I am in Reston, Virginia, at my first Diocese of Virginia Council meeting (the peculiar name for the diocese-wide annual convention). The big news is that Bishop Peter Lee, after more than two decades as diocesan bishop, announced a date certain for his retirement: Oct. 1, 2009, less than 10 months away. Bishop Shannon Johnston, who has been an understudy for a year now, will take over then and his official enthronement (yes, they call it that) by the Presiding Bishop will be in January 2010.
My impressions of Council are admittedly superficial. There are only a few ways to run a diocesan convention and this one looks much like those in the dioceses of California and Northern California. The one major difference that I can see is that the people here definitely dress better. No blue jeans. The men wear jackets and ties, the women wear business attire and all the clergy actually wear black shirts and white clerical collars at all times. The same vendors we see at Northern California and California conventions are here, some selling glorious chalice-and-paten sets and others with the usual assortment of sometimes-cheesy fake dickie shirts and stoles.
This afternoon I attended the Resolutions Committee, and there was a spirited debate over several resolutions related to same-sex blessings and unions. Stay tuned for tomorrow. I felt blessedly blissful to sit quietly and have no role after my long tenure chairing the Resolutions Committee in Northern California. The debate here was respectful and I felt folks really were listening to each other.
Tomorrow this winds up with votes and the usual assortment of reports from various commissions.
Blessings to all,