2006 Episcopal Convention

A joint effort by the Utah Deputation to capture the action, feelings, and photos of this historic General Convention.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Somber Reflections

The deputation sat in a circle, along with our guests, Bishop Carlos of Mexico, Bishop Otis Charles, Felipe Paris, and Rev Dick Snyder, struggling to come to some understanding of what had happened in the final legislative session of the 75th General Convention.

After emotional debate, the House of Deputies voted to concur this afternoon with the House of Bishops who passed a resolution stating that "this Convention receive and embrace the Windsor Report's invitation to engage in a process of healing and reconciliation," and "therefore call upon Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate to the episcopate whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion." This after the House of Deputies soundly rejected the resolution calling on us to refrain from ordaining gay and lesbian bishops yesterday.

What I heard from our folks from Utah this evening: I feel beaten up. I have a hard time believing in Church right now. Let's don't let this stop us from continuing the push to full inclusion for all of God's people. We must look to The Art of War (Lao Tsu) and be strategic in moving forward. Bishop Carolyn shared her reflections on the process in the House of Bishops. We are all so proud that she stood with those in dissent.

The day started with a joint session of both Houses, during which Bishop Griswold chastised the Bishops and Deputies for not taking the Windsor Report seriously. Sitting in the alternate gallery, I was outraged that he would so baldly try to change the obvious will of the House of Deputies. The Deputies on the floor must have felt even more strongly. Griswold then distributed the text of the resolution quoted above and said the House of Bishops would retire to consider it. After the report came back that the House of Bishops had approved the resolution and several minutes of debate, President Elect Bonnie Anderson asked the House of Deputies for its thoughts on inviting Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori to address the House. Bishop Katharine's words were painful to hear, and afterwards several deputies declared that they would support the resolution, as abhorent the language is, as a gift to Bishop Katharine.

Dave Bailey reflected at the evening deputation meeting that Bishop Schori's metaphor about the dilemma facing the Convention actually placed a clear choice before us. She reminded us that when parents and doctors are considering separating conjoined twins, they always consider whether the separation will allow both babies to live full lives separately. She admitted the language of the resolution was not perfect, but was likely the best we could do at this time.

Now we wonder, was our choice to forego separation out of fear that we would not have a full life separate from the Anglican Communion, the correct one?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Reflections on the PB Election from the Rt Rev Otis Charles, Retired

Sunday, June 18th, Father's, Day we chose a mother to lead the Church as Presiding Bishop. I cast my ballot for Katharine Schori with hope yet not daring to believe we would elect a woman. Actually, there was a lot of reflective conversation before the election which went like, "I'd vote for Katharine but she can't get elected and I don't want to throw away my vote."

I was almost convinced until I realized not to vote for Katharine would be coming from fear.

As the voting proceeded, we sang hymns, listened to scripture, prayed and quietly received the results of each ballot: 44, 49, 68, 88, 95 (an election!) As we waited to hear that the Deputies had confirmed the election of the first woman to serve as Presiding Bishop, I recalled Phoebe Griswold's words to us Saturday evening, "You can be proud to be Episcopalians" and I thought, "We can be proud to be Utah Episcopalians." We helped prepare the Church for this great day.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Music at the Convention Eucharists

I am so impressed with the diversity of music we have had in our Eucharists. To give you an idea of the various styles we have heard:

Tuesday, June 13 - The Choir of Trinity Church (here in Columbus), accompanied by the organ, and a cantor
Wednesday, June 14 - The Windy Village Trio, a woodwind trio consisting of an oboe, a clarinet, and a bassoon
Thursday, June 15 - The Dayton Deanery Choir, accompanied by the organ, and a cantor
Friday, June 16 - a vocal quartet, singing in English and Spanish
Saturday, June 17 - a brass orchestra, with trumpet, horn, trombone, tuba and percussion
Sunday, June 18 - Jazz Sunday, a jazz combo with trombone, trumpet, saxophone, piano, bass guitar, and drums
Today, June 19 - Elisabeth Von Trapp, with cellist accompaniament

My favorite has been so far the Jazz Sunday combo. They come from Houston, I think, and Bishop Griswold announced after the service that the group had been stranded in Houston, arriving sometime during the night without their luggage or instruments. Somehow they rounded up instruments and made a trip to WalMart for some fresh clothing to wear. The group that stayed to listed to them play several spiritual favorites with a jazz flavor (Jesus Loves Me, eg) wanted to know where to get CDs. When I find out, I'll let everyone know - this is great music!!

From Steve Hutchinson

During our morning eucharist (Monday, June 19), we were blessed to have the music sung and led by Elisabeth Von Trapp, great granddaughter of Maria Von Trapp (the Sound of Music). Her voice was magnificent, sort of a combination of Charlotte Church and Celine Dion. Wow! Several dozen worshippers stayed behind to enjoy her sing an extended postlude.

At the beginning of our morning legislative session, a deputy from the Diocese of Fort Worth read a statement from their bishop. It asked the Archbishop of Canterbury for "alternative primatial oversight" in view of the election of the Rt Rev Katharine Jefferts Schori as our new Presiding Bishop. Since this reaction from Fort Worth was fully predictable, there was no response. The Fort Worth deputation did not walk out, probably wanting to stay to speak strongly about the resolutions dealing with the Windsor Report. I expect them to walk out when/if our response to Windsor does not include "repentence" for our actions in 2003, a full moritorium on any future election of any gay or lesbian bishop, and a ban on any further blessing of same sex unions.

Note from Toni: I am posting this after dinner on Monday, and the House of Deputies voted to approve Resolution A160 with an amendment this afternoon. The amendment changed language expressing regret for "breaching the proper constraints of" the bonds of affection in the events surrounding the GC of 2003, to expressing regret for "straining" the bonds of affection... Very spirited debate. We also began to look at Resolution A161, which says we will refrain from nominating, electing, consenting to, or consecrating bishops whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church. The Resolution also says that we will not develop or authorize Rites for Blessing of same-sex unions and apologizes to the gay and lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters hurt by these decisions.

The House recessed at 7pm, because the President did not want the deputies to get tired and unproductive. So tomorrow we go at it again.

Heard from a member of our deputation regarding this Resolution A161: "I'd rather not apologize to the Anglican Communion than have to apologize to some members of the Episcopal Church."

From Rev Canon Pablo Ramos

La elección de la Reverendísima Katharine Jefferts-Schori como nueva obispa presidente de la iglesia Episcopal marca un nuevo capitulo en la vida e historia de esta iglesia.

Para aquellos que hasta este momento seguimos siendo parte de una “minoría” dentro de la iglesia, hoy tenemos la esperanza de que nuestras voces sean escuchadas. No porque la obispa Katharine hable por nosotros sino porque tenemos la esperanza que se siente con nosotros para entablar un dialogo serio que nos permita finalmente participar plenamente en la vida total de la iglesia.

El ser testigos de este momento histórico de la iglesia es de gran bendición pero al mismo tiempo de una gran responsabilidad para aquellos que apoyamos esta decisión. Cada uno de nosotros debemos luchar por hacer de esta iglesia un lugar donde todos y todas sean bienvenidos, tenemos la responsabilidad de rediseñar nuestros modelos de misión y evangelismo, pero sobre todo tenemos la responsabilidad de que nadie en esta iglesia no pueda participar del cuerpo y la sangre de Cristo.

Como nuestra obispa Carolyn dice “quienquiera que seas de dondequiera que eres bienvenido entre nosotros” Dios bendiga a nuestra nueva obispa Primada y a esta maravillosa iglesia.

Rev. Canon Pablo Ramos

Sunday, June 18, 2006

First Reactions to the PB Election from the Utah Deputation

Wow! What a wonderful thing. I fully support this election of the new Presiding Bishop - a support based on her talent, temperament, and grace. Jay Stretch

This is fantastic! It far exceeds my fondest dreams of what this General Convention might accomplish. It is a very strong and affirming step in faith! Steve Hutchinson

Oh, My God! I can't believe it. Just when I thought I had guessed how the election would go - the Holy Spirit surprises us. This is so incredible for the Church. Thanks be to God. Lee Shaw

The Leadership of the Episcopal Church has worked so hard to have us be open minded, responding to the church as it is (as multi cultural) and to stay open to the Holy Spirit. It must have worked because the most amazing thing has happened. No one expected Katharine Jefferts-Schori to be elected as the Presiding Bishop. It wasn't the time for a woman, too many other struggles, and she hadn't been a priest or bishop long enough. However, no one denies she is smart and spiritual enough. It is a red letter day. This convention celebrates the 30th anniversary of the ordination of women, so what a time to elect a fabulous leader who happens to be a woman. It's a thrill for us to have her be our neighbor in Nevada. It reminds me of the election of Bishop Irish - same kind of excitement. Praise God! Susan Wiltsey

The mood in the House after the announcement can only be described as ELECTRIC - what an amaxing moment! What a gift Katharine Jefferts-Schori is to our church - she has amazing gifts and I am excited to see where her leadership will take us. I thought I knew which way the election was going to go, and I am totally blown away - but it was a very, very good way. What a day! And what a future we have before us! Karen Cramer

Having met our Presiding Bishop Elect at the Province VIII meeting this year, I talked with her a couple of times at this Convention. I feel she is a very capable leader, strong enough to work constructively with the international problems of our Church, and to bring pastoral leadership to the Church in the United States. I feel she is a powerful person, and will do a very good job. Russ Babcock

Having been with Bishop Katharine in 19 feet of snow at the ordination of Dick Snyder and the Burial Service for Bishop Plummer when she flew herself to the high desert of Southern Utah, I know her to be a person who will go the extra lengths for pastoral care and service. The church is truly blessed by her election as Presiding Bishop. A new day dawns in the life of our church. As was said on the floor of the House of Deputies, "Another glass ceiling has shattered." Dave Bailey

My first reaction was an exclamation and shout as I grabbed Toni sitting next to me and then...tears of joy that our church had the courage to elect such a fine person.
Jim and I were privileged to come to know Katharine at the Paths Crossing conference on the Piaute Reservation in Nevada in April 2005. I found her to be a woman of great intellect with a commanding presence. She has the ability to articulate the Gospel in simple yet profound way. I am additionally fascinated by the fact that Katharine pilots her own plane. It is an exciting and new day for our church of which I am so proud to be a member. Sue Duffield

In closing, let me just say that the mood around here is very fine. I skipped out of the last bit of deliberation in the House of Deputies to go scrounge up a couple of bottles of champagne and some cheese. Our deputation and some friends are here in Dave Bailey's suite toasting women and men and the Church. I am so touched with this election. I met Bishop Carolyn outside of the House and we just looked at each other and cried through our smiles. Thank you to everyone that made this trip possible for me. Toni Marie Sutliff

From Bishop Carolyn

Good people of Utah:

The Holy Spirit swept through the House of Bishops this morning giving us the vision and the courage to elect Katharine Jefferts-Schori as our next Presiding Bishop. To other explanation is needed or possible.

I have never been so proud to be part of this Church. "That which has been cast down is being raised up..." It took the courage of our two houses over many years to raise up minorities, Gene Robinson, and Bonnie Anderson (the new President of the House of Deputies). It is truly a new day.

We will, at the same time, continue on the way Christ prepares for us, generation after generation, from the past and into the future.

Pray for Katharine and for the whole Church!

Faithfully, Carolyn+

From Karen Cramer

The first thing I could think was - It's a Girl!

On Sunday, June 18, 2006, the Rt Rev Katharine Jefferts-Schori was elected as the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

The House of Bishops met in an executive session at Trinity Episcopal Church, electing on the 5th ballot the current bishop of the Diocese of Nevada.

The Rt Rev Katharine Jefferts-Schori, 52, was consecrated the ninth Bishop of Nevada on February 24, 2001. Not only is she the first woman to be elected as Presiding Bishop, she is the first woman even to be nominated for the position.

Following the House of Bishops' election, the announcement was made to the House of Deputies. Although the deputies and the many visitors in the gallery were reminded beforehand about the rule against applause or demonstrations of any kind, there was a collective gasp and applause when the announcement was made.

In order to make the election complete, the House of Deputies had to vote to concur. A call was made for a vote by orders. The result was:

Lay - 93 yes, 8 no, 7 divided
Clergy - 94 yes, 10 no, 4 divided

(a vote by orders counts just the delegations, not the individual votes)

It's a Girl!

This afternoon, on the fifth ballot, the House of Bishops elected Katherine Jefferts-Schori, the Bishop of Nevada, to be the 26th Presiding Bishop. After many stirring voices urging support, the House of Deputies voted overwhelmingly to support the election. I'm off to get champagne, and will have more details later.

Saturday afternoon and evening

The afternoon session began with the official nominations for the Presiding Bishop office. In addition to the four put forward by the Nominating Committee, three were nominated from the floor. The House of Bishops had previously voted not to consider anyone nominated after April 1, to ensure that all nominees had the appropriate physical and psychological testing. The House of Bishops votes on Sunday, after Eucharist, in closed sessionl

I missed the rest of the afternoon session to attend the reception by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and Witness, a publication of Episcopal Church Publishing Company. The reception was held in Trinity Church, which is beautiful - a bit larger than our St Mark's Cathedral.

The keynote speaker at the reception was the Rev. Canon Niam Ateek, director of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, and a strong and tireless proposent of faith and non-violence. His message of inclusive faith concluded with the story of Jonah. That marvelous little story tells us that God is larger than what the Israelites could imagine, the people of God included many more than just the Israelites, and the lands of God extended farther than just the biblical lands of Israel to include the lands of the enemy, the Ninivites (if I have the names correct). Rev Attek is impatient with those who believe they have the only true faith.

The Rt Rev Barbara C Harris, President of Episcopal Church Publishing, and Janet Chisholm, Chair of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, presented the awards of the evening. This was the first time I have seen Bishop Harris in such an intimate setting. She is very small and yet so large. Reminds me of Betty Cunningham.

The opportunities for activities such as this reception abound at General Convention. It's impossible to fit everything in!

Saturday's Festival Eucharist and UTO Ingathering

So, now I know what it is like to be in a room with almost 10,000 Episcopalians - or about two times the total number of Episcopalians in Utah!

The service began with the procession of bishops - over 300 of them. Bishop Griswold presided, and had us laughing with his small instructions to the folks with him, forgetting that he had his microphone on.

Two highlights for me: I had signed up to the a Eucharistic Minister, and the station to which I was assigned included much of the Bishop group. What a thrill to be up close and personal with so many of them.

Even more importantly, the sermon by Dr. Jenny Te Paa, and priest from New Zealand, a native Maori, and on the Anglican Consultative Council (I think - anyway she is someone high). I can't begin to recall her wonderful message, but I hope it is posted on the ECUSA website for all to read. I want to visit New Zealand and get immersed in that Maori culture.

The music was provided by the combined choirs of St Alban's, St John's, St Mark's, St Philip's, St Stephen's, and Trinity Church. The first reading (Eccclesiasticus 51) was in Chinese. The UTO ingathering was impressive.

The only thing I missed was my table - we sat in rows for this service so that all could attend.

Friday on the Floor

Hello all:

I hit a wall over the last couple of days and haven't had much energy to post. Sorry!

Just to catch up a bit, I switched with Deputy Karen Cramer to sit as a Deputy on the floor on Friday afternoon. It gave me a chance to see what the table chatter is during debate, to get a close up of the flags behind the front tables, and an upclose of the Little Doohickey.

I rather like my place in the alternate deputation gallery, although it was nice to see the deputies from our Diocese!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Integrity Eucharist - from Lee Shaw

Each General Convention, Integrity sponsors a worship service.  It is always the highlight of Convention for me and for many others.  This year it was held in Trinity church, packed to standing room only with a television feed to the parish hall downstairs.  In her welcoming remarks, the Rev. Susan Russell, president of Integrity, noted that General Convention is one great family reunion.  "We have wonderful worship, church legislation, and shopping, all under one roof!"
It is also the tradition of this service that the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered (glbt) clergy vest as a witness to the church of who we are and how we serve the church.
This year Bishop Gene Robinson was the preacher.  He gave a powerful and very personal sermon of his awakening to Jesus and to himself as a gay person.  At the end of the sermon he noted that this is where his sermon "should" end.  But he asked our indulgence to share a bit more personally.   He said that he is asked over and over, "How can you keep going on with all that people say about you?"  "How can you stay centered."  He then noted that early on he read the book "Embracing the Exile" by John Fortunato.  He then read from the end of the book a "dialogue" between the author and God.  The ultimate message of that dialogue was God saying that you must  "love them anyway."  "Love them anyway." 
I must say that there were few dry eyes in the church by the time +Gene reached the end of the quote, including his own.  I had read this same book years ago and found it to be very helpful for me.
The service was wonderful with music and what the Episcopalians do best: liturgy.  But given the size of the congregation and layout of the church, communion took quite a while.  We finished the communion hymn and the organist was meandering around the keyboard with soft liturgical background music.  At which point Bishop Barbara Harris, who was sitting toward the front, stood up, motioned folks to stand and then started "Amazing Grace."  It was amazing watching this small woman getting the congregation to stand.  And we sang the hymn from memory.  I saw no hymnals being opened up.  When we finished they were still adminstering communion in the parish hall, so Louie Crew, founder of Integrity, started "Jesus Loves Me This I Know."  As we sang that hymn Bp. Robinson and the bishop of Southern Ohio came down the nave from downstairs.  It was incredibly moving.
Once every three years, the church gathers and there is the outward and visible support of the glbt clergy who serve the church.  Men and women who serve a church that regularly debates their fitness for ministry, questions their faith, and too often wonders about their very place in the church.  This is an evening where we all remind ourselves on so many levels and in so many ways that yes, Jesus loves me this I know.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Liturgy for the Death of a Pet

Lee Shaw's resolution requesting the development of a liturgy for the death of a companion animal was heard in committee this morning. Several people spoke passionately about the love people have for their pets, service animals, and therapy animals.

Lee, of course, spoke on behalf of the resolution, and Brad Wirth also chimed in. Remember what a good preacher he was? Several clergy spoke in favor, saying this is a liturgy they would use often.

Lee had run into a friend that was training a new therapy animal, and he asked Toby and her human to come as a visual representation of the importance of these creatures. The resolution has not yet been voted out of committee, but we have our paws crossed.

Friday, June 16 - the Pink Plastic Jesus

In today's Eucharist, we celebrated the ministries of women. The Very Rev Martha J Horne (a seminary classmate of our Bishop's) preached, trying to connect the ministries of women, today's readings, and the life of the Bishop of Durham whose feast day is today. She had us laughing several times as she told of Bishop Butler's writings and biographies, none of which mention any women. He never married, had no sisters, and apparently no mother. He was a favorite of the Queen at the time (forgotten her name), for whom he served as chaplain. This Queen enjoyed his company so much that she appointed him Clerk (said as Clark in true British) of the Closet. "True story," insisted our preacher.

Rev Horne's sermon did go on to explain how our readings today (again from the Book of Wisdom, this time read in Japanese, and Luke 10:25-28) provide a nice juxtaposition between the law and wisdom, reason and spirit, poetry and prose, and female and male. The law gives us direction and purpose, and the spirit of wisdom illuminates out path.

Our table discussions today focused on the question "How have you experienced people at this gathering sharing the Spirit's gifts of wisdom, knowledge, and faith?" For many of us, it was "duh." We all agree that just showing up, at this gathering, at work, at home, in our relationships, is witness to the unity of the Body of Christ.

I am so going to miss my table group. For the most part we have all been there each day. Eucharist is open to all deputies, bishops, women participating in the ECW Triennium event, staff, volunteers, families - everyone. As I mentioned before, we are assigned a table, and spend the entire 10 days worshipping with those 8-10 people. This has been good for me in a very specific way. One woman at our table is from the Diocese of Washington DC, and is with the ECW event. She is black and to my mind a stereotypical evangelical praise the Lord sort of person. She interrupts almost every discussion to interject how much the Holy Spirit is working here and how we all love Jesus Christ. And she talks to herself a lot. I have purposely sat next to her each day, to try to understand her very different way of relating to God and to other people. I don't think I quite have it, but I know I am a lot more patient with her than when we started.

This morning, Jane, a priest in Lynn, MA, brought a pink plastic "Eight Ball Jesus". You ask Jesus and question and turn him upside down to find the answer. As I said, I will miss this group.

From Karen Cramer

A note from the "quirky things that happen at General Convention" file:

On the floor of the House of Deputies, each deputation has a pole next to their table, indicating the name of their Diocese.

Many Dioceses have taken to personalizing their poles by placing a symbol on top that represents their Dioceses in some way. For example, Soutwest Florida has a stuffed famingo, Main has a giant plastic lobster. The Utah Deputation, after a bit of rather entertaining deliberation, selected a symbol of our own to adorn our pole - an empty box of Squatter's Polygamy Porter (see below).

The journey of how the box made its way to the floor of the House of Deputies is a long and complicated one, but the short story involved an overnight FedEx delivery from St. George orchestrated by the Rev Susan Wiltsey.

Just one of the little things that helps to keep us entertained during some of the long working hours of Convention.

From Steve Hutchinson

As Vice chair of the Canons Committee, I chaired a subcommittee this week, to try to address changes in the proposed new canons on discipline. You may recall that I have served on a task force for the last five years which produced the original proposal.

This proposal has drawn a lot of attention. As drafted, it would change the canonical provisions from a punishment model to a model founded in reconciliation, and would also make lay persons accountable for certain serious acts of misconduct harmful to the church.

Given the high level of anxiety at this Convention, and the very complex nature of the proposed canonical changes, the Canons Committee will seek to refer the new canonical proposal to an interim task force to work on and bring back to Convention in 2009. This is disappointing, but I feel it essential to keep working on the changes instead of taking them to the floor where the proposal could be defeated.

Stay tuned...

A note from Toni: As Steve notes, he has worked hard with a group of really dedicated people over the last five years to craft a whole new vision of discipline in our Church. Over the past 18 months, he and the task force have travelled all over, showing drafts to various groups that might be interested and seeking comment. I attended one of the committee meetings here to see how it was going, and Steve has the patience of Job. Imagine a group of 25 people, mostly lawyers (a lot of them chancellors in their dioceses), some grammarians, some who think they remember how to parse a sentence (if you're old enough to remember what that is), and the rest just enamored with their own voices. I am disturbed that this group of people that are physically adult would have acted so childishly by waiting until literally the last minute to bring up very basic questions, that could have been resolved or at least explained to the satisfaction of everyone, if raised earlier in the process. And everyone had plenty of time and opportunity to raise them before!!

I am also very disappointed that this group (again remember mostly lawyers) cannot seem to get out of the criminal justice model. They are concerned about due process and protection of the rights of the accused, while the canons of the church in this new vision focus on truth telling and reconciliation. It reminds me of the recent efforts I've seen by medical groups trying to get some protection from liability just to allow them to apologize to patients and families that are injured during a medical procedure.

I do agree that due process and the rights of an accused are important. But, we have to remember that this is not a criminal model (if criminal charges are appropriate, they are referred to the local prosecutor). We need not be so concerned about the accused's constitutional rights. In fact, there is no constitutional right to be a clergy person, or even a lay person in leadership in the church!

What Steve and his task force have tried to do is move away from a model that precludes any real discussion and therefore any possibility of rehabilitation and reconciliation. The new canons would allow an appropriate pastoral response to everyone: the victims, the clergy or lay person, the families of both, and anyone else affected by the misconduct. If reconciliation is not possible, or if the behavior is not susceptible to mere apologies (I'm thinking of sexual exploitation, physical abuse, criminal behavior), the process moves to a more standard investigation, but still with the idea of reconciliation. The church believes that reconciliation of all of us to each other and therefore to God is our primary duty.

In short, I am disgusted with the behavior of some of the people I have seen working on this particular committee. Those of you that know me, know that I am quite idealistic. Even at the ripe old age of almost 49, I still believe we can behave as mature, Christian, adults.

From Rev Susan Wiltsey

Inclusivity is a beautiful thing. For a church it is vital. How could any church not be inclusive and still be a church. The Episcopal Church of my youth was not inclusive and it still survived. I think because of evolution. Today, the inclusivity of the Episcopal Church is palatable. Those working to keep it from being so, stand out like sore thumbs. I hate to use clichés but this one is such a good image. They are strident and angry and self-righteous. The majority, ready to invite everyone, has broad smiles and warmth coming from being loved.

I was proud of our outgoing Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and Bishop Gene Robinson last evening on Larry King Live. They both expressed the complete inclusivity that continues to draw me to this church. Christ could not have had better servants helping us move toward the Kingdom.

Each sermon we have heard has encouraged us to love who we are, and thereby to easily love our neighbor. It is the antithesis of a very rhythmic song from the Broadway show, Avenue Q, entitled, “It Sucks to be Me.” As a priest from the Diocese of Southwest Florida said yesterday in our Eucharistic small group discussion, “it isn’t agreement that keeps us together.” How thrilling to be part of 10,000 who understand that the power of the Holy Spirit is available to us at every minute. How fabulous to have a church that encourages the best of us, encourages us to stretch past our own opinions, by passing them by as fact, to a central truth and beauty that is beyond description: what God offers.

I am proud of our Utah delegation. Our senior delegates, Steve Hutchison, Dave Bailey and Russ Babcock are some of the stalwarts in the center of this church causing it to be the church that it is. Others like Lee Shaw, Karen Cramer, Adam Linton, and Jay Stretch give energy and direction to the committees, which are the backbone of our governance and power. Coming from a state that is not inclusive, we are one of the most inclusive, open and accepting delegations here. I’m proud to hang my hat with such fine folks, people who embody the best of TEC, The Episcopal Church of 2006. So long, and thanks for sending me here and being here with us though this blog.

Love, Susan+

Thursday, June 15, 2006

De Colores

From Lee Shaw:

For the 2+ years I have been at St. Stephen's, I have enjoyed the Latino congregation and taking part (on a limited basis to be sure) in their liturgies and enjoying their fellowship. When we do a joint San Esteban/St. Stephen's liturgy it is always bi-lingual. That is just the way things should be for us and it is good.

So, I come to convention and the worship is printed in English and Spanish and daily, part of the liturgy from sermon to music to Eucharistic Prayer, is in Spanish. That is just the way things should be for our worship at convention.

In the House of Deputies we have 16 flags draped behind the main platform: the American flag and then 15 other flags of countries where the Episcopal Church is established outside of the USA. As the President of the House of Deputies noted, we are an international church. We are NOT the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA). We are not the "national" Episcopal Church. We are an international church, the ONLY international church in the Anglican Communion. For that reason we have our materials translated into Spanish and French. We have 15 foreign flags in the House of Deputies. That is just the way things should be done in the House of Deputies.

That changed for me today.

On the way from my committee on Evangelism to the Convention Center and the worship service I walked past the main doors to the Convention Center. For the last couple of days there has been a Latino combo outside playing music and singing as the deputies and bishops enter the hall. As I walked by today I had to pause. The were playing and singing with a great Latin beat and in Spanish, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Now wait just a minute!! I grew up with "TBHR." Of course it was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir version. But it was "our" song, Americana, our heritage and our history.

"Glory, glory, hallelujah our God is marching on!"

Then I heard it today with a great Latin beat and in Spanish. It wasn't "our" God doing the marching on at all. And through my ears I had new sight.

This is not just the way things should be because we want to be "inclusive" and "welcoming." This is the way things are because we are all in this together. There is not just "mine" and "yours." There is a common sharing our of common life as Episcopalians, Anglicans, Christians. You add to my life and culture as hopefully I have something to add to your life and culture.

It was a wonderful moment for me to have the pieces fall into place. We don't do things in Spanish because that is the way we "should" do it. We do it because we are in this together and we all need to understand one another to be together with one another. We do it because we are called to be one in Christ Jesus. And the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

St. Paul wrote to the church in Galatia: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (3:38)

For us today he could have written: "There is no longer Anglo and Latino, there is no longer rich or poor, there is no longer gay and straight, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."

Demos gracious a Dios!

Memo to Mormon Tabernacle Choir: Get a Latin beat to your version of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

Note from Toni: the liturgy is always simultaneously presented in sign language. The discussions in the House are translated simultaneously into Spanish - just like the UN!

Thursday, June 15, Eucharist

This morning's Eucharist celebrated Evelyn Underhill, Theologian and Mystic, 1941 (thank you Ed Howlett for remembering!). Presiding Bishop Griswold (notice the spelling) preached on the text taken from the Book of Wisdom. In this text Wisdom is a person, in feminine form, that imparts her knowledge through relationships. It is the knowing, rather than the knowing about, through which God imparts wisdom. The intimacy of relationships makes us friends with God.

Our table discussion today asked us how the Holy Spirit guards and guides us in our daily work. My table was stumped for anything to say, so we spent our time discussing last night's hearing on the response to the Windsor Report. I keep remembering what Bishop Griswold said during our first Eucharist - if we call upon the Holy Spirit and are taken seriously, we may find ourselves in uncomfortable situations. I also remember a sermon that my good friend described to me that she preached at a conference last week just before she was ordained (Rev Jenny Tucker). I am not as articulate as she, but taking the story of Jesus healing the leper, Jenny said that two things had to happen for the leper to be healed: the leper had to break the Law (by being in a place where the unclean were forbidden to be - in community with the healthy) and Jesus had to break social and cultural laws (by touching an unclean person, which would have made him ritually unclean). Without either of those brave steps, healing would not have taken place. I don't know where that leaves me on the Windsor Report and our response to it, but I do believe whatever comes out of Convention will be okay if we truly allow the Holy Spirit to breathe here.

I thought you might like an idea of what the worship space is like. The one shows the "stage" where the altar and the other accoutrements are. The other is taken from the choir risers showing the people coming in before workship. The accoustics are not good, as you can imagine. Fred likens them to 1950s Radio Shack hifi schlock.

Some of the group repairs to a local pub for sustenance

Really good beer, which we shared enthusiastically with each other, including an "ice bock" that had 12.5% alcohol.

Susan insisted that we have the house special carrot cake, and several forks. Karen can't even wait until the plate is passed to her!

Pablo finished the cake - he can't believe he ate the whole thing...

Done meeting and ready to eat

Col Jay Stretch and Bishop Irish

Rev Adam Linton. He says he doesn't like his picture taken and I said I didn't care!

The deputation meets

Rather a glum group after a long day in session.

Russ Babcock shares the results of his committee's work counting the paper ballots.

Rev Fred Quinn contemplates the consequences of the resolutions regarding the Windsor Report.

Rt Rev Otis Charles, former Bishop of Utah, joins the deputation for discussions.

Karen Cramer and Rev Sue Wiltsey considering the options.

It's not all work...

We do have a few minutes now and then to get out of the Convention Hall.These are a few pictures that show us not working so hard.

The North Market, a block away, is a popular spot for lunch. It's a converted warehouse building filled with wonderful food and things.

Directly across from our hotel is this small, secluded park.

Col Jay Stretch and Rev Sue Wiltsey enjoy lunch on the steps at the North Market.

Anita Catron helps her friend from Arizona with a booth in the Exhibition Hall.

Millennium Development Goals

Some of you have asked about the MDGs. They were developed by the United Nations and are:

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Achieve universal primary education
Promote gender equality and empower women
Reduce child mortality
Improve maternal health
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
Ensure environmental sustainability
Develop a global partnership for development

For more detailed information, go to http://www.e4gr.org.

Second Legislative Day

Our second day of legislative session started slowly again, with lots of administrative matters in the morning session. We did pass resolutions providing increased resources to various mission and missionary programs.

One thing that surprised me is that at noon each day, regardless of where we are in the deliberations, we stop for noon day prayers (about 10 minutes). The chaplain's message today was about community. His response to those that believe they can worship along (on a hike, on a golf course, etc), is that in community we learn humility, we learn compassion, we learn patience. If we worship alone, how are we to grow in these areas and more. God means us for community.

The afternoon session was a hysterical romp through the use of the voting keypads. The House of Delegates had to elect 12 trustees to the board of the Pension Fund. The ballot had 25 on it. After yesterday's fumblings, the voting secretary took the deputies through the process by asking them again to vote for the top three hymns out of five on the ballot. Although the result was Lift High the Cross, The Church's One Foundation, and Veni Santos Spiritus, 20% of the ballots were spoiled (yesterday approximately 1/3 of the ballots were spoiled).

A delegate rose to move that the electronic voting be suspended in favor of paper ballots due to the high error rate. After the chair of the meeting was unable to determine the result of the voice vote (needed a 2/3 majority to pass) we had to vote electronically on whether to vote electronically! That vote went well, and the motion to use paper ballots was rejected.

Next, a delegate rose to move that if the result of the vote for Pension Fund Trustees returned with a 10% or greater failure rate, the result be determined invalid and voting move to paper ballots. (Russ Babcock of our Deputation is the chair of the Credentials Committee which will have to count any paper ballots, must have been cringing through all this.) The chair wisely determined that we had a 2/3 majority voice vote in favor, thus eliminating the need to use the keypads for this vote. The motion was passed and we moved to the electronic voting for Trustees.

During the electronic vote, many delegates rose to ask technical questions. The keypads acquired several affectionate (?) nicknames, such as the Awakened Beast. My favorite was coined by the male delegate that stood to ask what he should do if his "Little Doohickey" wasn't working. The chair replied, "You bring your Little Doohickey here to the front," to howls of laughter.

The first several votes (we had to vote 12 times, once for each of our 12 choices of the 25 candidates) went slowly as the voting secretary allowed time for people to ask questions and become comfortable with the process. The last part went more smoothly.

The result of the voting...

Of the more than 800 ballots (12 votes equalling one ballot), 94 were spoiled, a greater than 10% failure rate! Russ says paper ballots have about a 10% failure rate anyway, but there you are. We move to a paper ballot this morning. I suggested to Susan Wiltsey that she rise to move that if the paper ballot has a 10% or greater failure rate, we return to electronic voting.

After the failed election, we moved to voting on several resolutions, first passing a resolution allowing the church's national entities (commissions, etc) to use electronic tools to perform their work more efficiently. The irony was palpable.

The most hotly debated resolution sought to establish budget priorities for the Committe on Program, Budget and Finance to use in forming the budget for the church. Some delegates wanted to change the priorities to place more emphasis on Young Adults, Youth and Children, or on Reconciliation and Evangelism. As passed, the priorities are:

1. Justice and Peace (including the Millennium Development Goals - which I will discuss in a separate post)
2. Young Adults, Youth and Children
3. Reconciliation and Evangelism
4. Congregational Transformation
5. Partnerships

So, I'm off to the third day of worship and legislation.

Wednesday Eucharist

This second Eucharist was an unusual experience for many of us. The Rt Rev David A. Alvarez presided and the Rev Miguelina Espinal preached. Much of the service was conducted in Spanish, and our service books had both the Spanish and the English versions of the prayers. The first reading (1 Corinthians 2) was given in Portuguese, and Rev Espinal preached in Spanish. As a somewhat fluent Spanish speaker, I enjoyed listening and caught most of what was said.

Our table discussion asked us to think about how our worship and daily lives help us to show our faith to the world. My table reflected on the discomfort we felt with the different languages, making full participation in the worship more difficult. What we discovered is that our witness to the world is that we can come together as different people, with different cultures and different languages, and in many instances with different interpretations of the scripture, and worship at the same altar and eat at the same table. It is a powerful witness, and I pray that we are able to retain that special gift through the tensions of the upcoming days as we discuss and debate our response to the Windsor Report.

The Windsor Report

It is Thursday morning. I did not have the energy to post anything last night after returning from the Windsor Report hearing. I have asked the members of our deputation to write about it from their perspectives. The following is from Lee Shaw.

It was a standing room only crowd in a full ballroom at the Hyatt Regency for a public hearing on the Windsor Report, the document commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury to address the divisions within the Anglican Communion. We were told that 1,500 chairs were set up, and it was an overflow crowd into the hallway.

It was an evening of listening. This was the time for the church to listen to her members about things that are important to all of us. It was not an evening of easy answers or clear mandates from the breadth of the Episcopal Church. It was, however, an evening that highlighted some of the strikingly different points of view and understandings of scripture, tradition and reason.

For 2 1/2 hours we listened to each other. Sometimes with frustration. Sometimes in agreement. Sometimes with laughter. Sometimes with a sense of wonder of what we had just heard. Throughout it all the vast variety of what we call the Episcopal Church came shining through.

I left the hall tired and unsettled. I await to see how Convention will deal with the resolutions before us regarding our relationships with the broader Anglican Communion. I look to these coming days still with hope, guarded at times, yet hopeful that we will find the language and the approach that will meet the desires of the main body of the church.

And I say main body, because it does seem clear that certain parts of our church have decided already that they have no need for the rest of the body. For some it is deal or no deal with total compliance to the Windsor Report. That saddens me since I really do not see the vast majority of Episcopalians going in that direction.

One part of the hearing that will stay with me forever was a comment by Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire. He gave a heartfelt and impassioned statement of his own sense of God's love and acceptance of him as a person who is gay. He acknowledged that there is much talk about the so-called "homosexual agenda" as if there were a specific plan for all gays and lesbians. Then he acknowledged that agenda: "The homosexual agenda is Jesus Christ."

There it is. I would hope that that is an agenda shared by all of us. Our challenge is to discern the will of Christ in the ordering of our common life at this time in our lives.