Wednesday, June 21, 2006

General Convention - last day

Dear Friends,

This will be my last update from Columbus as we are done. The gavel came down at 5:58 PM. We had to stop at 6:00, so we just made it. In order to get some legislation passed, though, we had to cooperate by "concurring" with the bishops' resolutions they had sent to the House of Deputies. Not all the resolutions were even brought to the House because the House of Bishops would not have time to look at them and "concur". Sometimes we had to be reminded that if we amended a resolution that had already passed by the House of Bishops that we were sending it back to them if we changed even one word. That would technically stop all action on that resolution. So we spent most of our time completing resolutions that dealt with revising our canons, world mission, racism, or ecumenical affairs.

We started earlier today so we could get things done. The leadership (President George Werner and Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold) decided to call a joint meeting of both Houses. So right after the Eucharist, we gather together. I have never heard Bishop Griswold be so direct. The House of Bishops had drafted a resolution about our listening process and the Windsor Report. It reads almost identical to the original resolution suggested by the Special Commission and deals with consecrating bishops. Bishop Griswold's speech lasted about ten minutes, and then the bishops returned to their own House to vote on the resolution.

While we waited for them, we did some work. Just before the break for lunch, we received word from the House of Bishops that they had passed the resolution. It was put before our House, and several deputies spoke for and against. The final vote, after several amendments failed, was done by "orders". Clergy in our deputation voted "yes", while the lay vote was "divided". (Two of us voted for, and two voted against. It still counts as a "no" vote.) The resolution did pass by more that 75% in both orders (I have the exact vote downstairs. Remember I have to use the hotel's computer system.)

Some of the resolutions that we passed in the afternoon included an agreement with the United Methodist Church to share Communion on a trial basis. Another resolution asked that we support the Triune God based on Scripture. This was one resolution that we had to vote to "concur". An amendment was tried to add "God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit". But I believe that this amendment was voted down not because it's not true, but because the majority would rather agree with the House of Bishops than let the resolution "die" as there wasn't time to send it back to the other House. (By this time, it was after five o'clock, and the House of Bishops were done with their meeting.)

Some of our deputation has already returned to Massachusetts. Bishop Tom left this afternoon. Betsy Madsen and Jane Gould left to day around four o'clock. The rest of us just came back from having dinner together. We were a group of eight, and it was so nice to relax and not worry about what would be happening tomorrow. Three of us will be leaving the hotel around nine to go to the airport. Bishop Gayle Harris and I think that we will be on the same plane. So I should get home sometime in the afternoon.

Thank you - all - for your prayers and I hope that these emails have helped make General Convention more understandable. I love my time here - meeting so many other Episcopalians from around the world - not just the United States. I love attending the morning Eucharist, singing a variety of hymns in different languages, and being on the "floor" as a deputy. (Do you realize that we used about 75 Eucharistic Ministers every service for a congregation of about 2500 if not more? And we were out within one hour - seldom more that seventy minutes!)

See you on the Cape - Becky