Friday, July 10, 2009

General Convention Journal, Day Four (Thursday)

Apparently, I'm still not acclimated to the time zone because I was wide awake at 5:30 and actually decided to get up. There was an email waiting for me from a BBC radio producer about the possibility of a phone interview on Saturday. We'll see what develops, and I will post details when I have them.

Having opted out of attending any early morning committee meetings, I spent some time drafting the remarks I would make at the afternoon hearing on B0202 (see previous post).

In the runup to the 11:30 Eucharist, I wandered around the convention center area. It's amazing how I run into people I have known, either in past periods of my life, or through my presence in Anglican internet circles. But it just keeps happening, every day, every time I go outside my room, practically.

The space for the daily liturgies is, for me, not particularly conducive to my accustomed eucharistic piety. Some of that is because of the nature of the room (vaster than any cathedral nave in the world) and some if because I don't particularly like "what they've done with the place." But because the Archbishop of Canterbury was scheduled to give the homily, this is not one I wanted to miss. The music was eclectic (and loud), with a decided tilt in the direction of soul/gospel. The liturgy was a straight Rite II (with the exception of a not-quite-trinitarian final blessing), but celebrated in "Spanglish" by the Bishop of Los Angeles (who seems a little fond of catechizing about his idiosyncratic ways).

The picture is a little grainy because it was taken from a great distance and then severely cropped, but there is Rowan Williams himself, giving what by any measure was a sermon, though the program styled it a "meditation" and earlier announcements had said merely that he would be leading the convention in the "bible study." Whatever. It was a sermon, and an excellent one. The homily was prefaced, however, with some remarks that, once they are put through the sort of rhetorical amplifier that comments by Brits usually need to be put through, were quite pointed:
One thing you learn as ABC is that that everything you say is scrutinized. Today will be no exception. But because I do not like hidden agendas and because I believe they are part of a culture of suspicion. I will say two things quickly and directly so that we can reflect on the bible readings given to us today

1. Than you for the invitation to join you and to share my mind with you. Thank you too for your willingness to engage in the wider life of our communion. I realize this has been and is costly for different people in different ways., Some feel compromised, harassed, ungraciously received. I am sorry. This has been hard and will not get easier. But it is something for which we are grateful to you and to God

2. I am coming here with hopes and anxieties. I hope and pray that there will not be decisions in the coming days that will push us further apart. If people elsewhere in the Communion are concerned about this it is because of a profound sense of what TEC can give us world wide. If I felt we could do well without your presence there would not be a problem,. But the bonds of relationship are deep. The words of Paul are helpful here. In the middle of his tension tensions and the way of challenges were for Paul sharper than those we face. He writes: “Why? Because we do not love you. God knows we do.”
(Hat tip to Matt Kennedy for the transcript.)
There can be no doubt about how Archbishop Rowan feels about some key decisions facing this convention. This is a virtual slap upside the head.

After a hurried lunch, I came back to the Hilton for the D020 hearing (see previous post). Then it was time for another legislative session. The first substantive agenda item (after disposing of a dozen or so resolutions considered so non-controversial that they are placed on the "Consent Calendar," and cannot be debated) was supposed to be the election of new members of the Church Pension Fund Board. But there were embarrassing technical difficulties with the voting machines (a device resembling a TV remote at each Deputy's place), so we deferred that item and moved on to the first Committee-of-the-Whole session. After a slightly slanted account of the history of 2006 resolution B033, we were instructed to pair up with another Deputy whom we do not already know and spend 30 minutes sharing and discussing, 1) What is my story of B033? 2) What is the church's story of B033? 3) What is God calling us to do now? My partner was a female ordained Deputy from East Tennessee. We had a nice talk. She's basically in favor of the "inclusion" agenda, but very sensitive to the pastoral difficulties she and others will face back home should the convention push ahead in that direction, and, hence, conflicted within herself.

Bishop Little and Sylvia then hosted the Northern Indiana deputation in their suite for about 90 minutes, as we all shared informally our experience of convention. Then I went out for dinner (tasty Indian food, unfortunate service) with two other Deputies.

One of the developing undercurrents at this convention is a growing sense of friction between the two houses. I encourage you to take a look here for some incisive comments.

2 comments:

Randy Muller said...

Powerful words from the ABC, as usual.

But what if?

What if Katherine Jefferts Schori said this when addressing conservative Episcopalians?

"Thank you too for your willingness to engage in the wider life of this church. I realize this has been and is costly for different people in different ways. Some feel compromised, harassed, ungraciously received. I am sorry. This has been hard and will not get easier. But it is something for which we are grateful to you and to God."

Dan Martins said...

I would LOVE it if Katharine said something like that to conservative Episcopalians. It would be like healing oil.