All posts by kanite

General Convention – Post 2

I apologize for missing a post last night, but had internet issues in the hotel.

Speaking of, the opening legislative session for General Convention 80 started with a whimper as the WiFi in the convention center would not work for most deputies. Everything we do, including elections, runs on an iPad issued to each deputy. So we can’t do much without WiFi. We settled in for some opening remarks and mandatory approval of certain offices which do not require elections and broke early for lunch. 

The afternoon session found the deputies dealing with an enormous consent calendar. Usually this calendar is used for resolutions with little controversy or concerns, things like correcting a word in the canons, and the like. Since GC is so much shorter this year, we were encouraged to put many more resolutions on the consent calendar. In fact the Rules of Order for the House of Deputies (HoD) default to the consent calendar for everything coming out of the various legislative committees, the committee has to vote to change that. The House of Bishops (HoB) do not have this requirement. The Rules allow a resolution to be moved off the consent calendar (if you don’t know, all resolutions on the consent calendar are approved or rejected by a single voice vote). It takes 1/3 vote of the HoD to move a resolution to the legislative calendar and debate it. There is great concern on the HoD that if we do much of that, we won’t have time in this shortened GC to address some pretty important resolutions, so although several resolutions were requested to be moved, only a very few got the 1/3 support.

Debate on several resolutions followed. Most of these were submitted from the Presiding Officers’ Working Group on Truth-Telling, Reckoning and Healing. This article on Episcopal News Services highlights the scope of these resolutions, please read it before you return…..I will wait… .

Thanks! There was great support for most of these resolutions. A125 had some questions about where the funding comes from, but no deputy disagreed with the intent and purposes of the resolution. Again, please read the article to learn more.

A127, submitted by the same Working Group, dealt with truth telling and accurate history of boarding schools for Indigenous children. Several deputies who are Native American testified to the horrors suffered in these schools by themselves or family members. It was quite moving, and to hear how they felt about finally shining a light on this terrible tragedy was inspirational. As noted in the article, the resolution would pledge more than $2.5 million over the next biennium to further The Episcopal Church’s commitment to investigating its role in Indigenous boarding schools; create a fact-finding commission to preserve and to provide a public platform to hear the stories of survivors of any such schools within dioceses’ geographic area; establish Indigenous community-based spiritual healing centers to address intergenerational trauma, and, to create educational resources regarding the church’s role in the schools. But it remains to be seen if this large allocation will fit in the budget which we will debate tomorrow.

The committee on liturgy, prayer book, and music is always quite busy. We dealt with resolution A126 which calls for a review of the BCP and Hymnals with regard to “the colonialist, racist, and white supremacist, imperialistic, nationalistic language and content,” as well as discerning any cultural assumptions they may contain. Testimony on this resolution was also profound. It may surprise you to learn how much of the BCP and Hymnal contain such language and how easy it would be to make some minor adjustments to accomplish this goal. One Deputy who opposed this resolution used the ”prayer for a nation” from the 1928 BCP to, in his mind, support making no changes. That prayer thanks God for ”giving us this land” (a quote from Scripture when Israel was about to enter the Promised Land), a prayer that is offensive to many Indigenous people. Our church has long decried the concepts of Manifest Destiny or the Doctrine of Discovery, it’s high time our language reflected just that.

Day 2 began with a much smaller consent calendar being approved, and then we moved to elections. Highlights – Joe McDaniel, Jr. from our diocese (Central Gulf Coast) easily won election to the Executive Committee. This is a big deal y’all, and Joe has now a 12 year term to continue to make a difference at a high level. We also elected a new President of the House of Deputies, Julia Ayala-Harris. She is a 1st generation Mexican American and amazing gift to our church, she’s been involved at all levels of church governance, and I was delighted she won. She is a lay person from Oklahoma, which means we will elect a clergy person as VP tomorrow.

I am headed back for the afternoon and then evening sessions. All the days at GC are very long, but at least there aren’t as many days as usual. Maybe we’ve learned something from this shortened GC? Time will tell…

General Convention – 1st post

Well, after writing a post earlier and having it lost in the internet ether somewhere, here goes a 2nd attempt.

I arrived in Baltimore for General Convention (GC) 80 late last night, storms in the area delaying our arrival a bit. This is my 6th GC and my 2nd as chair of the deputation from the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. It is an honor to serve in this capacity. While I do have a lot of experience, obviously, at GC, this one will be so different and we are all curious as to how things will work.

Due to the ongoing threat of COVID 19, this GC has been reduced to 4 days, less than half of what we typically have. A lot of work has been done using Zoom and Microsoft Teams as legislative committees have worked on resolutions submitted and assigned to them since January, offering online ”hearings” for any interested parties to attend and comment.

To be honest, I hope this pre-convention committee work does not become the norm. I found it really difficult to attend every meeting, as life and work often would get in the way. When you are physically at GC, you have 100% commitment of time and energy to the work to be done, and while this lends itself to GC being exclusive to those who can afford, in time and money, to attend, I missed not just the opportunity to see and work with people in person, but also the ability to attend meetings and hearings of committees I am not on (I am a member, with Bishop Russell, of the Committee on Governance and Structure – try to stay awake as you read that title). I do not think TEC (The Episcopal Church) did a very good job of promoting hearings on resolutions by the various committees, several times I tried to find when a hearing was taking place (on Zoom) only to be unable to find the information needed. Clicking on a resolution which I knew had hearings coming soon often just displayed ”no meetings scheduled”. I know this is new to everyone and while I hold out hope we do not attempt this same approach at future GCs, if we do we MUST do a better job of advertising to all when hearings are occurring so those interested can ”attend”.

The other possible detriment to this reduced time is that most resolutions will be on the consent calendar, meaning they would be adopted (or rejected) in mass without any debate or discussion. Some of the resolutions we are dealing with are pretty important, involve lots of TEC budget money, make bold statements to the wider church, and change some important aspects of how we ”do” church, and I think many of these are worth the time of the over 800 deputies to discuss and perhaps improve.

That’s enough rant for now. I am headed to registration. Many thanks to Dwight Babcock, our diocesan administrator, for securing us rooms in the Hilton, which is adjacent via SkyWalk to the convention center, AND, more importantly, basically next door to Camden Yards, the Orioles ballpark. Some of us are attending the game tonight and I cannot wait! I have been to Camden once before, with 35 youth from the coast of Mississippi (seems like eons ago, they are all in their 20s and 30s now!) and next to Wrigley Field, it is my favorite MLB park. Go O’s!

Please comment if you have any questions or comments regarding GC, I would love to hear from you!

On a personal note…..

I feel the need to write a note to y’all regarding our situation post-covid, and the impact it continues to have on Jennifer (especially) and myself. In particular, I need the good folks of St. Simon’s to understand how that impact affects Jennifer being able to interact with folks.

As many of you know, Jennifer and I contracted Covid last July, we caught it from someone at her mother’s funeral. We had moderate cases, she ran fever about a week and had some respiratory issues, I ran fever for 12 consecutive days before it broke, it was for me far worse than any flu I have had.

Like many people who contracted Covid, Jennifer lost her taste and smell early on. Over the next few months this side effect lingered, then began to lessen some. Unfortunately it shifted in January to Parosmia.

I will let Jennifer explain Parosmia in her own words:

For some victims of Covid at the beginning of the illness find all our olfactory senses, connections, the entire “smell” system, is damaged and not working at all, hence zero taste and smell. As we begin to heal, we begin to rewire, swollen nerve endings begin to heal and our system begins to work again, but only partially as we heal. This is the Parosmia. This partial function causes us to only smell dominant parts of things like coffee. Here’s an excerpt from the BBC article explaining this theory: ‘One theory about the origin of the horrible smells experienced by people living with the condition is that they are only sensing some of the volatile compounds that a substance contains, and that these smell worse in isolation. Their intensity could even be boosted. For example, coffee contains sulphur compounds that smell good in combination with all the other molecules that give coffee its rounded and pleasant aroma, but not so good when smelled alone.’ I’m guessing this also explains the fluctuations in taste and smell since substances contain different concentration levels, and as we heal, the different levels of molecular compounds are being sensed by our healing and ever changing olfactory receptors. This results in ever changing perception of our progress, or lack of.  I think it’s just a matter of time before things heal and level out so that we return to smelling 100% of a  substances molecular makeup, not just the dominant ingredients.

Parosmia has been known to the medical community, as it can be a side effect of chemotherapy or traumatic brain injuries as well. When Jennifer encounters things like coffee (it is the WORST, She cannot be in the house if someone brews it or even drinks it out of a cup), any meats being cooked, and a whole assortment of other foods and objects, her olfactory system translates those odors into, what she describes, as the “Covid smell”. They all smell the same, some just more intense than others. For Jennifer she says it smells like rotting flesh left out in the sun outside of a paper mill factory.

This side effect of Covid is another great reason for people to be vaccinated – it’s not just about the chance you may die, there are many other awful consequences from this disease. It has meant we cannot eat inside most restaurants, are unable to socialize whenever food is involved, keeps us out of movie theaters (popcorn ya know), and we are constantly experimenting with foods that do not impact her too much. It is ever changing as well – for instance for a good while she could eat hot dogs but now they are a hard no.

I have said all this not to ask for pity, but to both ask for prayers and patience. Last Sunday we had our first big lunch at St. Simon’s since March of last year, a celebration with so much good food and people so grateful to gather again. But Jennifer was unable to participate and it broke her heart. She wants you all to know she loves you and hopes to be able to join in all the activities soon. We appreciate your prayers.

Searching for words

The following is what I shared with my parish in our weekly Epistle:

Beloved in Christ

It may be hard to imagine, but there are actually times in my life as a minister of the Gospel where I just don’t know what to say. Witnessing the events from Wednesday at our nation’s capital has brought me to that place again. I am sure you know what I mean. That sickening feeling, that “can this really be happening” moment when your brain tries to convince you this is not possibly real. I know I cannot stay stuck there, but honestly it is hard not to.

And then I remember my ordination vows, which include these words:

As a priest, it will be your task to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to fashion your life in accordance with its precepts. You are to love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor. You are to preach, to declare God’s forgiveness to penitent sinners, to pronounce God’s blessing…In all that you do, you are to nourish Christ’s people from the riches of his grace and strengthen them to glorify God in this life and in the life to come.

“Strengthen them to glorify God in this life and in the life to come.”

I said yes to those vows almost 20 years ago. I am certain I have fallen short in fulfilling them on many occasions. For this occasion, I am asking God, just how do I do this? And God responds, “you already know the answer. You can’t, except through me. It’s time to pray.”

So, I am calling us to pray. Pray fervently, pray often, pray with words and with silence. Let us seek God’s face, God’s will, God’s grace, God’s wisdom, for ourselves and all others, to truly “care alike” for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor; and especially for all those without words. Will you join me? We can start with this prayer from our prayer book. And remember my friends, God loves you and I do too. It’s Epiphany. The light has come.

For the Human Family

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.

Fr. David+

Shortly after writing this and sending it to my parishioners, we received this message from our Bishop, The Rt. Reverend Russell Kendrick. It amazed me how closely connected our thoughts were. Maybe the Holy Spirit is in the midst of this after all? Click the link to read his excellent post: