Monthly Archives: July 2012

Ode to Joy

What a wonderful way to start the day. Music is magical, there is no doubt about it.

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The lighter side of #GC77

Things have been rather silent on this blog since the day I arrived in Indianapolis for General Convention. Things got a little too crazy, and a little too hectic to write anything here.  So over the next few days, it is my goal to write some reflections and responses to General Convention.  Since there has been a lot of serious things going around, I thought I would start with the lighter side of General Convention.


First, some diocesan humor.  At each deputation table there is a post with the name of the Diocese on it.  There is a custom to decorate these posts with symbols for your diocese.  I enjoyed what the Diocese of Central New York did. The deputies told me that it had nothing to do with the Yankees and that’s why none of the four hats they used were the classic navy blue.  But, I could still pretend.

The chair of our deputation (RI) got a little more creative.  What follows are three images of our post – each depicting the level or creativity (or boredom depending how you look at it) of those of us form the Ocean State.

Here is what our pole looked like for most of the convention.  Here is Mr. Potato Head riding in a boat enjoying some twizzlers.  A side note about the twizzlers.  Deputy Scott Gunn (RI Clergy Deputy and E.D. of Forward Movement) bought a 4lbs box of Twizzlers and shared them with those of us in RI and the surrounding deputations.  I think I saw something on  his Facebook this morning that makes me think he is now sponsored by the delicious candy.    Back to the task at hand!  Here is why RI had Mr. Potato Head in a boat: 1) A boat because we are the ocean state, and; 2) Mr. Potato Head is made Hasboro Toys which is located in Pawtucket, RI.    The second photo is on Mr. Potato Head on “Dress like Gregory Straub Day.”  Mr. Potato Head got into the spirit and put on his nicest bowtie.  Finally on the last legislative day, Mr. Potato Head was ordained and became Fr. Potato Head.  You may also notice that he is holding a sign that says, “Jesus!”  That’s because he won House of Deputies Bingo!


What is HoD Bingo you ask, it is the a fabulous game created by Committee 99 (Committee on Entertainment and Sanity) Vice Chair and RI Deputy Melody Shobe.  She created a bingo game using the popular words and phrases from the House of Deputies to create a Bingo game.  The rules were simple.  Every time you heard a word or phrase you put a tile down, just like in regular bingo.  There were penalties however, if said they wanted to “amend the amendment” you lost a tile, if some was ruled out of order you had to stop playing for two minutes, and if someone called to divide the question you had to clear your card.  To signify that you got a bingo you had to yell, “JESUS!” in the HoD.  Let me tell you, if you said “Jesus” too loud people got a little upset.  According to one tweeter proclaim Jesus in HoD is a breach of decorum.
The final thing, I’ll share with you is Bonnie Ball.  Bonnie Ball is a play by play game where you get points for various things done in the HoD.  For example play #2, which seemed to be a favorite amongst deputies, is to wear something on your head while speaking.  Play #19 would score you the most points – 15 – and all you had to do was mention Bonnie-Ball while addressing the Chair.  The innagural game of Bonnie Ball was won by Deputy Lowell Grisham Arkansas with 71 points!  Congrats Deputy Grishman, desiringthekingdom wishes you the best of luck in defending your title in Game Two Salt Lake City 2015.
That’s all for now on the lighter side of #GC77.  Looking for more fun and games, go search the backlogs of twitter for #GC77.  Now there was a good time.

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Crazy Christians

Every deputy from the Diocese of RI has been asked to write a reflection on their experience at General Convention. You can read those reflections here. Below is what I have submitted to be published tomorrow.


A few days ago we heard a fabulous sermon by Bishop Michael Curry on being Crazy Christians. This sermon has shaped much of my thoughts and prayers as we progress through this General Convention. Much of what we have been doing in the House of Deputies seems a bit crazy, but not in the spirit filled way that Bishop Curry called us to. I find myself asking myself, “If we adopt this resolution will it help us be Crazy Christians”? Most often that answer is no.

At times I find myself frustrated with what are we doing when it is hard to tell how it will proclaim the Gospel in the world in which we live. I often wonder why we spend so much time on the “apple pie” or “puppies and chocolate” resolutions. Do we really need to spend all this time making ourselves feel better? Yesterday – I think it was yesterday as time seems to have stopped here in Indianapolis – the House of Deputies (HoD) voted against making September Lay Ministry Month. That wasn’t because the HoD hates lay people, but rather because lay people – and clergy – got up and said that lay ministry is important all year long, not just in September. We also voted down a resolution that would, “encourage that in the great fifty days of Easter the people of The Episcopal Church make a commitment to practice the holy habits of weekly worship, prayer, scripture study, tithing, and honing the Sabbath as part of the renewal of baptismal vows”. Again we did not vote this down because we don’t think prayer and other holy habits aren’t important during Eastertide, but rather because we think these things are important during every season of the Church Year. The votes of these resolutions are signs of hope for me. The testimonies of deputies talked about the importance of the ministry of all the baptized and the importance of the holy habits of living at all times. These are the things that Crazy Christians do.

Over these last few days at General Convention we will look at important questions around budget and structure. It is my prayer, and I hope you will join me, that this General Convention can remember that we are called to be Crazy Christians and act from a place of hope, joy, and resurrection.

Earlier today, the Pesident of the House of Deputies called for us to pause our business to sing. The song leader came up and led us in singing Hymn 488 – Be thou my vision

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord;
be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.
High King of heaven, thou heaven’s bright sun,
O grant me its joys after victory is won;
great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.

May those of us gathered in Indianapolis have the vision, wisdom, and joy to do the work we are called to do – to live into our call to be Crazy Christians.

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Pray Without Ceasing

praywithoutceasingThere will be hundreds of resolutions that will come to this General Convention. Some these resolutions will be good resolutions and conversations for GC to have. Others, not so much. There are lots of “puppies and chocolate” resolutions. Then there are some resolutions that speak to – what I think – are the problems of are Church.

As a Church, we are first and foremost a worshiping body. We are called to live out our Baptismal Covenant. We are to pray without ceasing, and reach the Gospel at all times. There is a resolution coming out of Committee 17 – Stewardship and Development titled A089 – Holy Habits and Renewal of Baptismal Vows.

The resolution reads as follows:

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 77th General Convention encourage that in the great fifty days of Easter the people of The Episcopal Church make a commitment to practice the holy habits of weekly worship, prayer, scripture study, tithing, and honing the Sabbath as part of the renewal of baptismal vows; and be it further
Resolved, That the Office of Stewardship, The Episcopal Network for Stewardship, and the Standing Commission on Music and Liturgy develop a readily available liturgical resource that prayerfully invites Episcopalians to embrace the practice of holy habits to nourish and strengthen their vows in living out their baptismal covenant.

This is ridiculous. We should not need to be reminded by a General Convention resolution to pray during Eastertide – we shouldn’t need a reminder to prayer period. What makes us different from country clubs and other social organizations is that we prayer.

Forget the fact that we don’t need the SCLM to take on more work – we have perfectly usable resources in our Prayer Book and by organizations such as Forward Movement.

We are called to continue in the apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of the bread, and in the prayers.

Lets us remember to pray without ceasing always, in Advent, Lent, Easter, Ordinary Time and every other season of the year.

Please pray for the Church that we may remember our true calling – to live into the Gospel, and continually praise our Lord and Savior.

UPDATE – Resolution A089 fails


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Standing up for others

At this General Convention I am not on a committee. While I’d love to serve the convention in this way, there is a great deal of freedom that comes along with not being on a committee. Not being on a committee means that I can travel from committee to committee to listen to hearings and testify to various resolutions. This afternoon I attended the hearing for committee 10 – Social and Urban Affairs. One of the resolutions that was heard was resolution D022 (Churchwide Responce to Bullying). I’ve spent lots of time talking and learning about bullying. In my elementary and middle school days I was bullied and in elementary school I bullied others. What follows is one of the best testimonies that I’ve heard around the importance of the role of the Church in standing up for bullying.

20120706-152946.jpg This is a picture of David testifying in the House of Deputies on the importance of restoring the funding of the Episcopal Youth Event.

Hello. My name is David Karpf and I am a member of the official youth presence and from the Diocese of Connecticut. It comes to no surprise to anyone here that I am gay. I am 16. My freshman year was one of the worst years of my life. I got death threats. People threw rotten fruit at me. Can you imagine walking to spanish class and having someone throw a rotten apple core at you? I tried to kill myself twice. I used to cut. But, church was a safe place. There I could be me. And that’s why D022 is so important. I still fear for my life. I walk down the street and hear insults yelled at me through dark, tinted windows of big SUVs. I am afraid for my life. But, the Church is my home, my safe space. D022 gives others the opportunity to find a safe, welcoming home.

To what David so eloquently said, let the Church say “Amen.”

I want to say a bit about David. I first met David last summer at the Episcopal Youth Event. He and I attended a workshop together, in the conversation during that workshop I was blown away by David’s witness, passion, and articulation. He is a wonderful example of the importance of the ministry of youth in the Church. David has found his voice and I hope all of us will listen to his powerful message.

For many of us the Church is our safe haven. Resolution D022 helps aid those working with youth, young adults, and all people tools they need to minister to those who bully and those who have been bullied.

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Let the fun begin

I’ve been here in Indianapolis since the afternoon of July 3rd. It’s hard to image, with all that happened yesterday, today is the first official day of General Convention. The day kicks off with a legislative session from 8-9am with mostly organization stuff going on.

Yesterday was a crazy day. Seeing old friends and making new ones. Attending meetings, orientations, hearings, and a screening of Out of the Box and Love Free or Die. Yesterday I was most grateful for fellow RI deputies who went out to dinner and brought me some for after the Double Feature screening.

It’s an awe inspiring thing to be part of this Convention, and part of the Out of the Box project. What a privilege to share my story with so many and to work with such amazing folks.

Thanks Susan Russell for the photo.

I’m so thankful for this important work and all my colleagues. But I find myself struggling with a balance of the expectations of others and what I feel called to be doing. My God be with us all as we discern how call is calling us to serve the Church.

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers which we offer before your for all members of you holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Pray for us as the fun begins!

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Thoughts from the Air

20120703-131213.jpgThe day has finally come. I’ve boarded my flight – along with most of the RI deputation – and am headed to General Convention. As I sit here and thing of what’s to come I can’t help but think of the choir anthem I sang on Sunday. My parish choir made a special summer appearance for our former choir director’s first Mass (he was ordained a priest on Saturday). For our anthem we sang Draw us in the Spirit’s Tether music by Harold Friedell words by Percy Deamer:

Draw us in the Spirit’s tether; for when humbly, in thy name, two or three are met together, thou art in the midst of them: Alleluya! Alleluya! Touch we now thy garment’s hem. As the faithful used to gather in the name of Christ to sup, then with thanks to God the Father break the bread and bless the cup, Alleluya! Alleluya! So knit thou our friendship up. All our meals and all our living make as sacraments of thee, that by caring, helping, giving, we may true disciples be. Alleluya! Alleluya! We will serve thee faithfully.

It’s one of my favorite anthems. I think it’s the perfect anthem as deputies, bishops, volunteers, staff, and visitors from around The Episcopal Church gather together for this triennial body.

There are many contentious things coming before the two houses at General Convention. The is great tension and anxiety about the budget. Concerns over political resolutions and the work of the Standing Committee of Liturgy and Music. There have been times on the HoB/D (House of Bishops/Deputies) list serve where those actively posting have not been the most Christian – on all sides of every argument. I remember the last General Convention had moments of great prayer and discernment and moments where I thought we were on Capital Hill. I know I am guilty of being a little too snarky and not a forgiving as I could be. The first line of this anthem, ” Draw us in the Spirit’s tether; for when humbly, in thy name, two or three are met together, thou art in the midst of them: Alleluya! Alleluya!” is a wonderful line to hold in prayer as we gather. No matter how difficult and challenging things get on the floor of the house we have been called into the presence of God, and the Holy Spirit is clearly working amongst us. How else could this convention function if it weren’t for the Spirit.

Deamer’s word also remind us that we are knit together in fellowship and friendship. “So knit thou our friendship up.” Over the years, I’ve heard many folks talk about the big family reunion that is General Convention. I know there are certainly folks I’m looking forward to seeing whom I haven’t seen for three years. This also speaks, at least for me, that we are all on the same team. We are all trying to discern what is best for the Church we love so much. That there shouldn’t be winners and losers. We’ll see how well I listen to my own advice over the next 10+ days.

Finally we are called to be the Church. We are not a governmental body know matter how much governance and politicing we actually do. “All our meals and all our living makes as sacraments of thee, that by caring, helping, giving we may true disciples be. Alleluya! Alleluya! We will serve thee faithfully.” Those of us gathered in Indianapolis have a remarkable opportunity to be the Church in the world. The way we treat one another, the way we treat the employees of the restaurants, hotels, and the convention center where we will gather. Everything we do – “all our meals and all are living” – are outward examples of the God we serve.

It is my hope and prayer that we embark on this 77th General Convention of The Episcopal Church remembering that we are living sacraments of God. May all we do honor God and one another both as we gather and as we go forth. Pray for us!

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