The only Sunday falling within the dates of convention is, appropriately, less hectic (unless you're on Committee 26 in 2006, but that's another story). The first item on the schedule was a joint Eucharist with General Convention and the ECW Triennial (which always meets concurrently, reflecting a bygone era when women were not eligible for election as deputies). This event includes a sort of Grand UTO Ingathering, and all the bishops vest and process in together, so there's a lot of eye candy.
That said, I chose not to attend! Instead, I sprang for a nine-mile cab ride to the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in nearby Placentia. I needed a break from the General Convention bubble, and I've known the rector there for a long time. As it turned out, there were probably a dozen or so other attendees who, like me, had temporarily escaped from Anaheim. Blessed Sacrament (as you might infer from its name) is an Anglo-Catholic parish, with a robust liturgical tradition. As the Mass was about to begin, there weren't very many people in the church, and I thought to myself, "Summer Sunday, lots of people on vacation." But they just kep trickling in, and by the time we all stood to sing the Nicene Creed, I looked around and the church was full. And I have to say, they have an over-the-top impressively low median age--lots of babies, children, young families, and young singles. And they don't seem to pander in any way in order to attract such a youthful demographic; the liturgy was Rite Two "with an attitude." All the music was quite traditional, and everybody sang heartily. So much for some of the stereotypes about what churches have to do to attract young people.
Now, the beauties of the electronic age revealed themselves in all their splendor yesterday morning. I mentioned in a Facebook comment that I would be attending Blessed Sacrament. One of my FB "friends," a former parishioner from Stockton, happend to be in Orange County, and Blessed Sacrament is the church they frequent when they're in the area (although they had another place to be yesterday). So, thanks to my iPhone, we were able to stay in touch and I had a delightful rendezvous and lunch with the family, plus they gave me a ride back to Anaheim! Thank-you 3G.
By this time it was 2 PM, so back to business. After a brief meeting with a few Communion Partners rectors for such meager legislative strategizing is available to a marginal minority party, it was on to the floor of the HOD.
The time soon arrived for what they call a "Special Order"--an item deemed sufficiently high-profile as to not be required to wait its turn in the normal work flow, but is escorted to the head of the line. There was special rules for debate. I won't give you the play-by-play, because that is amply available elsewhere from some of the "live blogger" sites. So let me just cut right to the chase and give you my own personal take on what we did.
I voted against the resolution, and was in line to speak against it when the time for debate expired. I can actually support about 95% of it, but the pendultimate Resolved clause it problematic:
Resolved, That the 76th General Convention affirm that God has called and may call such individuals to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, which call is tested through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church;
("Such persons," of cource, refers to partnered GLBT folks.)
The reason this language is problematic is that, in the minds of many, it will be interpreted as "moving beyond" B033, and thus abrogating its effect. In this time of continued strained relationships within the Anglican Communion, we need to avoid throwing gasoline on the embers, and this resolution has that potential.
However, after some conversation last night, and some sleep, I would characterize D025 as "the best of the worst." Yes, it walks right up to the repeal of B033, looks it in the eye and shakes its hand. But it stops short of a full embrace. It affirms that we will follow nothing but our constitution and canons in the discernment of vocation of candidates for ordination (candidates for the episcopate is actually the implied subtext). But B033 doesn't touch on discernment; it calls for restraint in consent to certain elections. This may seem like a small distinction, and it is certainly a subtle one, but I believe it is highly significant. It is precisely the difference between B033, which passed the convention three years ago, and the ill-fated A161, the defeat of which occassioned the necessity of B033. D025 says, "We will follow our own procedures in disernment, and partnered gays will have full access to that process." But it remains mute on B033's call to "show restraint by not consenting." It is not a full-on abrogation of B033. It flirts with doing so, but doesn't pull the trigger. So there you have it.
Along the way, my name was placed in nomination from the floor for election to Executive Council. The words "snowball" and "hell" keep occurring to me, so I'm trying not to get worried.
In the evening, it was my privilege and delight to be part of a three-person roundtable discussion sponsored by The Living Church at a nearby restaurant. The subject was "The Promise of Catholic Communion," and I was assigned to talk about the political dimension of Catholic Anglicanism. It was a stimulating time spent with some very bright people. In due course, I hope to post a written-out version of the notes from which I spoke.