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Thursday, July 12, 2012

GC2012- Thursday Night Wrap-up

It is accomplished! The 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church has met, has reviewed and acted on over 400 pieces of legislation, and we are packing to go home. Thanks be to God!

The overarching feeling of many deputations is one of pride and amazement at the amount of hard work and controversial topics they tackled, while remaining respectful and faithful. Of course, as with every Convention, there are those who are going home feeling disappointed in the outcome of one or more resolutions. For those who leave feeling defeated or disillusioned we offer our prayers and love.

At the end of the day, after all resolutions had been passed, concurred, referred, or withdrawn, the House celebrated the many years of dedicated service of House President, Bonnie Anderson, as she retires to spend time with her family. A video of highlights of her travels and experiences was shown on the jumbo screens as her family shared the moment with her at the podium. She was honored with a standing ovation and cheers from the crowd. Canon Anderson has passed the gavel to the newly elected President Gay Jennings of Ohio, who will assume her duties January 1, 2013.

Deputies applaud Bonnie Anderson.

Bonnie is seen on the screen applauding the Deputies.

Indianapolis has a stunning downtown area filled with museums and historic buildings, as well as a wonderful zoo. Photos will continue to be added to our Picasa web album and Facebook page as the deputies gain time to sort through their photo impressions.

It has been a tremendous honor for the entire deputation to serve the Diocese as deputies, and all will leave for home anticipating the arrival of the 78th General Convention in 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah... but not quite yet! Good night from Indianapolis! Texas, HERE WE COME!

GC2012- Thursday, July 12, 2012

General Convention has been a surprise and a delight in almost every way. We arrived in Indianapolis with with a lot of anxiety, even fear, over how a number of things would play out. There was a strong but inchoate consensus on the need to restructure the way we organized our common life, and the way we did our business. There was great concern and mistrust over both the content and the process of building a budget. We had blessings of same-sex relationships to deal with, the Anglican Covenant to respond to, and we knew that both of these would have consequences far beyond these eight days. Also, there was a veritable host of other issues, grudges, and concerns. Just to make things interesting, for budget reasons, Convention was two days shorter than ever before, and that time squeeze was a constant pressure. The first couple of days were pretty intense.

But there is something special about Convention. There is a spirit here, the Spirit is here, and from time to time amazing things do happen. Deputies, Bishops, Staff, and a delightful hosting team from the Diocese of Indiana all said our prayers and went to work. Stuff happened.

The Deputies enjoyed singing during a break.

The things that needed to get done got done, with an ever-improving spirit. We put together a $111 Million budget for three years that provides money for a number of new ministry initiatives that will actually happen on the local and Diocesan level, and not far away in New York. The budget passed without a huge fuss (an especially refreshing moment for me). Blessings of same-sex relationships passed overwhelmingly, with spirited and respectful debate. We "kicked the can down the road a bit” on the Anglican Covenant, keeping us in the Communion-wide conversation about what it looks like to be a part of the Anglican Communion. As this post goes to press, we aren't finished with everything, but so far we have done mostly sensible things with the other issues we have had time to reflect on. Opportunities to mess up do remain.

Life on the Floor of Convention is always interesting. We have laughed and cried and sang and engaged in parliamentary perplexity that would put Congress to shame. We have had glorious worship and powerful preaching. We rushed through some things and dragged through others. The floor of Convention is its own thing.

There is one moment on Tuesday I remember as a case of General Convention at its best. I mentioned above the energy, anxiety and vastly different ideas that were brought to Convention over the issue of restructuring. Most everyone thought that we could solve many of our problems by changing the way we operate. (A dubious assumption as far as I’m concerned--like buying new clothes to fix a broken arm.) Anyway, Convention managed to hear most everyone who had something to say about restructuring, craft a sensible proposal for developing a different structure over the next few years, present it coherently, and pass it unanimously on the floor. This is a happy conclusion that absolutely no one anticipated.It showed that we can do difficult and complex things well.

Personally, I found that the intense press of business with the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance, kept me in meetings for most of the time. I even missed out on serious time in the Exhibit Hall, my favorite part of General Convention. I missed that part, and was glad to be able to spend more time with our Bishop and Deputation once the Budget had been passed.

The Northwest Texas Deputation did a great job. We didn’t always agree among ourselves, and that was just fine with everyone. The Deputies took our work very seriously and ourselves less so. Everyone always showed up for work and worked hard. I congratulate every one of them—you were very well served by your deputation.

So, I rejoice in Convention, and in our Church, and I can see an interesting and fruitful unfolding of our common future growing out of this important time.

Jim Liggett
St. Nicholas', Midland
Clergy Deputy and Deputation Chair

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

GC2012- Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I am tired. Or as Ace Reed might have written in his classic dictionaries of Texan English , “Ah am tard. T.A.R.D.”  Not to be confused with “retard” which means “to have given up one’s career: e.g., the retard Bishop of Wherever, who is to be replaced by the Suffering Bishop-Elect.”  But that’s Ace Reed, not me.

We are now in the next-to-last day of this momentous General Convention and we have been working until late at night and resuming early the next morning for the last several days.  If cell phone calls to loved ones at home have been terse, it’s not about you.

This is my first General Convention and so I can say without fear of contradiction, this is the best General Convention that I have ever attended.  Like my Call to the priesthood, I am perpetually a late bloomer, and so it was that I was called to be an Alternate Deputy at more or less the last minute after those before me were unable to be here.

So, I went to the Worship Service/Eucharist the first morning here at the hotel, and as the music subsided, the altar party walked out to take their positions, and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefforts Schori, was in the middle of the procession. “Oh, yeah, we ARE at the General Convention. Impression One.

Some days later the worship service was taking some time to finish the Communion and return the vessels to the front of the worship space, and at the leading of that day’s music director, the gathered community spontaneously entered into a sequence of Taize song: Ubi Caritas, Jesus Remember Me…  Behind me a young Shoshone Indian Episcopal man from Idaho sang the Taize refrain with a pure, clear tenor voice, putting my best efforts in the shadows of his gift.  Memorable!  Impression Two.

Yesterday, being on the floor as a Deputy, replacing one of the regulars:  The first vote, something inconsequential, I don’t even remember.  What I DO remember is the sense before I voted, that the act of voting from the body of the church was really IMPORTANT.  I felt the responsibility very keenly. Impression Three.

When the vote for the provisional approval for the blessing of committed, long-term, monogamous same-gender relationships was approaching, the prayerful sense of responsibility was tangible to my core.  The House of Deputies called the Chaplain to the floor on two occasions to lead us in prayer.  I had my Anglican Prayer Beads (Rosary) in my hands, praying the prayers of St. Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well.  And all shall be well. All manner of things shall be well.”  And this old former Quaker kept praying that the Holy Spirit would breathe on me, let me feel the direction to which the Spirit was leading, and show me how to vote on this question and in this place.  And the FEELING that I got, that came to me, was to vote “Yes”, and so I did. Impression  Four.

Final Impression: The Deputation from Northwest Texas, and our Bishop, represent the best of the Anglican Tradition as expressed in the Episcopal Church today, proceeding, sometimes grudgingly, into the 21st Century, listening intently for God’s voice in on-going revelation.

I believe that we have heard correctly, even if the message makes some of us uncomfortable.  The Prophets of old always challenge the People of Israel to hear the voice of God.  I do believe that the voice of God is speaking in this General Convention and that we have been challenged to reconsider our set ways and to be open to the amazing gift of God’s love and grace to all of His Creation and all of His Creatures.

The blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be with us all and remain with us always.

Edson Way+
St. Christopher's, Lubbock
Clergy Alternate

A Special Message from Bishop Mayer

 As has been reported, this 77th meeting of the General Convention has passed a resolution authorizing a provisional rite for the blessing of same sex unions. With the passage of this resolution- entitled, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant”- individual bishops will be authorized to permit this rite in their respective dioceses.

To be clear, this rite is not understood to be marriage, but rather a generous pastoral response to those living in a lifelong monogamous relationship.

I support this resolution. Having said that, permission for clergy to use this provisional rite in the Diocese of Northwest Texas will not be granted until we have completed a lengthy period of prayerful discernment.

Undoubtedly, the action of this General Convention pleases some and disappoints others. It is my prayer that as we discuss this among ourselves, we respect and honor one another with an interior posture of humility and faith.

With affection and gratitude, I remain your servant in Christ,

+J. Scott Mayer

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

GC2012- Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This day began in much the same manner as all prior days, however without the usual 7:30am committee meeting.  Celebration of the Holy Eucharist began at 9:30am and, once again, blessed us one and all with music that fed the soul and brightened the beginning of our day.  The sermon encouraged us to not be fearful but trust in the Lord.   

Such an admonishment is not only fitting for all of us each and every day but is particularly helpful for those of us at General Convention as we grow increasingly weary given the rigorous daily schedule and feel the press of getting our business completed before we adjourn at 6:30pm two days hence.

Our schedule today focused largely on the Episcopal Church's continuing response to the proposed Anglican Covenant; the election of the President of the House of Deputies (The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, Diocese of Ohio) for the next triennium; the 2013-15 budget; the restructuring of the governance of TEC; and the authorizing of Liturgical Sources for Blessings Same Gender Relationships.

The work of General Convention continues to fascinate this observer.  Despite the accumulation of far more resolutions than the legislative committees, the House of Deputies, and the House of Bishops can possibly address effectively within the time we are prepared to offer, or can afford, we continue to go about the church's business with a tone of civility not witnessed elsewhere in our society.  Our work together is surely a witness to God's mercy and grace as well as his/her sense of humor.

This marks my 5th General Convention as a deputy from our diocese and my remarks about this, the 6th day of our gathering, would be incomplete without my extending my heartfelt thanks to the diocese for allowing me the distinct opportunity to witness, and participate in, the unique governance of the Episcopal Church.  Each and every day is made more joyful by the presence of the other members of the deputation and the ECW representatives from our diocese.

Thanks be to God.

Cliff Craig
St. Andrew's, Amarillo
Lay Deputy

GC2012- Monday, July 9, 2012

Today was the busiest day of legislation so far.  We were all bleary-eyed by 6:30 p.m.
More than one of us was caught nodding off as we listened to amendments to the amendments of already amended resolutions. Several important resolutions were brought to the HOD today, all of which passed:  
  • D002 allows ALL persons access to the discernment process for any ministry of the Episcopal Church (in accordance with the Canons). 
  • DA050 will establish a Task Force on the Study of Marriage to identify and explore the biblical, theological, historical, liturgical and canonical dimensions of marriage.  This study will take into consideration same-sex unions.  
  • B019 and C060 challenges the Episcopal Church to support the Diocese of Jerusalem and to implement a strategy of advocacy and education in the church during the next triennium to further a just resolution of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.
Our morning Eucharist was most definitely a "sweet hour of prayer", the highlight of my day.  Today the church commemorated Samson Occum, first ordained Native American minister.  The Rev. Dr. Mary Crist, also known as Eagle Woman in the Blackfoot nation, preached this morning. We heard how a new church can be started with no congregation, no building, no budget....but a lot of faith in the power of the Holy inspiring story of love, acceptance, and community building. Her inspiring sermon may be read at

The Red Leaf Singers (South Dakota Sioux) sang and drummed the "prelude".  

Lessons were read in Shoshone, Dine', and Lakota.  A Native American deacon served at the altar, a young woman played the Native American flute during communion, and other youth signed the Lord's Prayer in Native American sign language.  

There were other superb musical offerings:  The bishops' spouses sang the offertory anthem.  And there was a hammer dulcimer, pslatery and guitar playing American folk hymns. 

We are all enjoying ourselves, making it to meetings on time, buying books and gifts in the exhibit hall, and reconnecting with friends from all over the Episcopal Church.  What a great experience!

The Rev. Linda Kelly with Karon Bonnell, deputy from St. Matthew's, Pampa.

Linda Kelly
St. Matthew's, Pampa
Clergy Deputy

GC2012- Sunday, July 8, 2012

Greetings from Indianapolis.   Sunday at this meeting of the General Convention began for many with the running (or walking) of a "5K" to benefit Claire House, and in memory of Mary Ellen Smith, the wife of Dabney Smith, bishop of Southwest Florida.  Kathy Mayer and Jackie Batjer participated in that event.

The Sunday morning celebration of the Holy Eucharist was a glorious event, including beautiful music and an inspiring sermon, preached by our Presiding Bishop.   I commend it to you,  and it can be found online at

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefforts Schori

The Diocese of Indianapolis then hosted an "Indianapolis Event" across the street at Victory Field, home of the Indianapolis Indians -- considered one of the best minor league baseball parks in America.  This was a welcome break in the action, as they provided food and games and relaxation.  The event was underwritten totally, and all donations were designated for their companion dioceses.

Victory Field

Then we went back to work; there is no Sabbath at General Convention.  It's true that we have reached that halfway mark on the timeline,  but in regards to legislation we are in the first quarter of the ballgame.  

The day concluded with a social gathering with the dioceses of our province,  followed by supper.  

As always,  I find General Convention to be simultaneously energizing and exhausting.  I love the worship,  seeing old friends, and spending time with our wonderful deputation. 

Blessings to all y'all,