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

No comments:

Post a Comment