Tag Archives: Episcopal Church

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!

Morning Prayer 10/12/18

A beautiful, cool morning with all of our thoughts and prayers to those just east of us who are waking up in the middle of a nightmare. Help is coming! Hope will return!

As someone who was on ground zero during and long after Katrina, I can resonate so well with what the victims of Michael must be feeling. Mexico Beach reminds me so much of the stretch from Waveland to Long Beach, literally it is like an atomic bomb hit and destroyed everything as far as you can see. The recovery from such takes years.

Right now the best thing anyone can do is let FEMA and first responders do the search and rescue, help people to shelter, and provide their immediate needs for food, water, etc. With roads impassable, miles of downed power lines, and need for the first responders to have access, volunteers need to wait just a bit before descending on them. And if and when you go, please make sure that a) you are in touch with someone who is coordinating relief and recovery so you have somewhere to go and something to do and b) you are completely self sustaining, including your own water, food, gasoline, tools, etc. This will be a marathon of years. We sustained the volunteer community at Camp Coast Care for four years, which is really remarkable but also speaks to the vastness of the disaster. This looks to be similar. Find people to partner with. I will post such info as soon as I can get it. I know our Bishop is traveling today to the area and I am sure will have updates for us soon as well. Please pray for him and the diocesan staff who will be consumed (rightfully so) with this work for months and months to come.

In my constant prayers are my clergy colleagues in the area. If any of you read this, please know I am here for you in any way you need. Looking to do church Sunday? I can come, if I can get in, in the afternoon and bring everything you need for Eucharist. I am letting Bishop Russell knows this as well and I am sure there are several others who would do the same. It is important to gather what people are there for worship and communion, I can not tell you how important that was to our folks after Katrina took our church and community away.

Keep praying folks. Let the Daily Offices give you a structure and the words of the Psalms especially give you hope. Psalm 126 was the Psalm we kept praying at St. Patrick’s until we moved into our new building. “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, then we were like those who dream. Then our mouths were filled with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy”. For those in the Michael impacted area, it doesn’t feel like this will happen for you. It will. And that day will be glorious.

Praying our way to General Convention

I am hoping you are joining with me in saying one of the Daily Offices, or whatever form of daily prayer you prefer. Clicking on Prayer Instructions on the left will take you to links for various ways you can use online resources to help, if you prefer. The Prayer Blog itself includes the daily cycle of prayer for St. Paul’s in Delray Beach, where I serve as Interim Rector, but I hope others will join with me in daily prayer.

As we approach the 78th General Convention, I hope all Episcopalians will join with the Acts 8 Movement and thousands of others to pray each day leading up to June 25th when convention officially begins. Please see this link and join with us if you can. Praying together is the best way we can all be connected as this important time in our church approaches.

Update from Province IV Synod

I am at Kanuga with a good portion of the deputation from the Diocese of Mississippi. Province IV (consisting of dioceses in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky and Louisiana, although the Diocese of Western Louisiana is in a different Province) of the Episcopal Church meets here every year for Synod, but on GC years it is much more heavily attended. We were told this was the largest Synod gathering ever for the Province. As several folks have commented, there seems to be a new energy and a wonderful spirit of hope, cooperation, and rededication to following Christ and moving more clearly away from the things that have caused conflict in our church and towards mission and growth.

This new attitude was evident in some very real ways. Yesterday, as members of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage, I joined with Joan Geiszler-Ludlam (East Carolina) and Bishop Andrew Waldo (Upper South Carolina) for a two part presentation on the work of our task force. In the afternoon we gave an overview of the work and pointed people to resources, discussed the resolution we submitted to change the marriage canon, and took a few questions. Last night for almost two hours we held a breakout session where we mainly just threw out some questions for the group (of over 70 people) to discuss. While we tried to bring the conversation to focus on marriage, it really was all over the map on issues of human sexuality. It was a very good conversation which bubbled up and flowed where it wanted to go. As a participant noted, it was striking how respectful the conversation was and while some very real concerns were raised, there was no hint of animosity or hard feelings. I think people felt safe expressing themselves and even, perhaps, learning from each other. There is obviously a lot of energy around this topic and I am sure it will occupy much time and attention at GC.

The other two hot topics for #GC78 (the twitter hashtag for General Convention this year) will be the election of a new Presiding Bishop, and the resolutions coming from TREC (Task force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church). I will have more to say on both of those topics soon.

Meanwhile it’s almost time for the Kanuga bugle to call us to breakfast, followed by a morning meeting and a long drive home. More to come…..