and imaginative decisions if we are not only to survive as a body, but thrive.
While some steps at reform were taken, overall I felt disappointment at the way the effort was received by the deputies in Salt Lake City. Something that began with so much energy, but lacked clear direction, ended with a whimper when the convention decided not to recommission the Task Force, or call together a new one to continue the work of reimagining. There were bright spots—the efforts to fund church plants, parish revitalization, and evangelism stand out in my mind. But a particularly negative aspect of the process seemed to be an unwillingness to take a long hard look at the assumptions that underlie our structures and organization. At best, it seems as though we’ve stumbled into the configuration we now have. At worst, some aspects of our structure seem top heavy and dated.
There are tell-tale signs of we are willing to look:
The folks at the School of Theology booth in the exhibit hall at General Convention caught me for my reaction to the opening Eucharist. I was particularly excited about “The Way of Love,” a new evangelism initiative of The Episcopal Church, in which my friend Carrie Boren Headington participated in the development of. You can see more of the Way of Love materials here.
Sermon for Proper 8 The 6th Sunday after Pentecost Scriptures: Wisdom of Solomon 1:13-15, 2:23-24 • Psalm 30 • 2 Corinthians 8:7-15 • Mark 5:21-43
Remember that my sermons tend to vary somewhat between services, both because I try to keep the 8 AM sermon slightly shorter, and because I preach without a manuscript. Both of these recordings are slightly longer than I usually post because I’m experimenting with keeping the recording of all the readings, and not just the Gospel text, in the recording.
8 AM Service. To go directly to the sermon, start at 7:53.
10:30 AM service. To go directly to the sermon, start at 9:57.
How do we deal with political disagreements with our friends and family? What prompts the strong emotions when we disagree with those close to us? How do we maintain relationships with intense disagreement?
This presentation is intended to lay out some major things in the background of our political disagreements, and then talk about some actions we can take to maintain and strengthen our relationships.
Unfortunately the camera had both a hard time focusing, and a shorter than needed battery charge. Bear with us and we’ll get better at these things.
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The full-length audio (it doesn’t have the question and answer period, however):
Once a year on the first Sunday of Lent, we chant The Great Litany at St. Joseph of Arimathea. It is the oldest piece of liturgy in the English language, and I personally love it. I thought it was particularly appropriate this year: