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

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

General Convention - Days 7&8

Dear Friends,

Well, we are almost there - one more day of legislation to go. I sat out this morning to let our Alternate Deputy sit "on the floor" for a session. We always try to get all the Alternates on the floor at least one time. I remember what it's like sitting in the Alternate Section for days and then getting to vote on some resolutions. So, my idea was to do some laundry, take a nap, have some "down time", but I had to stay in the Alternate Section instead. We had a resolution on the floor from the Special Committee #26 about our relationship with the Anglican Communion. Ian Douglas said that is was not a great revision of the original one, but the best that the committee could do given the composition of the group. Then we started debate with a new motion that quoted from the Windsor Report. So I stayed to see how the debater had to say. We didn't take a vote during that session because the word "moratorium" in two resolves was questioned as being against our cannons. Our President, George Werner, called for a committee of the Cannons Committee Chairs, the Chairs of the Constitution Committee, and and our parliamentarian to discuss the question during the lunch recess.

So I was back on the floor when the decision was announced. The use of the word "moratorium" was declared against our Constitution and Cannons so the substitution amendment was declared "out of order." That put us back to the original resolution from the Committee 26. We had to vote by orders. Both the Lay and the Clerical Orders of our deputation voted "no". I have the report of all the "no" or "divided" votes by diocese, but the outcome was that the resolution failed. Both liberal and conservative dioceses voted against the resolution - obviously for different reasons.

We did get some other business finished before we took a supper recess. We went back to work at 7:30 until 9:30. During this time, we did pass a resolution agreeing to start the listening, following, and discussing a covenant - that may take up to nine years before it comes to us to ratify. We also revise Title III on the Ordination Process. There are a few changes from the committee, but most of them were minor (in my opinion). One change would be to have the local congregation who recommends a person for ordination should also be prepared to support the person financially, too. The question was asked what about small parishes who just can't afford to financially support a person? The response was, "At least the conversation should be held. And perhaps an occasional bake sale could help."

We also passed the resolution that consented to the consecration of Beisner for the Diocese of Northern California. He was put on hold until after we passed the resolution that failed because Beisner has been divorced twice and married three times. The House of Bishops concurred with the consent.

Yesterday, we were introduced to the many ecumenical and interreligious representatives invited and attending the General Convention. When the lined up to be introduced, they took the whole front line across the House of Deputies. By the way, I have put in a nomination for the interim Ecumenical and Interreligious Commission. Byron Rushing supported my nomination saying that he has known me for 18 years! (Seems like a long time to me, but I love this "ministry".)

Guess that's it for tonight. We end tomorrow at six o'clock no matter what. I'll send a final report in. Catch the plane on Thursday morning, and should be home that afternoon sometime. The humidity is just as bad as I remembered it growing up here in Ohio. I'll be glad to get back to the Cape and salt air!

Please keep those prayers coming! Thanks, Becky

Sunday, June 18, 2006

More about our new Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori

From an email sent by Communications Director for Dioc. of Massachusetts:

The House of Deputies stopped their business at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, June 18, to receive the news that the Episcopal Church’s first female presiding bishop had been elected. The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, received the necessary majority of 95 votes on the fifth ballot.

Surprised gasps and cheers erupted from the packed visitors’ gallery, briefly breaking the house’s rules of decorum before President George Werner restored order.
In the discussion period that followed, female deputies rose to the mikes, one after another, to urge their fellow deputies’ concurrence.

Just one deputy, Eddie Blue of Maryland, spoke against concurrence, expressing that he was “shocked, dismayed and saddened” and concerned that the election would add to further disunity in the communion, because some provinces do not accept female bishops.

The bishops began the voting process at 10:30 a.m., and remained sequestered at Columbus’s Trinity Cathedral after the election, waiting for the deputies’ consent. Floor discussion ended at 4 p.m. and, after a vote by orders—requested by the Diocese of Central Florida—the House of Deputies gave consent at 4:20 p.m.: 93 out of 108 dioceses voting yes in the lay order and 94 in the clerical order.

The house stands in recess until 4:40 p.m. when Bishop-elect Schori will be presented to the deputies.

188 bishops voted in the election. (Filed by Tracy Sukraw, Editor Episcopal Times)

The Presiding Bishop is elected every nine years to serve as the chief pastor and Primate of the church. Canon law charges the Presiding Bishop with responsibility for leadership initiating and developing church policy and strategies and programs authorized by the General Convention.

The PB is also charged to speak God’s word to the church and to the world, as the representative of this church and its episcopate in its corporate capacity. The PB also oversees and presides at meeting of the House of Bishops, provides for Episcopal ministry in cases of vacancies and visits the dioceses of the church. (Source: Convention Daily 6/18/06 Episcopal News Service)

Below is her bio:

The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada

Katharine Jefferts Schori, 51, was consecrated the ninth Bishop of Nevada on February 24, 2001. She serves a diocese of some 6,000 members in 35 congregations. Jefferts Schori is the first woman selected as a nominee for Presiding Bishop.

Her service to the wider church includes current membership on the Special Commission on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion; the Board of Trustees, Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California; the CREDO Advisory Board; the House of Bishops peer coaching program; the General Board of Examining Chaplains; the Board for Church Deployment; the House of Bishops' Pastoral Development, Racism, and Planning Committees; the Court for Review of a Trial of a Bishop; the Episcopal visitor team for the Community of the Holy Spirit; and the Bishops of Small Dioceses group.

From 2001-2003 she was a member of the 20/20 Strategy Group, and served as secretary of the House of Bishops Ministry Committee at the 2003 General Convention.
She is the author of "When Conflict and Hope Abound," Vestry Papers (March-April 2005); "Building Bridges/Widening Circles" in Preaching Through Holy Days and Holidays: Sermons that Work XI, Roger Alling and David J. Schlafer, eds. Morehouse (2003); "Multicultural Issues in Preaching" in Preaching Through the Year of Matthew: Sermons That Work X, Roger Alling and David J. Schlafer, eds. Morehouse (2001); and "The Nag" in Preaching Through the Year of Luke: Sermons That Work IX, Roger Alling and David J. Schlafer, eds. Morehouse (2000). Her Maundy Thursday sermon was included in What Makes This Day Different? by David Schlafer, Cowley (1998).

She is an active, instrument-rated pilot with more than 500 hours logged.

At the time of her election as bishop of Nevada, Jefferts Schori was assistant rector at the Episcopal Church of the Good Samaritan in Corvallis, Oregon, where she also served as pastoral associate, dean of the Good Samaritan School of Theology, and priest-in-charge, El Buen Samaritano, Corvallis. She was ordained deacon and priest in 1994. Prior to ordination, she was a visiting assistant professor at Oregon State University's Department of Religious Studies, a visiting scientist at Oregon State University's Department of Oceanography, and an oceanographer with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle.

She received a B.S. in biology from Stanford University, 1974; an M.S. in oceanography from Oregon State University, 1977; a Ph.D. from Oregon State University, 1983; an M.Div. from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, 1994; and a D.D. from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, 2001.

Jefferts Schori was born March 26, 1954, in Pensacola, Florida. She has been married to Richard Miles Schori, a retired theoretical mathematician (topologist), since 1979. They have one child, Katharine Johanna, 24, who is a second lieutenant and pilot in the US Air Force.

General Convention #2

Sorry, Folks - This machine is causing a few problems. So I hope that you got the first part.

To continue: When our new PB arrived, we all stood and cheered. The women bishops came in as a group and stood in front of the podium. Bishop Shaw said that when the results of the fifth ballot was announced, Barbara was crying with tears of joy. We did manage to get a few things done in the next forty-five minutes - including passing the resolution on the millennium Development Goals.

I also wanted to tell you about the celebrations we had yesterday. First there was the celebration for George Werner at five o'clock. It was nice. His whole family was present, and many wonderful things were said. But the best celebration was at eight o'clock when we celebrated Frank Griswold's ministry as PB. It started off with the announcement that they had tried to borrow equipment from "815", but it never arrived. So they were going to create the "slides". Using about ten actors, they gave a funny biography of Frank's life. It was very different, and I really enjoyed it. Next we had more serious testimonials, including a hymn led by three SSJE monks. Ian Douglas spoke. Bishop Tutu sent a congratulations via video. Next Phoebe Griswold was honored for her ministries - especially the building of houses after the earthquake in Honduras.

The last part was a skit that featured an actor playing Frank. A reporter was interviewing him for the last time. "Wasn't there something he always wanted to say? Now that he was leaving office, what would he like to tell?" You get the impression that Frank is going to say something profound, when the reporter's cell phone rings, and she is called out. Then this "bag lady" who has been hiding behind the trash can, calls to Frank. She says she is the Holy Spirit, and they have this funny but great conversation. Of course, when the reporter returns, she says that Frank didn't have anybody talking to her. It was a great skit, and I think everyone enjoyed it. Then we ended the evening with everyone singing and waving glo sticks. It was quite a site.

The Eucharist on both Saturday and today were wonderful! The music was especially terrific yesterday. We had a great choir and brass orchestra. Today's music was Dixeland style. Bishop Griswold presided at both services. He announced at the end of today's service that the musicians had arrived after midnight without their clothes or instruments. So they had to rent the instruments by ten o'clock on a Sunday morning, and make a trip to Walmart for clothes that were more appropriate for church.

So what a day it's been! One I won't forget for a long time, and I am so thankful that I was here.

I'll try to get another message out tomorrow. In the meantime, I suggest that you (the reader) look at the ENS (Episcopal News Service) site if you haven't before now. They have many articles. Also our Diocesan website will have another version.

Good night.

Dear Friends,

Sorry Folks - I got to my room about ten-thirty last night and discovered that I had no connection. Then I was gone all today (more in a moment!), and tried to get on the Internet again. No luck. They sent me a computer person who has spent over an hour trying to fix the problem - He thinks the weekend housekeeping people mixed-up the connections. Anyway, we finally gave up and now I'm downstairs in their computer "lab". They have two desktop computers - one is occupied - and I guess that there isn't a time limit, so here I go!

Yes, we elected a woman as Presiding Bishop today! As Ian Douglas said, "This will really change the Primates meeting next February." After the Eucharist this morning, the bishops all caught buses to Trinity Church where they went into seclusion. Instead of white smoke, though, they send two bishops to the House of Deputies with the results in an envelope. We knew when we broke for lunch that the bishops had done three ballots, and had also gone to lunch. So after lunch, we worked for awhile - passing the Consent Calendar items, a few resolutions, and then the two bishops arrived. The envelope was given to the committee that oversees the election of bishops, and they disappeared for about thirty minutes. Then they returned, and the chair gave their report. Just before the name was announced, Skip Winsor (who sits beside me) asked me who I really wanted. I pointed to Kathryn's picture, and said, "But I don't think she won." Then the name was announced! We all gasped; we were so surprised. President Werner had to quiet us down, and then we had to concur with the Bishops' election. It took five ballots - as you will hear/learn via other means. It was a very emotional, exciting time for me - still is. This event has overshadowed everything else I was going to tell you - almost.

So after we voted to concur, the two bishops were sent back to Trinity (The others had been kept in the church. Again, Byron Rushing had the comment about that, "Can't think of a better place for bishops to be hanging-out!") Maybe another fifteen minutes went by, and then Kathryn arrived. They had let the New York Times Reporter and one other on the floor for the arrival.

Friday, June 16, 2006

General Convention - June 16

Dear Friends,

It's been another interesting day - I seem to be saying that each night, don't I?

Today, we had two long legislative sessions. We worked on one resolution about Title IV. We agreed with the House of Bishops that the Presiding Bishop could retire at 72 instead of 70. We added people to the calendar of Lesser Fasts and Feasts. Three people names were put in nomination for the next Vice President of the House of Bishops. Election will be tomorrow.

Today's Eucharist celebrated the life of Joseph Butler, Bishop of Durham, 1752, and women's ministries. Now you may think these two ideas don't go together very well, but the preacher, The Very Rev. Martha J. Horne did a great job. Bishop Geralyn Wolf was the celebrant.

Tonight was the Massachusetts Dinner - everyone who is from the Diocese was invited. We gave Shirin McArthur flowers and a gift as she is leaving the Diocese the end of next week. Bishop Orlando and his wife had been invited by Bishop Tom. So I ended up having dinner with Tom, Orlando, Vera (Bishop Orlando's wife), and Betsy Madson. (Not bad company!)

Mark Wilkerson arrived today, and he was also at the dinner. Service was awful, but the food was plentiful and good.

Guess that's it for tonight. The large service with UTO ingathering is tomorrow instead of Sunday. The music for the service is special music composed in honor of Frank Griswold's ministry. I am looking forward to that.

Check out or Diocesan web site for news from the House of Bishops - perhaps with pictures.

Until tomorrow - Becky

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

General Convention Day 2

Dear Friends,

Had computer problems yesterday and this morning. Guess it just needed some time by itself, because it seems to be working now.

It's been an exciting two days. Briefly (because it is almost 10:30 PM) the Ecumenical Relationships Committee has completed its work. Today we had the hearing on beginning to examine common communion with the United Methodists. So everything from us will go next to one of the Houses. By the way, the last two days, I've been sitting next to our Dean's brother, Daniel Appleyard. A nice surprise.

Something new this year, visiting bishops from other provinces or Companionship Dioceses are permitted in the House of Deputies to sit with their Companion Dioceses. So I invited Bishop Orlando, Primate of Brazil to be with us. He actually found me this morning before I saw him! I had hoped that he would be present for the Resolution on formalizing the Bilateral Committee. However, the House of Deputies spent over an hour trying to vote electronically for the new Church Pension Directors. So we had lots of laughs, but now we have to use a paper ballot tomorrow morning. The first resolution will be on the Brazil-Episcopal Bilateral Committee, and Ian Douglas has asked that I speak to it. This will be the second time I will have addressed the House of Deputies.

Bonnie Anderson was elected President of the House of Deputies today. Then she was in charge during the afternoon fun and games. She was very good leading that enormous group - remember we are over 800 people trying to get resolutions completed.

My Bible Study/Eucharist table is missing four people. I don't know if the missing people are part of the Network, or what the problem is, but the people there are very nice. Today's sermon was in Spanish with an English translation available at our tables. The entire service is published for each day, so there is no need for Prayer books or Hymnals. We sing a variety of music and I love it! On Monday, I was an Eucharistic Minister administering the Host. What a blessing to be doing that to people (bishops, clergy, Episcopal Church Women, lay Deputies, Visitors) from all over the world! If I had to choose the best part of yesterday, that would be it.

I've come back to my room so late because we just had the hearings for four of the Special commission's Resolutions. We were in a ballroom - over 1200 seats - and still people were standing outside. Ian Douglas is on the committee. Jane Gould (one of our Deputies), Sam Gould (her son and part of the Youth Presence), Bishop Barbara Harris, and many, many others spoke. I left at 9:45, and they were still being called up to the mike. The chair gave everyone two minutes to speak, and then he shortened their time to one and a half minutes.

Well, I'm very tired, so I guess this is my report for today. I do get to sleep in a little tomorrow if I want to because my committee is done. But I should really go to World Mission or Urban Affairs to listen in to what they are doing. I'll see how I feel at six o'clock.

Keep the prayers going, please. I can feel the support.


Monday, June 12, 2006

General Convention News Websites

To supplement Becky's Convention Journal, here are some
websites to read more about General Convention:

General Convention - Monday

Dear Friends,

It is 10:00 PM, and I've just returned to my room. The day started with my first meeting with The Ecumenical Relations and Interreligious Concerns. The Co-Chair came over at the beginning of our session, and requested that I do the closing prayer. We had met before - in Brazil. Kate is from the Diocese of Indianapolis.

We met for about three hours. We have been assigned six resolutions. Hearings have been scheduled for the first four resolutions for tomorrow morning at 7:30.

I went through the Exhibit Hall for a little while after lunch. Ran into Bishops Gayle and Barbara Harris. Gayle saw my Cape Cod pin on my lapel, and said that she has spent so much time on the Cape lately that she should have one. So, of course, I took the pin off, and pinned it on her suit. (It's one of those old pins from Hy-Line, when I used to do tours of Cape Cod. It's time for it to belong to someone else for awhile.

I attended the hearing of the priorities of the Budget process after lunch. Speakers were permitted three minutes each to get their point across.

We had "Deputy Conversations' this afternoon. Both Frank Griswold and George Werner spoke before the were given three questions to answer in small groups. The room was very cold, and many of us were complaining.

Our Deputation met at 5:30 to discuss our day, and to bring each other up on legislation. Bishop Bud joined us. Bishop Shaw had to return to his committee since he is chair of World and National Affairs.

A group of us then went out to a Greek restaurant for supper. Took a deputy from Connecticut with us who also grew up in Ohio.

I recommend that you check out the General Convention coverage on the Episcopal News site. Bishop Griswold's comments this afternoon are posted, and news from Program, Budget, and Finance is also there. Their site is

That's it of today. Please keep us all in your prayers. - Becky Alden

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Beginning and Arrival

Dear Friends,

I am here - in Columbus. I am registered. Have my large, economy-sized notebook that will be filled by the end Convention. I know where our Deputation will be sitting - next to the Diocese of Los Angelos. Plus I have my table assignment for the daily Eucharist and Bible Study. Our hotel is right across from the Convention Center - an enormous Convention Center! So all we have to do is cross the street and then walk miles to our meeting rooms.

The trip from the Cape was uneventful. Once again, Bishop Tom Shaw was on the same plane (as he was for the 2003 Convention). We sat across from each other on the plane, and he let me ride with him to the hotel (with his legislative aid - the Chaplain at MIT). However, the rooms weren't ready until two o'clock, so I had plenty of time to check things out across the street.

Tonight is my only free night, so I'm meeting an old friend. She and I haven't seen each other since 1962, when we both worked summer jobs on the Cape. We grew up in Lima, Ohio, went to Christ Church Episcopal, and reconnected just a few years ago. We have been in email contact since then, and just a few hours ago, we actually talked. She and I are meeting in a few minutes, so this is end of my news for today.

Becky Alden