Most of the committees had finished their work before today, but mine met for our full 90 minutes this morning, and then some. I had forgotten that B009 (1979 lectionary), which was voted "Adopt" yesterday by the bishops, needed to come back to committee--more precisely, the deputies on the committee. So I and my colleague bishops had to sit in silence and listen to the debate. There was still strong opposition, which baffles me, but in the end, both sanity and charity prevailed, and the message going to the full HoD will be with a "Concur" recommendation. For this I am grateful.
Then we spend most of the rest of our time considering the resolution on canonically authorized Bible translations. After being passed by the Bishops, the Deputies amended it to include the English Standard Version (ESV), but not without some controversy. Its provenance in the Reformed evangelical tradition makes it suspect to some. Personally, I think it's highly preferable to the NRSV as a text, though I'm not endorsing the notes, introductions, and general critical apparatus. After tortuous parliamentary wrangling, we voted to more the ESV to its own resolution, on which we recommend referral to the SCLM for further study during the coming triennium, and sent the rest of it on to the HoB. Since bishops already have the authority to permit whatever translation they set fit, I'm wondering whether we need to just get rid of any list of "preferred" versions.
Overall, I'm sensing (or maybe I'm just wishing it--I don't know) a bit more grace and charity from the majority toward those who seem to usually be on the losing end of votes. After all, they got their "big one" yesterday, so they can afford to be benevolent. It doesn't cost them anything. I'm already getting the "we're so glad you're still with us" comments, just like I was getting at this point in convention three years ago.
One of the talking points we made in the A049 debate was that, as a result of its passage, the rate at which the Episcopal Church is already losing members would only increase. Indeed, it's already happening. I have a steady trickle of emails, Facebook messages and status updates, and blog comments that testify to the fact that we weren't just blowing smoke when we said that. Makes the heart sad.
The House of Bishops continued to plow through legislation, always with the warning that, when the question is whether to concur with an action already taken by the Deputies, any amendments or substitutes will effectively kill the resolution, because the clock runs out tomorrow. The big ones were the budget, and the omnibus structure resolution that was the fruit of very hard labor in committee and passed unanimously in the House of Deputies. We did the same. And we passed the budget too. (I abstained from the latter out of ethical considerations; my diocese is not paying its proportional share of the DFMS program and is not likely to begin doing so during the coming triennium.) Unfortunately, we couldn't bring that same courage and vision to the question of even allowing the option of the Presiding Bishop remaining in charge of a diocese upon election as Primate. Our refusal to do this will make the work of the structure task force that much more complex.
So it's pretty much all now over but the shouting ... and there isn't even very much of that. I have begun to nourish a fond hope that there might somehow (not at convention, but later) be an informal meeting of those who are driving the majority agenda in TEC with those who are finding themselves a disappearing minority. The question at that meeting would be, "What has to happen for you to declare victory and give it all a rest?" I have grown intensely weary of opposing whatever The Next Big Thing is. So let's just fast forward to the end: What does Mission Accomplished look like? And in that scenario, is there a place for people like me? Not as tokens, or near-strangers, but in a way in which we can maintain our full integrity. I really wish for that.