Monday, July 13, 2009

General Convention, day 8

Okay, it is beginning to catch up to me. I am staying in my room tonight, even ordered room service. There are no great events to get to, and I am just tired of being social.

Today was a good day overall. In the morning, I listened to the draft of the resolution on same sex blessings that is going to the bishops for consideration. The Liturgy Committee has crafted a carefully worded resolution to suggest that we are not of one mind doing this but that we needed to go ahead and gather resources including liturgies and to present something for next GC to consider. It also gives broad pastoral powers to bishops, especially those in states where there are civil marriage, unions or domestic partnership laws. To be clear, the call for a report to go to next GC was always in the cards because no new liturgy gets authorized outside of that venue. So anyone who thought it was coming from this Convention was mistaken.

The best part of this was that the two committees voted and the bishops were 6-0 in favor and the deputies were 24-1 (I think. I know the 1 is correct). That type of support from the bishops was critical. There is some disputed language in one resolve that will have a minority report from Bp. Parsley of Alabama, but even he is overall in favor of what the committee crafted.

In the morning legislative session, we again took up the cause of Bishop Elect Ruiz of Central Ecuador. Believe it or not, this may actually have been more controversial. I made a refere3nce to it in an earlier post. Complicating things here is that the bishop elect is from Columbia, which is supporting his episcopacy heavily; the Ecuador deputation however is 3-1 against his becoming bishop. Even that is a smokescreen however. The people of the two nations are the same people; it was the Spanish who divided them into two nations, pretty much arbitrarily.

What happened in the diocese is this. The former bishop was totally corrupt, taking the money and running some illegal activities out of the diocese. The Standing Committee had not met in years. When this was discovered, he was deposed and a provisional bishop was sent in 3 years ago to help them put things together. When it came time to try to have an election, a search committee was formed, several candidates were considered, and in the end, none of the final slate were from Ecuador, although there was a process to nominate candidates beyond those of the search committee; no one did.

Then, several candidates dropped out after seeing the mess they would have to work with. It was down to ne, although a second was persuaded to put his name back in. Then, an attempt was made in the search committee to reconsider the election; it failed, but three members (out of 6) dropped off the committee. Provisional Bishop Ramos=-Orench called for the election to be postponed. The convention voted to send it to the House of Bishops to choose someone--any diocese can do that.

The Bishops interviewed the candidates and chose Fr. Ruiz. However, it happened in March, which meant it had to be ratified by General Convention, as any election close to GC does. This is how the Gene Robinson election came to GC 6 years ago. Anyway, there was a lot of emotion, accusations, and mis-information. The deputies were also caught with feeling a bit like colonialism was alive and well in our choosing the bishop of a Latin American diocese; that is not what was happening, of course, but it felt like it.

So we had a voice vote that sounded too close to call. And then the stupid voting machines decided to fail, so we could not vote electronically. So we had to wait until the afternoon.

Then it was off to worship. This is what makes the Anglican Communion great: The preacher was a lay woman, Courtney Cowart, the director of disaster response in the diocese of Louisiana. The celebrant was Prince Singh, the bishop of Rochester (who apparently had a lot to do with the House of Bishops afternoon voting--see below). Singh is from India; he was the first celebrant we have had who sung the Sursum Corda, and he used on in Wonder, Love and Praise that is written out of melodies from Appalachia (the Sanctus is #850 for anyone with WLP handy). And the gospel has been read in a different language of TEC every day. This time it was Chinese (The diocese of Taiwan is part of our province). And we had a children's gospel choir, just to make things interesting.

Lunch with the deputation and then we were back in legislative session for four hours. The machines were working, and we voted bishop elect Ruiz in and gave him a standing ovation when he was brought in. Did I mention I met him Saturday night and had about half and hour with him? He is one of the kindest pastoral souls you will ever meet. I'd take him for a bishop any day.

The afternoon session seemed to get a lot more done than some other sessions. The big item was the Title IV Canon Revision. Title Iv is the disciplinary canon; the last revision was based on the military code of justice! We decided that maybe the church had a different way of doing things, so the new code is fashioned on a model of repentance and reconciliation while still recognizing the need to care for victims.

Someone needs to tell the Canons Committee to get off their high horses. Three or four of them got up and told us not to make changes because they had already perfected it. Um, note to committee, our job is to scrutinize the legislation and decide what we will do with it, including changing things. And, in fact, we found several errors in their words on the various canonical changes that needed to be made to get it write.

We got bogged down right at the end of the afternoon on a different canon change to include gender identity or expression in the list of reasons people cannot automatically be excluded from the ordination (along with race, gender, sexual orientation, age, etc.) It took to the end of the day, and someone called for a vote by orders. I have no doubt it will pass, but we have to wait until tomorrow to find out.

We left and I went over to the young adult closing celebration in the Marriott. As it turned out, word had just come down that the bishops had passed D025, the B033 response. They made a fairly minor change in it, but that means we will get it back again. But it is gonna be passed. So we are saying that we do not exclude any of the baptized from any of the sacraments, but that we also are active in our relationship with the Anglican Communion. I know Integrity already has the new resolve on their website. Their reporter is a member of my congregation going off to seminary in the fall, and he is way on top of things. Good job James.

So now I am in my room. The Black Deputies are meeting about something in a few minutes, but I may not go. Oh look, it is actually after the time they are meeting. Oh well.

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