Tuesday, June 27, 2006

General Convention Thoughts, Part One

I know, I know. My adoring public has waited anxiously for me to post since leaving for the Episcopal General Convention 2006. I did intend to post during GC, but I was always just too tired! Here are some initial thoughts:
The process is, well, to me, VERY FRUSTRATING! To veterans of GC (this was my 1st time), they just smiled and laughed and nodded, knowingly. It is a legislative process, with committees assigned "legislation" (resolution) to work on, hold hearings on, amend or change or recommend discharge, etc. The committees meet every day, early and late. They debate resolutions assigned to them amongst themselves, and they schedule hearings where anyone can sign up to speak to resolutions. These hearings are posted daily so you can track resolutions you are interested in and be at those committee hearings, speak if you desire, etc.
Our deputation had 7 of 8 deputies assigned to committees, three of them as vice-chairs. We rock! Those of us not on committees were free agents and divided up to follow different resoltuons. I focused on the Evangelism committee and also committee 26, who had the very difficult task of dealing with Windsor Report resolutions.
The committee work is ok, sometimes a struggle but a good way to have different voices heard. It's the House of Deputies floor stuff that drove me insane! When you have over 800 deputies on the floor at once, with a high percentage of large egos, it can get nuts. Obviously there are some people who feel no resolution is worth anything if THEY don't get up to address it. There are others who gleefully wait for their turn at the mic to "move the question" - and thank God for them! I got so tired of debate where people just said the same things over and over and over - look, if your thought has been addressed - KEEP IT TO YOURSELF! The other frustating part was when people would propose amendments that drastically changed resolutions, instead of doing so at committee hearings.
Again, the process is difficult for me. But maybe that's just me.

In addition to that, the other enlightenment was for me to see how much time we spend majoring in the minors. Everyone's pet issue is addressed. Often it's hard to see a connection between one more resolution on global warming and how the Mission of Christ is to be addressed by our church. I missed hearing a lot about Jesus. Instead I heard a lot about Iraq and reperations and environmental waste from Katrina (more on that later) and on and on and on. For instance, the Liturgy and Worship committee had 50 resolutions to deal with. Some of them on some important stuff. Yet on the HoD floor deputies wanted to spend time debating the appropriate date for the feast day of Thurgood Marshall - GO TO THE COMMITTEE MEETING FOLKS and talk about that. Sigh.

The most exciting part of GC was the announcement and then reception of the new Presiding Bishop, The Right Rev. Katherine Jefforts-Schiori. I will have more to say about her election, and the really disappointing behavior of certain bishops in the voting, but for now I can say the Spirit was really alive in the room as the election results were announced and SHOCKED all of us. I don't know her well, or know much about her, so I will withold any judgement of her. Bottom line, she won - and although some intended her election for ill, God, I pray, intends it for good. I heard that line in the Bible.....

More later, friends.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Dave, they are refreshing and much appreciated. I particularly thought your reference to majoring too much in the minors was dead on. And I can't echo your reflections on legislative process enough, especially the bit about keeping quiet if your sentiments have already been expressed. We need more like you in this church.