Committee work is finally finished. We discharged a batch of resolutions that were redundant--i.e. their substance already acted on in a prior resolution. We approved one that calls for a plan for revising the Hymnal 1982. This is ill-advised, and I voted against it. Church Publishing just spent a bunch of time and money surveying the stakeholders (clergy and musicians) on this, and concluded that there was not a critical mass of interest in a revision at this time. Plus, I can't begin to imagine how large a volume would have to be the accommodate all the musical variety that people would call for. It's best, in my opinion, to coordinate and make available a variety of downloadable resources. We're past the era of printed hymnals.
The other major item was a proposal to allow local worshiping communities to use the so-called "Rite 3" form for celebrating the Eucharist (pp. 400-405 in the BCP) to be used even at the principal liturgy on Sundays. The rubrics are clear that this is not the intent. I am not without some sympathy with the intent of this resolution. Some "non-standard" worshiping communities may find it useful. But I'm also concerned about a slow slide toward de jure liturgical anarchy (we already have it de facto). Here's where my memory fails me, I'm embarrassed to say. I know we amended the resolution to require that bishops pre-approve the text of any 'homegrown' eucharistic prayer (a rather stringent requirement that precludes extemporization). But I honestly do not recall, as I write during the evening, how we finally disposed of the matter, and the General Convention website doesn't seem to have caught up yet. Oh well. It's late in convention and my brain is fried.
The 11:15-1:00 legislative session is also a bit of blur. To the best of my recollection, we rolled through the consent calendar, and a handful of non-controversial resolutions, and then ran out of work (i.e. the legislative pipeline dried up) around noon. So we bumped out scheduled afternoon executive session into this time, and barred the doors after kicking everybody out. As always when this happens, our focus was on relations within the House, and not substantive legislative concerns.
The long PM session was scheduled for 2:15-6:15, and we used every bit of it, and then some. This included a bit of drama early on, as there was a motion to reconsider yesterday's vote to reject the resolution that would have created a special task force to study the practice of offering Holy Communion to the unbaptized. It failed by a very narrow margin yesterday. But a motion to reconsider requires a two-thirds majority, and it was not sustained.
To my gratification, we adopted, on first reading, the constitutional amendment passed in committee yesterday that I had a hand in authoring, and sent it to the HOD. (By the way, "sending" now happens pretty instantaneously in this very "connected" and relatively paperless convention. This greatly streamlines the flow of work, and lessens the "don't-amend-it-or-it-will-die" crunch in these final days. Lessens, but not eliminates.)
Eventually we got down to the mammoth proposals from TREC (Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church) as processed through the convention Committee on Structure. The first one slashes all the standing commission, save two: Constitution & Canons, and the Standing Commission on Liturgy & Music. I would personally like the SCLM on the chopping block as well, but figured I wouldn't get far by proposing that. Instead, I proposed an amendment that I thought got to the heart of most of my problems with the SCLM: "No standing commission or task force may propose any resolution to General Convention that would have the effect of creating work for itself during the ensuing triennium." I think it was beginning to get lets, but suddenly it was shot down by a bishop whom many revere as a sort of process expert. I don't think he really understood what my amendment was getting at, but his voice is powerful, so my proposal went down in flames. The resolution eventually passed handily. I voted in the affirmative.
The second major component of structural reform had to do with the Executive Council (as the body that prosecutes General Convention's agenda during the three-year interim) and its relationship with the Presiding Bishop and the staff of the DFMS (i.e. "national church"). It got really tense, as there was a rift between the bishops who had served on the committee over whether the Presiding Bishop should have the authority to appoint two key staff members in consultation with the President of the House of Deputies, or whether they must be joint appointments. The form already passed by the House of Deputies makes them joint appointments, but there was a great deal--a very great deal--of passion on the part of all but one of the bishop committee members that it should be the PB's prerogative to fill those positions without approval from the PHOD. We got mired down in procedural motions, and finally voted to sleep on it, and take it up again tomorrow. It will be interesting to see what emerges in the meantime. The anxiety, of course, is over the possibility of the whole thing collapsing if we get into a standoff between the two Houses of convention.