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.