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Thursday, July 12, 2012

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

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