Monthly Archives: June 2015

Twitter for the Win #Jesus

imageThis afternoon the House of Deputies considered resolution B009: Conducting an Online Digital Evangelism Test.  You can read the current version of the resolution here.  I was the last person to testify to the resolution, and this is what I had to say:

Madame President – I rise in support of this resolution.

The work of evangelism must happen where people are gathering. The largest place where people are gathering is in the digital world. As a way of demonstrating the power of digital evangelism, I want to read a few thoughts from the twitterverse in response to B009

@FrJody: Folks, most newcomers @stjoeshville have connected via social media & web. I’m asking deputies to vote #yesB009 & watch what happens #gc78

@EpiscoDad: Social media has been key in following #GC78 & it can be used for so much more. Msg. of Jesus doesn’t have to stop at church door. #yesB009

@Fr_Pat: thousands of ppl saw an invitation on Facebook & Twitter to my parish’s Christmas services, our ASA is under 100 and growing #yesB009 #gc78

@davidsibley: KEEPING BEING EXTRAVAGANT ON EVANGELISM, CONVENTION! #gc78 #JesusAtGC #JesusEverywhere

@sarahrandallssm: Indeed, if the message of Jesus stops at the church door, it’s pretty pointless!

@neilwillard: “Go ye into all the world, including Twitter, and preach the gospel to every creature, even those on Facebook.” (Mark 16:15) #gc78 #yesb009

@fr_christopher: I’m good with 4th C theology and 16th C liturgy but communications and evangelism have to be 2015. #yesB009 #gc78

You can watch the twitter testimony here, it begins at 3:18:11. Couldn’t figure out how to embed from Live Stream or have it start at a particular place, let me know if anyone know how to do this.

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On Saints and Calendars

imageThis afternoon, the House of Deputies considered resolution A056: Authorize New Liturgical Resources: A Great Cloud of Witnesses; Weekday Eucharistic Propers.  The resolution was amended by RI clerical deputy, The Rev’d Melody Shobe, to clarify the purpose of Great Cloud of Witnesses (formerly known as Holy Women, Holy Men). You can see the original resolution here, and the amended resolution here.  The resolution, as a result of being amended, now goes back to the House of Bishops for consideration.  Below is my testimony in favor of the amended resolution:

Madame President – I rise in support of this amendment

Just under two months ago I finished my first year of Seminary at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. If I learned one thing this past year it is that as Anglicans we are not an either or people, we are a both/and people. This resolution is maintaining our stance and appreciation of the both/and.

For the last two triennia, there has been considerable confusion about our theology of Saints and our Sanctoral Calendar. Through the process of creating Holy Women, Holy Men; now known as The Great Cloud of Witnesses, there has been uncertainty around if this project is just another resource, a sanctoral calendar, or something else all together. This substitute resolution seeks to clarify this confusion using language that SCLM members have used themselves. The work we are considering is a family story – a family history.

I want to second the comments of my fellow deputy who enumerated the ways in which this work does not conform to the guidelines set forth by previous General Conventions, including the 77th General Convention, as to the standards for adding a commemoration to the calendar.

I both commend the work of the SCLM for compiling this family story, this resource for devotion, catechetical instruction, and liturgical use under the appropriate rubric of the Book of Common Prayer. And I commend this substitute resolution as a means of clarifying our sanctoral calendar and our family history.

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Actions that Matter

One of the most common things I have heard about General Convention is, “But, what does that have to do with the people in the pews?  What does it really matter?”  I’ve always come up with some response that seemed to fit the answer but deep down I’ve often wondered the same thing myself.  As we sit for hours and debate resolutions to death, I wonder what this actually has to do with ministry.  While we certainly had moments of frustration in the House of Deputies today, the first action of the day is the action that mattered.

11124604_10152927437336931_7289783764093218504_oAt 7:15 this morning roughly 2000 people gathered outside the convention center for Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence, an even sponsored by Bishops Against Gun Violence.  We were first person testimonies from victims of gun violence and police officers turned preachers.  We went on a mile march, as as we walked through Salt Lake City we sang, “Out of the deep I call unto thee, O Lord.  Consider well the sound of my longing soul.”

This was not the first time I participated in a march like this, but something was different about this march.  Several times along the way I had to stop singing because I was getting chocked up.  So I prayed.  I prayed the petition that we prayed at the beginning of each station:

V. God did not make death

R. Nor does God delight in the death of the living

God did not make death, nor does God delight in the death of the living.  It was a profound, beautiful, and holy experience that concluded with an address from Presiding Bishop-Elect, Michael Curry.

This morning, 2000 people stopped to listen and prayer.  This morning 2000 people got up early when it would have been easier to sleep.  This morning 2000 bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, lay ministers, deputies, volunteers, and members of the local Salt Lake Community got up to say one more life is too many.

This was our first action of the day, and is one of – if not the – most important actions we will take at this 78th General Convention.  We got out of our respective houses where we talk about the issues of gun violence that something has been done and we let our feet speak for us.  God did not make death, nor does God delight in the death of the living.

After the march it was time for worship.  The current Presiding Bishop preached and presided at the Eucharist and gave one of the best sermons I have ever heard her preach.  Her sermon can be summed up in three short sentences, “Talitha, cum.”  Get up, girl, you’re not dead yet.  Jesus might just as well be speaking to this church.”

The Holy Spirit is trying to do something powerful in our midst – helping us witness to the Jesus movement in our particular Anglican way.  The problem is that too many people have come to believe that the Church is dying.  That the Church is in decline and the only way to survive is to be “relevant” or dilute the standards around participation that have defined our worship for centuries.  We have gotten in the way of God’s marvelous action in our Church, and at times n the world around us.  It is far easier to rattle off a list of excuses as to “why the Church is in decline” instead of getting out of the way, putting our own personal agendas aside, and standing up for the Gospel of Jesus.

I think we are starting to wake up.  You can see this in all corners of the Church – the Church is not dying but growing.  I agree with the current Presiding Bishops – Jesus might just as well be speaking to this church when he says, “Talitha, cum” in today’s Gospel.

We are not dead yet.  This morning, with our first action of the day, we got up.

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A Day Unlike Any Other

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If yesterday was not exciting enough, today was another historic day.  This morning the House of Bishops voted and the House of Deputies confirmed the elected of The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry as the 28th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.  Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry is the first Presiding Bishop to be elected on the first ballot, the first African-American Presiding Bishop, and the first Presiding Bishop to graduate from Berkeley Divinity School.  This last first is particularly cool as I am a rising Middler (Second Year Student) at Berkeley Divinity School.

There are so many emotions coursing through my body.  Mostly I am thankful.  Thankful for the movement of the Holy Spirit in the Church, thankful for my time spent with Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry throughout the discernment process, and thankful for sharing in this process.  As I passed members of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (of which I am the lay representative from Province 1) I remarked, “Today’s the day it all pays off.”  And boy, did it pay off!

Berkeley Divinity School’s motto, “In illa quae ultra sunt” means “into the regions beyond.”  In what I’ve heard from Bishop Curry, prior to this election cycle, during this discernment period, and today gives me every confidence that he is the right person in this time to lead The Episcopal Church into the regions beyond.  As I tweeted out, this is a #MandateForJesus.  The Presiding Bishop-Elect is a passionate evangelist for the Jesus Movement and a fervent support of our Anglican way of living into this movement.  We are embarking on a nine year adventure into the regions beyond following, led by Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry who walks proudly in the footsteps of Jesus.

As I rejoice in the election of Bishop Curry, I give great thanks to Bishop Tom Breidenthal – Southern Ohio, Bishop Ian Douglas – Connecticut, and Bishop Dabney Smith – South West Florida.  These three men are incredibly faithful, gifted, and wonderful Bishops who are engaged in profound ministries in their respective dioceses.  I trust that God will continue to bless them and the people of their dioceses in the ministry they share.

IMG_1416While the Bishops were locked in St. Mark’s Cathedral here in Salt Lake City, the House of Deputies celebrated the 230th anniversary of the House.  As part of that we had the opportunity to offer thanks for several past leaders of the House of Deputies.  One person we honored was the Vice President of the House of Deputies form 1973, Dr. Charles Willie.  Dr. Willie preached at the ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven and ultimately resigned as Vice President of the House of Deputies in protest of the decision to recognize the Philadelphia Eleven and the failure to authorize Women’s ordination to the priesthood.

Like I said, today was a day unlike any other.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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Here’s to a Grace Filled Day

As I sat down to write this reflection I had one of those moments, “wait . . . that was this morning?”  I guess that’s to be anticipated for day like this one.  My day began with a legislative committee hearing during which the news broke that SCOTUS made marriage equality the law of the land.  You can read my thoughts on that here or check out this video that I was interviewed for below.

After my morning committee meeting, there was worship, then a joint session of the HoD and HoB to discuss structure.  Deputations were split up to be paired with the deputation of another diocese.  My group from the RI deputation was paired with the Diocese of Southern Virginia.  We were asked to brainstorm 5 things to keep that support mission and 5 things to change that support mission relating to General Convention, Executive Council, Provinces, and Dioceses.  Groups were invited to email or tweet out their responses (tweets can be found with #gcgas – yes they called it #gcgas.  Which is better than #gcsag, I think.)   I thought it was a pretty great conversation and felt some energy.  It may have also been that I was the recorder for our group and had some fun with the tweets. twitter 4twitter 3

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The reality is that, I do not anticipate anything coming from these conversations.  Too much to talk about, with little time, and who knows what the follow up will be like.  It was nice to have some conversation and feel some energy around the structures of the Church.  Hopefully that is a good sign.

After the joint session it was lunch, legislative committee, and a legislative session on the floor of HoD.  There were moments of humor, and moments of frustration.  Things were moving very slowly today, but hopefully that is just because we are settling into our rhythm, and getting used to new voting devices.  What was most frustrating was the fact that the House of Bishops passed resolution A056: Authorize New Liturgical Resources: A Great Cloud of Witnesses; Weekday Eucharist Propers.  Those of you who know me, know that I am not a fan of this project.  More on that tomorrow.  The day ended by going to an evening presentation followed by dinner with one of my fellow RI deputies.  We had a fabulous conversation around substance abuse and the Church.

In the midst of legislative marathons, and the joys and frustrations of the day I had two one on one meals with people I greatly admire and respect.  Sometimes the best part of General Convention are the quiet conversations around a quick bite to eat.  In my experience those moments are some of the most grace filled of all.

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A Pastoral Response to SCOTUS

imageJune 26, 2015 will go down as an historic day in American history. This morning the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 decision, stated that the law of the land was marriage equality. That all people regardless of their biological sex or the biological sex of the person they love are NOT prohibited from the sacred bond and union of marriage. In fact the closing paragraph of the opinion is a more profound statement of the sanctity of marriage than I’ve heard from a vast majority of people within the Church. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right” (Read the full ruling here.) This is an amazing thing and it should be celebrated. I can imagine that this is one of those days that I will never forget.  I will always remember where I was when I heard that marriage equality was the law of the land in all 50 states of this country. This morning between the hour of 7:30-8:30 (MT) I was sitting in conference room 155D in the Salt Lake City Convention Center, Salt Palace for a legislative committee meeting for committee 16, the Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation Committee. We were working on wording and debating a resolution when a committee member announced the news. The committee broke out into applause and moments later the committee next door – the committee on marriage – broke out into a roaring applause and cheers. I was struck by the profoundness of the moment, by the fact that so many people have been fighting for this longer thn I have been alive. I was in a state of shock as part of me thought this would never actually happen. Part of me didn’t believe it was true. For part of me, something didn’t feel right. The committee took a break to celebrate and let the moment sink in before going back to our work. The session ended and following the committee meeting was a celebration of the Holy Eucharist. As the time for the liturgy approached the musician announced that in light of the SCOTUS decision they were changing their preludial music. They invited those gathered for worship to stand, dance, and celebrate in the joy of the morning. That is when it hit me. As, what seemed like the bulk of convention, celebrated and danced I realized that there are those amongst us for whom this is not a joyous day. There are those who are saddened and betrayed by what happened. Justice Scalia begins his dissent by saying, “I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.” It seems to me that it is easy for us to bask in the elation of this day and ignore others – to, as some may see it, rub this in their faces. As a Church we have a responsibility to care for all those in our Church, even those who disagree with the majority. It is my hope and prayer that in the midst of joyous celebration we can hold those who disagree in prayer and recognize that we all still need to welcome each other, to join in prayer, and share in the Blessed Sacrament of our Lord and Savior.  Those in the majority opinion should rejoice in this historic day, but not at the expense of our more conservative brothers and sisters. It also seems to me that we all need a word of caution. We should rejoice and celebrate, but we are fooling ourselves if we think this is over. We only need to look at racial integration and abortion rulings to see a single ruling does not solve the problem. If a single ruling of SCOTUS solved racial integration there would never have been Brown v. Board II or Green v. County School Board of New Kent County. If Roe v. Wade solved the question of abortion we wouldn’t still be fighting for a women’s right to control her own body today. Today’s ruling, however historic it may be, is not the end of the struggle for marriage equality throughout the United States. Governors and judges have vowed to ignore SCOTUS. Political figures have threatened violent and extreme political protest. We may be on the verge of serious and tragic backlash. Most of all I worry that this backlash may be played out in aggression and action against my LGBTQ brothers and sisters in more conservative parts of the country. I worry that those who are angered by this ruling will take that agression out on those feeling the joy of this historic day. My joy this day is accompanied by fear and worry of what is to come. Bottom line, this is an amazing and wonderful day. One I will never forget. It is my hope and prayer that we are responsible in our celebration. Responsible in whatever parties and celebrations take place – particularly in regards to substance abuse. Responsible in caring for those who are angered, hurt, and betrayed by this – those particularly in our Churches. Responsible in responding to whatever backlash results from this radical change in Federal policy. Today is a glorious day.   Let us rejoice, let us be glad, and let us bemindful of the true reality of today’s SCOTUS ruling.

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Less talking. More doing.

Today was the official first day of General Convention (yup all the work that we’ve done thus far and #GC78 hadn’t even started yet).  Today was a day filled with legislative sessions, committee meetings and hearings, worship, scheming, and finding a pretty great sushi lunch.  But the bulk of my day was spent in legislative hearings for the ten resolutions the have been assigned to my legislative committee (Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation  aka Committee 16).  In the morning we heard legislation about the creation of a task force concerning climate change, in the afternoon we heard legislation regarding divestment from fossil fuels, and in the evening we heard the final divestment resolution and the two resolutions on food.

As we were looking at the resolution for the task force and the food resolutions I had a thought – seriously another task force and another resolution commending a particular ministry?!  SERIOUSLY?!

As originally written it seemed that we were just considering the creation of a task force to study pastoral responses to communities facing climate change, and we had a resolution around feeding ministry where the first five resolves were just saying, look how great x ministry is.  My small group even wanted to write another resolution commending the Pope’s recent encyclical – as I said to the group, “What’s the point of that?  What are we hoping to achieve with this other than another resolution saying puppies are cute?”  The bottom line is that I found myself getting frustrated with working on resolution that just say stuff without doing anything.

Resolutions encouraging us to study things ad nauseam or saying “he nice job” or something obvious like “puppies are cute” are not doing us any favors.  Frankly, it wastes time and energy for the General Convention – something we cannot afford to waste. If we want to keep studying or congratulating others – or ourselves – for doing something these resolutions have to include some action items.  We need a both/and requirement for these resolutions.

We need to create a Task Force that does more than jus study, is supports and lifts up the work of actual Episcopalians around the country.  We can’t spend all of our money to pay for travel and meetings, we’ve got to send some back to parishes and diocese to do the work we’ve said is so important.  We can’t just say, “Wait to go Pope Francis,” we need to also say to our House of Bishops, “where is your statement? What pastoral/theological/scientific offering do you have for the Church and the world around us?”  We need to stop talking about the importance of feeding ministries, and just start feeding people.

We can say climate change is bad, people need food, we must care for creation until we are blue in the face, but it will be meaningless if we do not put our money where our collective mouths are.  We can say we think feeding people is important, but that sentiment will be worthless unless we are out in our communities feeding people.

As General Convention continues, I hope and pray we do a little less talking and a little more doing.  Let’s take our theological understanding of the Gospels and the person of Jesus and create structures, initiatives, pass resolutions that show the word we are more than just a social service agency – we are a Church, we are on a mission, we are following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Pray that God may give us the grace and courage to do what we say is so important.

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Time to Meet the Nominees

IMG_1394Today was a pretty epic day for General Convention, while the gavels have not gone down to begin legislative sessions a whole lot happened.

My legislative committee decided not to meet this morning so I received the gift of getting to sleep in until 7AM (seriously that is huge for General Convention)!  After breakfast I made my way to the House of Deputies for a Joint gathering of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops to hear opening remarks form the Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies.  After the opening remarks the Bishops were dismissed and we began our orientation session.

IMG_1389This was basically a two hour tour of our iPad and the virtual binder.  I knew it was going to be a long session when the question was asked, “How many of you have figured out how to open the iPad case and turn the iPad on?”  For some of my fellow deputies I’m sure the session felt like they had been cast out where to the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  At times it was rather painful, but it is important that everyone knows how to use our materials to be able to conduct the business of the house.  The other new technological advance for the House of Deputies.  Our voting devices have been updated and every deputy gets their own voting card.  The card goes into the voting device and it knows exactly who you are.  I’m sure confusion of these devices will ensue as the kinks get worked out over the next couple of sessions.

After concluding this session and lunch, it was time for the presentation of the nominees for Presiding Bishop.  I’ve had the honor and privilege to serve as the lay representative from Province One (New England) on the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop.  We are the committee that produced the slate of nominees.  The presentation was a pretty historic event.  Never before had anything ever been done like this, a “walk about” in a joint session of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies.  Each nominee was asked to produce an introduction video.  Those were played before each nominee came onto the stage.  They made opening statements, responded to a committee crafted question based on their vision statements.  Then we turned to questions submitted from people form across The Episcopal Church.  The four Bishops picks cards out of a bowl called out the color and number and were given their question.  It was a great session and presented the nominees in a way unlike any other.  This session definitely shifted my order of nominees and who I would vote for if I were in the House of Bishops.  It was most interesting to hear what others in the House of Deputies had to say.

After the presentation of the nominees it was time for dinner with some folks from the deputation and it was off to my committee meeting.

We discussed out resolutions, a statement given to us on divestment from Executive Council, and spilt into small groups to discuss resolutions and begin to discern out work with each piece of legislation submitted.  The Food subcommittee had interesting conversation on supporting and encouraging food ministries and very interesting conversation on GMOs.  I’m learning so much and have only begun to realize how much more I have to learn about this area of ministry.   I wonder how many of you have hear of environmental racism before?  I do not think I have ever heard the phrase until today and I’m not totally sure I understand what it means.  Tomorrow we will have hearings on all of our resolutions, I’m really looking forward to being on the other side of the table at a legislative hearing.

Tomorrow we have our opening Eucharist and first legislative session in the House of Deputies.  Tomorrow things get really interesting.

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The Calm Before the Storm

This is my fourth General Convention and one thing has remained consistent over the last nine years – this day always feels a little weird.  It’s the day where things begin, the day that slowly begins to build before this become really busy.  Here’s how today went:

After getting ready and having breakfast here at the hotel, I went with a couple other RI deputies to register.  This IMG_1378process involved waiting in three different lines to be certified, registered, and get my iPad for our virtual binders (I have a feeling I’ll be writing a lot about this little devices throughout the duration).  After waiting in the first two lines, myself and two other deputies took a break from line waiting to walk around the exhibit hall.  It was great to run into friends from around the Church and catch up on which vendors have the best stuff.  After walking around a bit, we got back in line and got our iPads.  A brief stop in the House of Deputies and it was back to the hotel.  A group of us met up for lunch and then it was back to the Convention Center to help another deputy get set up, back to the hotel for a deputation meeting, back to the convention center for legislative committees, and finally out to dinner with a couple of Rhode Islanders.

All things considered, it was a really easy day.  Didn’t need to do a lot, and just got to hang out, walk around, and catch up with folks.  But it all felt weird.  Here we were walking around hanging out, knowing all the work that needs to get done, and we are waiting to start it all.  I think it feels weird because of the anticipation of the days ahead (as obvious as that might be).  The next week and a half will be crazy.  Early mornings, late nights, legislative maneuvering, worship, meetings, and electing a new Presiding Bishop.  It is exciting, energizing, and a little bit nerve-racking.

IMG_1380Today I also got to do something new.  For the first time I am serving on a legislative committee (Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation – Legislative Committee 16).  We are a brand new committee with some wonderful people with amazing experience and passion of this area of ministry.  This area is new to me, and something I haven’t paid particular attention to.  I’m really excited to be working with such amazing people, I can’t begin to imagine how much I will learn from them.  As part of my work for this committee I’ll be serving on the Food subcommittee (so far dealing with two resolutions: A091 – Affirm Work for Food Ministries and Food Security and B006 – Support the Potential of Genetically Engineered Foods in the Care for Creation).  They are two really interesting resolutions, and I’m not just saying that because my Bishop proposed one of them.  I’m looking forward to digging into these resolutions and seeing what’s a work in them.  What do you think about the resolutions, dear reader?

Tomorrow is a pretty big day – presentations by the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies, deputy orientation, presentation of the nominees for Presiding Bishop, and rounding out the day with the second meeting of my legislative committee.  I am positive there will be much to reflect on tomorrow, but for now I am enjoying a quiet evening after a rather easy day.  I’m soaking up the excitement of General Convention and hoping it will help carry me through these insane next ten days.

Pray for us!

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Ready, Set, General Convention!

Once again I’ve found myself at General Convention – as one friend put it recently “my happy place.”  It’s the place I get to combine my love of politics and my love of The Episcopal Church all in one joyous, frustrating, exciting  and exhausting place.  Over the next twelve days, I’m going to be posting daily reflections on what is going on here in Salt Lake City mainly as a way to keep my sponsoring parish, The Church of the Redeemer, and my internship parish for the fall, Trinity Church, in the loop about what’s going on, but also as a way to add another voice to the chorus of General Convention voices.  If there is something in particular you dear reader want to know about, let me know – I’ll see what I can dig up for you.  

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Over the next few days Bishops, clergy, and lay people will descend upon Salt Lake City, Utah for the triennial governing body of The Episcopal Church – General Convention. For those of your not immersed in Episcopal geekery, General Convention is a bicameral legislature that functions like Congress, but hopefully in a kinder, gentler, more gracious spirit. The House of Deputies is comprised of four lay deputies and four clerical deputies from every Diocese.  This is my fourth General Convention, third as a Deputy, and I am as excited about this gathering as I was for the first time I went in 2006.  The other day I was asked what I was looking forward to most about General Convention, so I came up with this top five list of things I’m excited and nervous about that you might find interesting as well.  I’m pretty sure this list will change greatly over the next two weeks but for now here it is:

1) The 27th Presiding Bishop.
At this General Convention we will elect – more specificity the Bishops will elect and the Deputies will confirm – the 27th Presiding Bishop for The Episcopal Church. Having served as the lay representative from Province 1 (New England), I’ve had the inside track throughout the whole process but only God knows what will happen next and who will be elected. Each of the four nominees are gifted and faithful Bishops who will lead The Episcopal Church to the best of his abilities using their particular gifts.

2) Same-Sex Blessings
At the last General Convention (2012) a liturgy for blessings same-sex couples was authorized for provisional use. This time around, the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music is inviting us to consider revised versions of the liturgy authorized in 2012 and a revised, gender-neutral version of the marriage liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer. This won’t change anything for many places, same-sex blessings will continue to happen, but it may change what liturgy we use to bless those relationships.

3) The Calendar of Saints
If you’ve been to a Wednesday night Eucharist or Morning Prayer in Lent you’ve experienced some of the breath and depth of the calendar of saints for the Church. For the last few General Conventions this calendar has been expanded and in trial use under the name “Holy Women, Holy Men.” (The Current Official Calendar is known as Lesser Feasts and Fasts). This project seeks to expand the calendar to include a very wide array of commemorations, and has come under a lot of fire for how this has been done. Depending on what happens at this General Convention you may start to hear some new names being commemorated during the Wednesday Eucharist or even find that some of your favorite commemorations have been moved around.

4) Looking to the Future
Much of the work of General Convention is around budgets and keeping things going, but we also spend time doing some visioning and imaging where God is leading us next.   The interim bodies of a General Convention have been looking at our governing structure to see what systems need to be in place on the national level, and the diocese level to support the work of the Church. There have been conversations on how we train clergy – do we use part time, one weekend a month programs or full time residential seminaries? Conversations around fundraising, how we manage our financial resources, and what things we should and should not be investing in. As an example, one conversation my legislative committee (Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation) will spend a lot of time having involves a call to divest from fossil fuels. And there have been conversations on how to get small congregations the resources they need to grow and thrive to continue there mission. Conversations to see how the wider Church can support places like the Redeemer live into their vocation to carry out the Gospel mandates.

5) Stories
One of the best parts of General Convention is a part that never gets any press. Part of our time in Salt Lake City is about reconnecting with friends and colleagues around the Church while also meeting new people. It is about worshipping together and receiving the Sacrament of Bread and Wine side by side with those who we fight it out with during legislative committee meetings and debate sessions on the floor of the respective Houses. It is about hearing stories from around the world about how our brothers and sisters in Christ are doing amazing things in the name of Jesus. It is about learning from one another that we all might be inspired and energized in new ways to carry out our own ministries.

Most importantly I ask for your prayers.  Please pray for all the Bishops, Deputies, Alternates, ECW members, Volunteers, Vendors, and everyone else who makes this gathering possible.  May we carry out the duties entrusted to use by The Church with faithfulness, gentleness, humility, and the right amount of humor.

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