Friday, July 13, 2012

Once again, the every three-year cycle of the General Convntion of the Episcopal Church has been held. The Convention  met for ten days in Indianapolis, to consider hundreds of resolutions, hear reports from its constituent committees, commissions, agencies and boards, hold hearings, perfect and act on resolutions, elect its leadership and reflect on the policies and that govern Church. The General Convention is composed of the House of Bishops – with 200+ active and retired bishops, and the House of Deputies, composed of over 800 clergy and lay representatives elected from the 110 dioceses of the Church. Our General Convention is reportedly the largest democratic bicameral legislative body in existence and confirms the value of the “discernment” process – the active listening for the Holy Spirit in our democratic and sometimes “messy” democratic procedures.

Some of the matters that came before this Convention:
  • Approved trial use of a rite for the Blessing of same sex unions.
  • Adopted the budget for the triennium – see my personal comments below
  • Elected new leadership in the House of Deputies; consented to the election of election  new bishops – including our Bishop Doug; elected leaders  and several committees, commissions, agencies and boards
  • Unanimous adoption in both houses for the creation of a Task Force to look at restructuring of the Church. (See my personal comments below)
  • Adopted resolutions affecting a variety the governances and policies of the Church including is Baptism a prerequisite to receive communion and is confirmation an eligibility prerequisite to hold lay leadership positions. 
  • Focus on evangelism and Church growth to arrest the decline in membership and attendance
One of the most powerful experiences of General Convention is the corporate worship services. As the average size of our congregations continue to decline, worshiping with thousands other Episcopalians participating in our liturgy and singing/praying familiar hymns in English, Spanish and occasionally French is a reminder of the breadth of our Church.

Allow me two personal comments:

On the budget – we probably did as good a job as current circumstance allow but I am convinced that we have much work to do. If we are to truly rebuild the Church, more of our energies and resources must be directed to local dioceses and congregations. The Diocese of Western Massachusetts has taken a step in that direction. Our Diocesan Council adopted a resolution that our contributions to the churchwide programs should be no more than 15% of our net disposable income; we now contribute 19%. While support for churchwide level programs is important, some fine tuning to the balance is necessary and appropriate. The House of Bishops adopted a “mind of the House” resolution confirming that further discussion/action of this subject needs to happen. See this link:

On the matter of restructuring the Church, the time has come to take a hard look at all structures to determine whether
we have the appropriate systems, structures, and organization to carry our God’s mission for the Episcopal Church. We live in a world that is markedly different from the time when these issues were last examined. Because of much reduced size, we need nimble and flexible if we are to be faithful to our calling.

The celebration of the Eucharist ends with a dismissal:

  • Let’s go forth into the world rejoicing in the power of the Spirit . . .or
  • Go in peace to love and serve the Lord . . . or
  • Let us bless the Lord
The idea is that the end of the Eucharist is really the beginning   . . . as these words are meant to suggest. Similarly, the end of General Convention is the beginning of yet another phase in the life of the Episcopal Church.  Just as the sacrament of Communion renews and strengthen us for service, I pray that the General Convention has prepared us for the days and months of renewal and service that lie ahead.

Del Glover

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Well, we're on the home stretch now in Indianapolis! There are definite signs that deputies are getting tired, but remain committed to doing their best to handle the remaining business. Even your humble respondent was too tired last night to write his blog post then, but he begs your indulgence to receive this blog for Wednesday.

Of course the big item of local news is the joint statement from our Bishop and Bishop-elect concerning same-sex blessings. There were a number of items of some significance taken up on the floor of the House of Deputies on Wednesday. One biggie was the budget. The budget development process is complex and often hurried. The budget that was passed is based on asking diocese to contribute 19% of their income (the formula is slightly more complex, but that's the gist of it). However, our diocese and a number of others have called for 15% and intend to contribute that, so the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church may well have to do some cutting during the next three years (until the next General Convention).

The Deputies also passed a resolution on "open table" (communion of the not yet baptized). This compromise resolution reaffirms baptism before Eucharist as the normative practice of the church while also recognizing the exercise of pastoral sensitivity (intentionally somewhat ambiguous). It remains to be seen what the House of Bishops will do with that resolution, but there were conservative bishops on the committee that crafted the compromise so it /may/ pass.

The Deputies also elected a Vice President of their House for the next three years, Byron Rushing of the Diocese of Massachusetts, also well-known as the Majority Whip in the Massachusetts State House.

We have a long list of resolutions before us today and the House is doing its best to organize the business to proceed effectively.

On the more whimsical side, Wednesday was "Dress like Secretary Straub" day. If you have tracked John Cheek's posts, then you know he is a flamboyant dresser, known for his bow ties and colorful jackets. A number of deputies wore real and improvised bow ties (including a twisted balloon), etc. The Official Youth Presence ended their participation at the end of the day, and were warmly thanked. They had devised a game called Bonnie Ball (Bonnie Anderson is the retiring President of the House of Deputies). One scores points for such things as wearing something strange on one's head while speaking at one of the microphones, for wearing a bow tie, and for working the words Bonnie Ball into their speech. Even the President intentionally scored a few points.

Peace and blessings to you all! Eliot Moss, Clergy Alternate

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From Our Bishop and Bishop-elect

To: Clergy and people of the Diocese of Western Massachusetts
From:  Bishop Gordon P. Scruton and Bishop Elect Douglas J. Fisher

We have been blessed by God's presence at work in our General Convention amid the pressures of many challenges facing our church and world.

It was a great joy to experience Confirmation from the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops of our election of Doug Fisher as our next Bishop.  We are now free to proceed with his Ordination and Consecration on December 1st.  Doug and Betsy will be moving to the Diocese in the middle of September to begin their ministry among us.

At General Convention, our church authorized a provisional rite and accompanying resources for blessing same-sex relationships. As your Bishop and Bishop Elect, we will encourage parishes who chose to do so, to use this provisional rite beginning on the First Sunday of Advent, 2012. Our Church has prayed, debated and sought guidance for this decision for a number of years.  Same gender couples, committed in love, may now be blessed to enter into a life-long covenant of fidelity with one another and the Living God.

In the next several months we will consult with members of our diocese and develop details of a way forward so that clergy and congregations who choose to do so, may help couples celebrate this commitment with soulful discernment and faithful preparation.

We recognize that in most congregations there are people who have been eager for our church to provide a liturgy for same-sex blessings and also some who cannot in conscience support same-gender blessings. The resolution says that "(no person) should be coerced or penalized in any manner...(for) conscientious objection to or support for this resolution."  Our desire is to continue to respect and value the comprehensive diversity of theological perspectives that has been our character as Anglicans, recognizing that none of us and no group among us knows the full mind of God or has the definitive interpretation of Scripture. 

What was truly remarkable about the debate on this resolution in the House of Bishops was that almost all of the conservative bishops who spoke against this decision began by saying how much they appreciated the respect shown for them and their perspective in the resolution and in the process of developing the resolution.  This was a decision reached in the context of respectful, grace-filled relationships and without rancor.

In humility we seek to focus on Christ and let Christ and God's mission hold us together in our differences, as we kneel together to be nourished at God's altar week by week.  In humility we will also seek to maintain close and respectful relationships with those in the Anglican Communion and with our Ecumenical partners who differ from the direction discerned by our General Convention.  May Christ hold us all together and continue to guide us for the sake of God's mission in this generation.

Word(s) on the Floor

Among those present at Convention and offering their prayers for us are those who are members of monastic orders such as the Order of the Holy Cross, the Order of St. Helena and the Society of St. John the Evangelist, among others. As a member of the Fellowship of St. John, I was delighted to see Brothers Mark Brown, Geoffrey Tristam, and Curtis Almquist here in Indianapolis this week.

Curtis handed me a little packet of business-sized laminated cards earlier this week that I have had with me on the floor ever since. Each offers a word, e.g. "peace" or "faith" or "humility" or "joy" and then a short quote from one of the brothers on that word. And then at the bottom of the card, instructions to Pause/Breathe/Meditate/Share.  I have found these brief meditations helpful in keeping me centered and open to God's Spirit, and want to share three of these words in particular, in this context:

God loves to invite us to make journeys. Because through the journey, God teaches us, forms us, invites us to grow and change into the person God longs for us to be.
Br. Geoffrey Tristram

The prayer of thanksgiving frees us from the bondage of our own too-small worlds. It lifts us beyond ourselves and our petty preoccupations. And it does not come naturally to any of us. Rather, paradoxically, like all prayer, thanksgiving is a gift, from God, for us, waiting to be received.
Br. Kevin Hackett

Whenever we bury Jesus, he comes back to life. We can bury him in the Bible or in stained glass windows, in creeds and formulas and the heritage of our own tradition, in movies and plays and music; in our past. We can even bury him in bread and wine. And each time from each place he rises from the dead. He sheds the words and images and walks right on out into the world.
Br. Curtis Almquist     

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Long Productive Day

It has been a long productive and joy filled day.

The day started with Eucharist celebrated in Spanish. The worship at general convention has been truly uplifting - the great question at the end of services has often been - who preached and who were the musicians - unfortunately that information has not been printed in the programs. Rumor has it - it is posted somewhere, I just haven't found it yet.

There was a lot of legislation to come before us today, much of it left from yesterday.

We elected 7 members to Executive Council - the youngest a deputy from the diocese of CT, just 30 years old, Yeah for our church.

We elected a new president of the House of Deputies - Rev. Gay Jennings who will become President at end of this general convention. Tomorrow we will elect the VP.

Here are a few of the resolutions the came before the House of Deputies:

Restructure of the Church which as you can imagine generated much debate and attempts to amend the resolution. After what seemed like an endless time the vote was called and the resolution was passed.  What will happen as a result of this resolution is  a committee will be appointed consisting of a wide range of members from across the church, made up of laity, clergy and Bishops - this committee has an end time to report back to the 78th general convention in 2015.

Anglican Covenant - the resolution that was presented was to say not yet.  The resolution was overwhelmingly passed.

The Bishops joined us for an hour at the start of the afternoon session, for the presentation of the budget.  Check out the general convention web site for the full budget at:
http:\\general The budget will be voted on later this week.

The most joyous vote of the day was at the end of day the vote on Blessings of Same Sex Marriages.   There was a lot of respectful debate - back and forth in favor and against. A motion was made to split the resolution into 2; if either had been defeated it would have sent it all back to the House of Bishops - that motion was voted down and we moved on to vote on the resolution.  A move to vote by order was called - 78% yes in the lay order and 76% yes in the clergy order. Of note is that there was no cheering or clapping - respect for each other.  There were tears of joy in celebration. Thanks Be to God.

Much more work to be done - Your continued prayers are much appreciated.

United Thank Offering Grant for Kumasi, Ghana

Yesterday at the Triennial Meeting I received the "official" grant award certificate for our companion diocese Kumasi, Ghana.  Last December we submitted  a grant application on behalf of Kumasi for solar backup electricity for the Mampong Babies Home. This grant was fully funded for $17,368.00. There are a number of people who collaborated with me to write this grant and I will be writing about this in the future along with some photos from the next mission trip to Ghana in the fall.   Thanks be to God and coins in my UTO box!

How The Sausage Is Made

Some people really prefer not to know how the sausage is made. It dampens their faith. But to me, our polity as Episcopalians - while messy - is a thing to behold.

As mentioned in previous posts, this is my first General Convention. Even so, I went to college in Washington, DC and did an internship after my junior year on Capital Hill, when I still thought I'd be finding my way to a career in politics after college rather than ordained ministry. As has often been noted, there was great overlap between the founders of this nation and of the Episcopal Church so the similarities are striking. I've been a priest now for nearly twenty years. So I have some awareness of all of this coming in.

Even so, there is a steep learning curve and I assume that at least some readers of this blog remain mystified by this process. My aim here is to try to de-mystify it a bit.

At the last General Convention, in Anaheim, the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies (bicameral legislature) asked the Standing Commission on LIturgy and Music to undertake a study and to work on a proposed liturgy for blessing same gender relationships and then to report back to this 77th General Convention in Indianapolis. The Commission did that work and prior to this gathering met with elected lay and clergy deputies in the Provinces this past year to present the results of their work.

Even so, one doesn't arrive and vote. That report became the work of  Legislative Committee 13: Prayerbook, Liturgy, and Church Music. That Committee (like all the other committees) includes both bishops and deputies, clergy and laity. (Among them our own, Meredyth Ward.) They have held open hearings and been working on getting that resolution ready, where it can then go to first to either the House of Bishops or the House of Deputies. As you probably know by now, yesterday that resolution passed overwhelmingly in the House of Bishops, i.e to approve use of these liturgies for those who wish to use them in their particular contexts. (No one is forced to use them!)

Today or tomorrow the House of Deputies will have an opportunity to debate and vote.

I have to say the process is fascinating to me, and the communications challenges and the amount of paper printed are astounding. There are glitches and people being people there are moments when it is clear that some people really do adore the sound of their own voice echoing on the floor of the House of Deputies.

Even so, I have been fascinated at the process of watching the sausage be made. Now I'm sure on some of the nuances my more experienced fellow deputies might offer "amendments" to these remarks and even corrections. ButI think on the basic contours I have it (more or less) right, and that at some level every Episcopalian ought to be aware of how this unfolds.

We are not in a denomination where the Bishops tell us what to do by fiat. We speak with many voices and the people of Western Massachusetts have as much of a voice here as bigger dioceses. (The metaphor that the House of Bishops is like the Senate and the House of Deputies like the House of Representatives is true only up to a point, because unlike the House of Representatives, we have four clergy deputies and four lay deputies from every Diocese in the Church--which give Western Mass as much of a say in how things unfold as the Diocese of Chicago, or New York, or California.)

Whatever happens, whether we rejoice or grieve over any particular piece of legislation, there is reason I think to give thanks for a process like this that gives us the opportunity to discern God's will together.

(Rich Simpson)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Begun and Ended in Worship

Today's service opened with drumming and was celebrated in the Native American languages of Shoshone, Lakota, Dine, Navajo, Mohegan.

During our committee meetings and on the legislative floor the Holy Spirit has truly been at work; there has been respectful listening and changed hearts.

I do have to say that, we have gotten bogged down in making an amendment to a piece of legistlation followed by an amendment to the amendment - and we really have not gotten to the tough stuff. That has been a source of frustration for me. 

The day ended today with the Integrity Eucharist with Mary Glasspool, Bishop of Los Angeles as the celebrant and Gene Robinson as the Preacher.  It was an amazing service with about 2,000 in attendance. 

What a blessed filled day; time for some rest before starting all over again..

Today's Sermon from General Convention

The Rev. Mary Crist of the Diocese of Los Angeles,

“Luke’s gospel today bids us to make this work known. Let it come to light. Celebrate it. Listen to it. In obedience to the gospel of Luke, and in the Native tradition, I share a story of what can happen when we listen.
Shortly after my ordination to priesthood about six months ago, my bishop told me that he was appointing me to serve in a church. I was so excited! This was such good news.
The bad news was that my church had no congregation, no budget, and no salary for the priest.
You see, the congregation at this church had come to the point where as a traditional church it could no longer meet its expenses. This happened even though the former clergy and a few of the faithful had worked very hard and very faithfully. The church in its old form had died.
The faithful few grew a community garden, and it gave life to ministry to the homeless and the hungry.  They sponsored a pow wow with the help of the priest and helped students in a local Native American boarding school. They welcomed new groups to the land.
They listened to the Spirit, and they experienced new resurrection.”

To read the rest of the sermon: The Rev. Mary Crist Sermon

Report from the INC-055 Ad-Hoc Committee on the Study of the United Thank Offering.

On Saturday, July 7th, the Triennial Meeting received a report from the INC-055 Ad-Hoc Committee on the Study of the United Thank Offering.  The Committee, appointed by the Presiding Bishop in 2008, worked with the United Thank Offering Committee ( Now Board) over the last triennium to look at the structure and function of the United Thank Offing and its role for the future.  The summary of their work and a new set of bylaws can be found in the 2012 “Blue Book”  on pp 644-668. Or you can read it here:UTO Report
This report will guide all who work with the United Thank Offering and everyone will benefit from reading the portion called “The Theology of Thankfulness.” 

One Bread, One Body

Our bloggiing strategy, as a deputation, was to set up a rota prior to our arrival in Indianapolis and then to invite any additional posts along the way as people felt called to add a perspective. Today is my day in the rotation and as I look ahead at the calendar for the day, I am free from now until the morning Eucharist at 9:30 a.m, but not back to my room again until tonight until after the Integrity Eucharist, which begins at 8:30 p.m.

So my day will be framed by worship. On my own blog, I reflected yesterday about what this contextl means for me as a first-time deputy. I have heard others talk about this in past Conventions but it really is different to experience it first hand. It is not to deny that the Church is, can be, and probably needs to be "political" at times. It is not to deny that human sin affects our best motivations. It is not to deny that we should attempt to redeem and reform human structures to more fully allow for God's Holy Spirit to work.

But it is to say simply this: we are already one Body in Christ, even when we do not act this way. The most important decisions we make will never be unanimous ones, because we are at different places in our journey in Christ and we traveled to where we now are by different paths. We do see things differently, as the buttons people wear at Convention make very clear.

But it's not only the "big issues" which have yet to work their way to the floor:  issues like restructuring, the relationship between font and table, or whose holy unions might be blessed in our churches. Regularly within our own deputation, on resolutions that will not make the headlines of Episcopal News Service (let alone the "secular" media) we vote differently. Because of our bonds of affection for one another, however, we have not yet come to blows over these differences.

We are one Body in Christ, with many members and many perspectives. When the heat gets turned up we sometimes assume our own purest motivations, and the worst of those who differ from us. I believe, though, that it is precisely in such moments - moments when we seek courage to act boldy, in accordance with the light given to us, that we need to most intentionally examine ourselves. And at the same time, see "the other" through the eyes of God's love. In my experience this does not mean we shy away from conflict or difficult decisions: if anything it gives us the confidence to dive in more deeply. But it does mean that when we do so, we ask God to take away the pride and arrogance that can infect our own hearts, so that what we do may be used to build up the Body, even as we honor all of the members.

For me, gathering daily (or even twice in one day) at the one Table gives us the strength and wisdom to do just that, with God's help.

(Rich Simpson)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Guest to Triennial Meeitng

It was a a pleasuere to have both Rebecca Scruton and Janet Coyne as guests at the Trinnial Meeitng on Saturday.

Building Relationships in Indianapolis

We Have reached the mid point of our meeting time in IndianapoliS. I serve on the Communication & Information Technology Committee. This is a real learning curve for me and enjoyable at the same time. There is hope, that after no funding in its many years of being,that this committee to receive funding to make critical improvements to the communication infrastructure so that anyone can get in touch with all who work in the Episcpal church and they with us. It was interesting that there was a significant resolution for us to work on - D019. In short, it called for the formation of a new office, staff and improved ways to get Internet sharing and communication flowing. It also had a hefty demand for we had hearings on this resolution it was suggested that the proposer and the head of communications talk about this issue before we voted. When we reconvened, there was a new relationship formed and understanding that all that was being proposed could be done. There was now need to re-invent the process. It reported on the floor of convention that all that was needed was to get people to talk with one another and to build relationships. Relationship building is critical for us all. It can be a very simple process that leads to a deep and lasting relationship that allows for growth and understanding. It is not very hard to do. It was achieved here!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday Evening Post

I serve on the Deputies Committee on Structure - we're about half way through some proposals to streamline our governance and structure to enhance the mission we're called to do. One resolution reported out of the Committee was also adopted by the Deputies: sell the Episcopal Church Center building at 815 Second Avenue - hopefully as soon as the 78th General Convention in 2015. I trust the Bishop's will concur. This action came as a piece of the restructuring sentiment that is in the air. The open hearing the Structure Committee held two nights ago had 40 people repeatedly call for a Church that is more nimble, Missional and adaptive. The Committee is in the midst of crafting a resolution that captures the hopes and calls from forty dioceses (WMA included) for a Mission-focused structure. We need to find a process to build a structure that better serves a Church grounded in the Five Marks of Mission. I'll be following along with all of you how we do. Go Church Go - discover the Missional movement of the Spirit and Go. - Bill Coyne

"Unified Gift” from the Triennial Meeting

ECW Triennial Meeting  July 7th: each Triennium the Episcopal Church Women give  a “Unified Gift” from the Triennial Meeting; the Diocese of WMA contributed to that gift.  In 2012 the gift will go to Episcopal Relief and Development designated for NetsforLife® . The goal is to purchase 1000 nets at $12 each, and I believe we will meet  or exceed that goal. Today Joy Shigaki, director of the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund, came and talked to the Triennial Meeting delegates about NetsforLife®,  a ministry that started in 2006 in response to the Millennium Developments goals and to date has distributed 8.5 million nets along with on the ground training and evaluation for effectiveness.

Distinguished Women

Rebecca Scruton was recognized as the Distinguished Women from the Diocese of Western Massachusetts today at the Triennial Meeting of the Episcopal Church Women. Thank you Rebecca for your ministry!

Crazy Christians

If you click here you will find a link the website of the Diocese of North Carolina, where you can find the manuscript, audio, and (by the end of today) video of the sermon that we heard the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry preach at this morning's Eucharist commemorating Harriot Beecher Stowe.

It was so great for us, your deputies, to be in the room to hear the Word proclaimed in this powerful way.

Rich Simpson

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 6

July 6th at General Convention
Posted on behalf of Deborah Harmon Hines, at her request

Today for me started with a Legislative Committee.  As a member of the House of Deputioes (HOD) I am co-chair with my House of Bishop (HOB) counterpart, Obispo David Alvarez of Puerto Rico, of the Church Pension Committee. At this convention major issues for Church Pension Committee are related to either the Denominational Health Plan or the Lay Employee Pension Plan, both mandatory.  As a bi-cameral body, this works a lot like congress. This comittee has met six times in three days in addition to daily legislative sessions. Each resolution must have a legislative hearing, discussion and a decision made by the committee to: 1) adopt, 2) amend, 3) reject, or 4) dispatch. Each resolution is sent to either HOD or HOB for action. If the resolution is passes, it is sent to the other house. A resolution must pass in both houses in order to become a part of our governance structure, polity and policies.

After appointment as a HOD chair, extensive training before General Convention and immediately after arrival is required.  Appointment as a legislative committee chair or member generally comes when one has attended a number of General Conventions.  It is a lot of work. It is also very good getting to know your fellow committee members, working together to achieve something for the good of the church.

Today the HOD recognized our Bishop-elect along with seven other new bishops who had cleared the final steps to confirm their elections at General Convention. This may have been one of the largest group of new bishops confirmed at General Convention in a long time.   It was very gratifying to walk up the center aisle of the HOD with Bishop Douglas Fisher, his wife Betsy and the Western Massachusetts deputation.

It is 9:00 pm. I left the hotel at 7:00 am this morning for my committee meeting. I am tired, but feel good that we are working for the greater good of our church, the glory of God and the spread of God's kingdom. I love this work and will sleep well tonight.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Hearing

This photo was taken by Rebecca Scruton just after Doug Fisher's hearing (see previous post for details). In the front, from the left, are Lynn Schmissrauter, our consultant to the search process and chair of the committee on consents, and Margo McMahon, alternate deputy from WMA. In the back, from the left, are Beth Washburn, deputy, Rich Simpson, deputy and Chair of the Search Committee, the Rev. Betsy Fisher, Bishop-elect Doug Fisher, Tanya Wallace, deputy and Chair of the Transition Committee, Meredyth Ward, deputy and President of the Standing Committee, Eliot Moss, alternate deputy, Beth Baldwin, deputy, and Rob Hirschfeld, Bishop Coadjutor-elect of New Hampshire. A fantastic Western Mass crew!

Bishop-elect Fisher

After a long, full day, I am happy to report that our Bishop-elect, Doug Fisher, is well on his way to receiving full consent for his consecration in December. Normally this process would happen through the mail, gathering the consent of Standing Committees from throughout The Episcopal Church. But since his election occurred within 120 days of General Convention, the process is quite different. First there was a hearing at 5:30 yesterday, at which Meredyth Ward, President of the Standing Committee, presented Doug, then Doug told the committee about himself, then Rich Simpson, Chair of the Standing Committee, spoke about the sarch process, I spoke as Chair of the Transition Committee about the walk about and election process, and finally Doug answered questions from the committee. The committee on Consents to the Election of Bishops then voted to recommend adoption of a resolution consenting to his consecration. This afternoon, that resolution made it to the floor of the House of Deputies, and we were able to vote to approve the resolution with Doug and Betsy (and Rob Hirschfeld, whose consent was voted on earlier in the day) looking on. Tomorrow morning we expect that the House of Bishops will approve the resolution, and his consent process will be finished. Then the fun begins! Doug and the other bishops-elect (there are 8, including Doug and Rob) will be seated on the floor of the House of Bishops in a sort of ceremonial welcome. And finally, they will be invited to the floor of the House of Deputies, and we will be able to introduce Doug to the gathered body as our Bishop-elect. Our search consultant, who chairs the committee on consents, calls it the Bishop Parade! It has been wonderful to have Doug and Betsy with us here at General Convention, and we are *this close* to being able go share that Doug has received all the necessary consents for his consecration. Stay tuned!

Impressions of a First Timer

First, to echo what has already been stated here: we have indeed all arrived, in fits and starts. And yes, it is hot here; very hot. But the Convention Center and Hotel are quite cool, maybe even too cool. And everything is connected  by walkways, so we are fine.

And the Opening Eucharist was indeed pretty terrific, as we gathered to remember and give thanks for the life and witness of Walter Rauschenbusch, Washington Gladden, and Jacob Riis. Our Presiding Bishop preached and presided. When I arrived I was on a bus with a bunch of excited Episcopalians; one of them (from Fairfield County, CT) said to me: what I love the most is being at the Eucharist and seeing the breadth and depth of TEC in all of our diversity. Indeed. A marvelous thing to be a part of.

Debbie has reported on her committee hearings and others all are very busy with their own committees. I am glad, as a first-timer, not to be assigned to a committee. It makes the schedule way more manageable and also gives one time to poke around and explore. This morning after our first legislative session and Opening Eucharist I sat in on Meredyth's committee (Prayerbook, Liturgy, and Music). They were not yet to the more controversial stuff but I found the conversation fascinating and cordial. As a parish priest who has faithfully used, and enjoyed using, Holy Women, Holy Men, I could appreciate those who support this expanded repertoire of saints, representing a wider cross section of the life of the Church. I could also understand those who lament the loss of Lent and Easter as seasons primarily focused on Baptism, and wondered if the more crowded saints calendar adversely affects that focus.

Ah, but who to cut? Some said that maybe we could be more focused on those where there is greater clarity about their witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. I get that. I've also liked some of the more "mundane" characters along the way who invite us to re-evaluate our definition of holiness.

All good stuff to ponder among God's holy women and holy men gathered here this week.

(Rich Simpson, C-4)

Opening Eucharist

Beautiful music with organ and brass. Wonderful vocal soloists and anthems. Several thousand present with stirring hymn singing. The PB preached and presided in English and Spanish

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

We are here and it is hot

Evangelism committee met this morning 8 to 12. We had hearings on several resolutions. One dealing with the establishment of mission enterprise zones called for a budget of one million dollars. Dioceses could apply for matching grants up to $20,000. Another called for  campus ministry in community colleges which have a more diverse population than the traditional four year institutions. The most passionate debate occurred in our late afternoon session. The resolution called for the restoration of  $300,000 for EYE an episcopal gathering for young people which was cut from the budget by executive council. According to testimony this was a life changing event for many young people. 

At noon I had a brief lunch and then listened to hearings from Program Budget and Finance. The room could not accommodate the crowd which spilled out in the hallway.

The PB and President of the house of deputies addressed the house in the afternoon.  Following this was orientation to the rules of the house and instructions in the use of our hand held voting devices.

Our Bishop was presented to the Committee for the Consecration of Bishops. The committee recommended the HOD approve the resolution confirming his election. The house should act on this later in the week

Below you see some of our deputies Beth Washburn, Beth Baldwin, Meredyth Ward and Debbie Harmon Hines on the floor of the HOD
The Rev Doctor Gregory Straub, Secretary of HOD known for his daily fashion statements. This one an homage to our host city
Program Budget and Finance hearings

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Arriving in Indianapolis

For most of the deputation, today was arrival day. One by one or two by two we've been finding our way from the airport to the hotel. A complication that I experienced was discovering that there are two Marriott hotels in downtown Indianapolis. I went to the wrong one. Fortunately, it was only a block or so away from where I belonged. Unfortunately, Indianapolis is in the midst of a heat wave--walking a block and a half at 98 degrees while dragging luggage is somehow farther than it looks on a map! Getting oriented and dealing with registration was first on the agenda after checking into the hotel. Each of us receives a loose leaf binder, three inches thick, which will be filled with reports and legislation by the end of Convention. Some of us had meetings today, but most committees get started tomorrow. My first meeting of the Prayer book, Liturgy and Church Music committee is at 8 tomorrow morning. After getting my registration materials, I went to look at the exhibits. There are displays from publishers, vestment makers, advocacy organizations and various church groups. Each of the seminaries has a booth, and most of them seem to be giving out tote bags. The UTO has prayer cards, buttons, and a little blue change purse labeled "my pocket blue box". The Seaman's Church Institute, which does ministry with the crews Of ships coming into port in New York (offering, among other things, warms hats and scarves), is promoting knitting mini watch caps for an awareness campaign about their work. They hope to collect 1200 little caps. You can also buy an icon, a cross made of wood or silver or glass, or you can collect magnets, lanyards, fortune cookies or a chocolate covered pretzel rod (from the Association of Anglican Musicians--they bill them as mini organ pipes). Most of us will wander through the exhibits again, but the work begins in earnest tomorrow. At 6pm tomorrow night, several of us will accompany our bishop-elect to a hearing on his election. Since he was elected within 120 days of General Convention, the Committee on the Election of Bishops will receive evidence of the election and then (we sincerely pray) recommend that the House of Bishops and House of Deputies vote to confirm his election. No doubt tomorrow's blogger will report on the results of that. Each member of the deputation will be offering a snapshot of General Convention. Each day one or more of us will post. Hopefully, I'll figure out how to post photos soon, so you can see the tiny hats and some of the other sights. General Convention is hard work, but also a great joy. We are grateful to be present, to do the work, to offer prayers in community on behalf of the Church, and take part in the work of discernment. On behalf of the deputation, Meredyth Wessman Ward, Clergy Deputy Church of the Epiphany Wilbraham.