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Archive for the ‘Episcopal General Convention’ Category

Where does the time go! I started several times to write what is happening and each time something comes up that pulls me away from the computer. It has been a very full weekend!  Saturday morning I was at the Liturgy Prayer Book and Music subcommittee hearing at 7:30 am. I had hoped to hear the committee’s discussion of the resolutions our Diocese had sent in that I have already spoken of C041 and C042—which I did, but not until after I heard testimony about the several resolutions that are being suggested for having prayers at the time of and after the death of companion animals.

As you may know, my dog Lucy died about 6 weeks ago and I was completely unprepared for the emotional impact of the testimony about the prayers and place of our pets in our lives. I realized I really haven’t had time to grieve what she meant to me and how much I really miss her. There were three companion dogs who were part of the testimony and I silently wept as their owners spoke. One dog was part of a ministry of a parish in the Los Angeles area that provides training for returned soldier who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan who are suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.

The dogs bring healing to those valiant soldiers and to the parish and those who come in contact with them—That was only one story of course, but having just lost Lucy I can with certainty say how much it would mean to me to have a liturgical way to honor her life and to help me with the grief I am suffering from over her loss. So I hope those resolutions come before convention. The mere fact that these resolutions are being put out for trial use allows us to use them—I have in the past made up prayers for people when their pets die and so it is wonderful to have another resource for those prayers.

After the hearing we had another Public Narrative training, then our legislative session which began to deal with resolutions with some substance—it takes a few days to get to this point because the committees that send resolutions out have to have time to deal with them—hearing testimony and then conferring as a committee about how best to deal with the resolutions—then it has to get on the calendar of the appropriate house (either deputies or bishops) and then finally get to the floor for consideration.

One of the most exciting and difficult resolution we as the House of Deputies have passed is  D025. This resolution deals with a response to B033 which was passed in the waning hours at General Convention 2006.  Newly elected Presiding Bishop Jefferts Shori asked convention to pass this moratorium on the election and consecration of any more gay and or lesbian bishops. The entire Episcopal Church has been faithful to this promise while it has studied, conferred and met with primates, clergy and lay people from around the world since that last day of convention 3 years ago.

A wonderful history of this issue and of the role of our GBTL members was handed out to the deputations and unfortunately I only have it in paper form or I would post it because I think it shows the faithfulness of the church and the struggle we all have with this issue. As one person who spoke rather eloquently said “ it is like being forced to choose between  our Southern Cone brothers and sisters and our GBTL brothers and sisters.” Or another who said it was a sort of Sophie’s choice. 

 The resolution that came out of the Global Mission committee was a true Anglican via media response to this very difficult choice.  They proposed describing a sort of “state of the church” “this is where we are” resolution that is pastoral, kind, truthful and open to possibilities. It is a long resolution with four major resolves: 1) It affirms our commitment to the Anglican communion and our partnership relationships that is back by our money.  2) it recognizes and affirms the ministry and presence of GBTL and the great value these many ministries have to the whole church. 3) It recognizes that good people of deep faith can have a common life in the middle of disagreement about many things.. 4) It affirms that no matter how we think about this subject, Jesus is the center of our church and community.

This resolution passed the House of Deputies by a three to one margin—which is a HUGE margin for such a controversial resolution and it has been sent to the House of Bishops. ….much later in the evening now…and the House of Bishops has passed the resolution with a moderate addition speaking of the mystery of calling of this same resolution. It will be sent back to the Deputies for approval and it will be our new law.

One of the things that has taken much of our time is the consent to the election of a bishop—two of the three bishops that came before us were approved without comment or debate—but the new bishop of Central Ecuador has taken nearly two hours worth of debate. It is apparent that his election was very close and the diocese is divided. The fact that he is not a native of Ecuador seems to be part of the issue. Our task at convention is to affirm that the proper canonical procedures have been followed in elections and not to comment on the character or decision itself. Finally about 60 percent of us agreed with the election for those reasons.

But the new bishop elect will not have an easy time of it! One of the things that happens when a bishop is affirmed is that his or her new Diocese brings them to the floor of the House to be recognized and honored ( with applause of course—which is not allowed  at other times!) When the new bishop from Central Ecuador came forward with his deputation half of it did not come with him—He will have his hands full when he goes to his new place of ministry! I feel heartbroken for the people who did nto want him elected. It is so difficult when there are “winners” and “losers” in church—because the truth is of course that there are no winners and losers. There are only children of God.

We passed a $3.2 Million Hispanic Ministry plan that is brilliant. We have elected  people to the church pension fund, and to the trial court of a bishop, but we will have more ballots because there are still more seats open than have received the number of votes necessary for election (majority plus 1) .

We also passed the consent calendar each day and we have heard guest speakers from New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, Central America and Canada.  And I have left out soooo much but this hopefully gives you a flavor of what it is like to sit on the floor of the house.

Other things that have happened are pretty exciting also. Yesterday my daughter  Emily gave birth to her new daughter ( and my granddaughter  and Ronnie and Warren Diesl’s granddaughter) while I was attending the Episcopal Women’s Caucus breakfast that honored the 20th anniversary of Barbara C Harris’s consecration and the 35th Anniversary of the ordination of the Philadelphia  Eleven.  The significance of synchronicity of those two things seemed to me to be very special –as a woman ordained for 20 years and knowing the fabulous women who have served our church for 35 years I was pretty excited to have my new granddaughter born when the honoring of women who have made a difference in the world was happening!

I hope and pray that she will be her own person and that she too will make her mark as she wants to—and give thanks for the women in the world—and especially the church –who have made it possible for her to have choices about how she serves and what she does.

Imogen Veronica Diesl weighs 8 pounds 5 ounces and is 20 inches long. Her mom says she had dark hair and is wonderful. Her big sister is pretty thrilled to have a sister and her big brother is pretty indifference from the reports I have heard! I can’t wait to meet her! Welcome to the world Imogen!

Saturday night I attended the Episcopal Divinity School dinner. It meant that I could not go to my own seminary gathering which regret but I thought it important to go to the EDS dinner because they were “roasting” Ed Rodman who I have known for over 30 years and whom I admire very much—and because Katherine Ragsdale is the new President and Dean of EDS and she is a friend of mine. I was not disappointed. Bishop Barbara Harris was the chief roaster and she –at one point –laughed so hard she fell on the floor! It was worth the price of admission just to see that! Our bishops were all there and Bishop Tom donned sunglasses (an Ed Rodman signature ) to say some very kind—but funny things –about Ed—or as he called him “Rod.”

The worship on Sunday was wonderful, the preacher on Saturday incredible. The preacher today likewise—I have eaten salmon salad at the Marriott 4 times (and it’s a great salad!) I have barely slept but I have slept like a log when I have! I have seen old friends, met new ones, thought about my public narrative story (that I look forward to sharing with you and hearing yours!) I have prayed and I have been too tired to pray. I have stitched needlepoint. I have listened, I have spoken and I have listened more. This is an amazing thing to be part of and even as we are half way finished, I am astonished at how much we have yet to do and yet it feels like we just got here!

As I sit here writing to you, we are debating the Title IV revisions that are proposed—these canons deal with misconduct of clergy and they are completely revised and while there may be some nit picking points in them and typos  that need to be corrected, the 45 page resolution is very well done. It has passed the House!

We have new voting machines this year. They have broken already twice but when they work –they are fantastic—we get the results immediately—we know how many votes people get and we know by what percentage resolutions pass or fail.

It is Monday and today I had lunch with Joan Butler Ford who is the first woman I met when I started seminary—We met the very first day –in the very first hour—on the to orientation. She is now a retired Canon at the cathedral in San Diego. It was wonderful to see her. Last night at dinner with colleagues from Massachusetts we saw Pat Waddel an Alternate  Deputy from El Camino Real and a man I have known for 30 years. We asked him to join us and he also knew Katherine Ragsdale who was with us –for about 30 years—and we marveled that the church can be so large and so small at the same time.. I have heard often this time that the entire Episcopal Church is probably only 500 people and the rest is smoke and mirrors!

I have heard from Joyce who was with you for the past two weeks and she said that you were wonderful—but of course!  Thank you for being so hospitable.

Tonight I am sitting in my room—I got here at about 9:00 and ordered some room service—which has not yet arrived and hope to be in bed before midnight tonight! What a concept!

Earlier this evening I went to the Camp and conference Center honoring of Bishop Shaw—and the last narrative training.

It has been a very full day!

Good night—Gale+

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Today I am sitting in a huge ballroom with about 500 people listening to speakers talk about two kinds of resolutions that are being considered by the Prayer Book Liturgy and Music committee. The first category of resolutions is about changing the canons from “man and woman” and “wife and husband” to “two adults” and “spouses.” The Diocese of MA had sent two of those resolutions to Convention to be considered. My assignment for convention from our deputation meetings was to speak to these resolutions. The rules of debate adopted here by the committee allowed each of us to only speak to one resolution.  So I chose C041 which would change words “man and woman” to two adults.

I spoke for 2 minutes. I said something like what follows—tho I can’t tell you exactly what I said because I didn’t write it down!  But I spoke using some of the following words:

I read a book in seminary called “Praying Shapes Believing” ( now you all know how old I am!) the author of the book  proposed a thought that was new to me then,  the words we use shape what we actually believe, indeed they can frame our understanding, our possibilities, our reality, and particularly our faith. They can frame these things or they can limit them.

For instance, I was told that “men” used in prayers meant that I was included too—but my experience as a woman would say that wasn’t exactly true. When we use gender limited language we limit possibilities, we limit understanding, we limit faith, we limit the working of the Spirit to open our imaginations. We limit our ability to get “outside the box” our ability to change hearts as our Presiding Bishop Katherine has asked us to be open to doing this convention. 

With this resolution, the Dio of Massachusetts is asking you to allow the church to open us to new possibilities, open our hearts and to understand that perhaps marriage is about a unique and wonderful kind of relationship, not the gender of the folks who engage it, but the quality and depth of mutuality and caring in which they covenant to live.

It has been said more than once at this convention that God is relationship. I believe that marriage allows human beings to live in a relationship that reflects God’s relationship with God’s self. It is an institution that should embody the essence of that godly relationship and therefore not limited by our language or preconceptions of what it can/should look like..

I urge you to put C041 forward that the church might strengthen marriage by emphasizing the nature of it; relationship. May we offer the church this possibility of expanding and opening our hearts.

Thank you.

Already today I have participated in another training for Public Narrative and engaged in worship where Archbishop Rowan Williams was the preacher. I had lunch with Gary Gleason who is now working for the National Church –but whom I knew when I served at the Cathedral in Minneapolis. And its only 3:0 in the afternoon! I will still participate in a legislative session, the Massachusetts Dinner, and at least one or two more public hearings—I am debating between the one of Racism and the one on funding from the Program Budget and Finance. That is the reality of General Convention—making choices all the time – there is way  too many opportunities to listen—to learn to  think –and of course to pray.

The liturgy this morning was lovely. The choir is huge and the music varied, the Bp of Los Angeles was the celebrant and he celebrated in Spanish which I found to be particularly moving. The music used African drums and an incredible gospel singer to lead us.

I realize how much I miss getting to worship—getting to be one who is served communion –(not that I do not love being a priest—I do —and cannot imagine a better life)—but it is a particular gift to pray with so many people and have no responsibility but to participate. In General Conventions of years past we have begun each day in prayer and I admit I miss that beginning to the day. But I also like the training we are getting in Public Narrative and my hope is that I can teach it at Good Shepherd this fall—and that we will all become good at it.

Its now Friday morning and I am finishing this up to send off to you.. Last night was the Dio Mass Dinner at a restaurant called “Roy’s” which is about a 15 minute walk from the hotel .it was nice to NOT eat hotel food or on the run, and it was fun to have about 60 people from MA there to eat and to share their experiences of Convention. (even with 50 there, we were also aware of the many who were still at meetings or hearings!)  At my end of the table, I sat with two of our Alternate Deputies, Rob a priest from Martha’s Vineyard and Helen, a lay woman who really knows communications technology from Falmouth, we also sat with Fredericka Thompsett a retired (or so she says) Church History prof from EDS and Kim, a marketing person from EDS.—and John Gould the husband of Jane Gould, father of Sam Gould who are both deputies.

There is this extended family atmosphere here. I begin my public narrative story with the statement that “I have moved 34 times. And when I come to convention I have the sense that my life comes together here for I am in contact with people from all the places I have lived and worked and been part of the church in. it is like having my whole life in one place and for me that so rarely happens so I am very grateful that the Diocese elected me and that Good Shepherd encourages me to participate.

Until later….

Gale+

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Things are underway—to say the least—and it has been both busy and a time of waiting so far. I have felt like there is much less free time than in years past even though I am still not serving on a committee—but the “off line” offerings have been more and more intense.

I will tell you a bit about what I have done for the past 48 hours to give you a flavor of what I mean. I arrived at the Marriott which is across the street from Disneyland and at the foot of the Anaheim Convention Center. I can see the Convention Center by day and fireworks from Disneyland by night out my hotel room window.

I scoped out the area upon arrival—found the neighboring hotels and no places to eat or buy groceries.  This is unusual for a General convention site—we have been blessed to be in downtown areas previously and this feels way too “hotelish” with hotel after hotel after motel after hotel and that is where most of the eating opportunities are—but it is what it is.  

After most of us had arrived, we gathered to meet as a deputation — as we will most days—to talk about what out assignments are and find out what people are interested in.  I am assigned to watch C042 and C041 which were proposed resolutions of our diocesan convention.  They would change the language of the canons about marriage from “man and woman” to “two adults” and references to husband or wife changed to spouse. 

There are of course many reasons why this is a good idea given the reality that we can have civil ceremonies in Massachusetts for people of the same gender. 

Theologically I also think it makes sense but I do understand that there are those who differ with me. 

 Yesterday afternoon we were introduced to parliamentary procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order with a wonderfully humorous role play over a “test” resolution proposed by “deputy Hanna of Montana”.  The resolution was to have each deputation put a mascot of some sort on their name plate that identifies their home diocese. It was amended to say all deputies must wear a hat or crown or some character on their heads by Friday.  The whole thing was defeated of course, however, it was a humorous way for us all to learn how the House operates—even to the use of the voting machines and I think we probably paid more attention than if we had been given a dry lecture!

We were reminded that we are deputies—not delegates—because we are deputized by our diocese to do the work of the church—not delegated to do so.  The difference of course is that we are, as deputies, to be engaged in the work of convention as it unfolds and to allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and in the mind of convention to move as God directs us.  Delegates would have to represent as certain viewpoint and be unable to be moved by the workings of convention and so we are freer to act in faith as the Spirit moves us than if we were sent to represent a certain stand on certain things.

Last night I sat in on the Liturgy Prayer Book and Music Committee which Chris Ashley and I will follow pretty much the whole convention.  Chris is first Alternate from the lay order.  The discussion was about the proposed Holy Women Holy Men proposed addition to the offerings of the Prayer Book supplements.  This calendar of holy people, who have led lives of ministry or servant hood, is a very thorough document.  

It presents us with many choices and ways of exploring our faith thru the lives of faithful people.  There are some people who didn’t like some one specifically in the book but I hope the mind of the committee will be to pass it as is for testing by the church over the next triennium (3 years) and then weed out the ones that people really do not want to celebrate.  We would use it at good Shepherd for our Wednesday morning service and I think it would be a great addition.  

I also attended the Budget committee hearings on priority setting. The Episcopal Church anticipates at $16M cut in budget because of our current economy and they are trying to model that this means opportunities for ministry in new ways.  People spoke passionately about the ministries they serve or had been impacted in their lives in the past.  We heard many in support of the MDGs (I was proud of us!) and Native American Ministry and Youth.  

But we also heard a few concerned about racism, the poor and relationships with fellow Christians overseas.  I trust that all of these things will be priorities of the budget but that all will not be getting what they have gotten before  and that new ministry with a creative way of doing more than has been done before, provide leadership and leadership training and move away from “the way we have always done it” will be funded.

 Today we opened our House at 9:00—went into worship where the Presiding Bishop, Katherine, spoke of the passage from Ezekiel about a “new heart.”  She encouraged us to open our hearts and then trust our minds will follow as we listen to god’s call to us for this convention.

 The underlying theme for this convention is Ubuntu which is an African term that means ‘I am because you are.“  We were reminded that a person cannot be a person alone—that we are formed and reformed and recreated by our relationships with others.  So everything we are—I am you are—is reflected somehow by our relationships with one another.  

God is community—it is heresy to say god is a single individual –god is and always was and always will be community—Our challenge in our current time and place is to live into the community reality of Ubuntu—we cannot be alone or one without each other.  There can be no salvation of one without the salvation of the other.  Our challenge is to keep asking ourselves how can we be the many.

 I will be pondering this and I hope you will too—feel free to add to the blog your thoughts and if you have any questions I will try to answer them.

 I don’t think will have time to write very day –I am missing a legislative meeting now to write this—and it is a tight schedule, but I will try to keep you posted.

 As I write in my room below a man from the Phelps community is yelling about how sinful the Episcopal Church is and how we are all going to hell for supporting “homosexuals.” The contrast of his words and the words of Ubuntu are particularly poignant to me.

 I have been thinking about us at Good shepherd. It takes all of us and I am praying for us—for each of you—especially for those who have been hospitalized or who are ill and I hope you are praying for us here at convention too.

 Blessings

 Gale+

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The 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church USA is being held in Anaheim, California from July 8 to July 17, 2009.  The General Convention is held every three years and is the governing body of the church and is a bicameral legislature composed of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops carrying out its work on a wide variety of governmental and liturgical issues.  The complete legislative agenda and much detail about the convention can be accessed at the website established for the Convention-  http://episcopalchurch.org/gc/

 

As she has at previous conventions, our Rector, Gale Morris Davis, a full voting deputy in the House of Deputies, will be filing messages frequently to the Good Shepherd congregation about her observations and experiences at the Convention.  Those dispatches will in turn will be posted here and readers’ comments are welcomed!

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