Wednesday, July 15, 2009

General Convention: Reunions, receptions, worship, light sticks

ANAHEIM - General Convention Wednesday was a swirl of reunions and receptions, worship, music, light sticks and heavy doses of church polity and politics.

For me, the most moving experience was our
worship at mid-day. Bishop Stephen Charleston gave one of the most moving homilies I have ever heard.

He called himself a "Ten-minute prophet," saying he had only 10 minutes to convince us that our highest priority as a church and as human beings must be "saving this planet our island home" from the immediate threat of global warming.

"For years now the environmental movement has told us that there is a clock ticking, a clock, ticking, a great organic ecological clock that is ticking away the time of our lives to that when we no longer will be able to reverse the damage that we have done to this planet through our own greed, negligence and ignorance," he said.

Charleston was bishop of Alaska and is a Native American. He went on to be the president of the Episcopal Divinity School in Boston, and is now the assisting bishop for the Diocese of California in San Francisco.

And he said it is no accident that God has called our church to show the way. "The Episcopal Church comes to its decisive moment in history," he said. "Let your mind be open to the truth of what I have spoken."

At communion, Lori and I were among those privileged to serve bread and wine. We were at "Station 6," and I had a basket of bread and Lori administered a chalice of red wine. Many old friends came to our station, including Bishop Jerry Lamb and his wife Jane.

Another old friend, Carl Wright, who is a chaplain in the Air Force, came to our station, and after receiving communion, he asked for a blessing. I was very, very touched by so many familiar faces coming to my station. My soul soared.

We also looked at the exhibit hall, and were especially engrossed by the "Discovery Center" displaying various Christian education materials. The center was the brainchild of our friend Nancy Tennyson, and the photo is of Lori at the center.

This afternoon I sat in the visitor gallery of the House of Bishops as it took up a proposal for same-sex blessings. A group of 26 bishops Tuesday night worked on a resolution calling for the church to develop theological and liturgical resources and report back to General Convention in three years, and in the meantime provide "generous pastoral response." Among those in the working group was Virginia's Bishop Suffragan David Jones.

The resolution did not exactly endorse same-sex blessings, but it opened the door to exploring what that might look like in the future. Bishop Jones and Bishop Shannon Johnston both voted for the resolution while Bishop Peter Lee voted against.

There was a group of bishops who said they preferred to handle same-sex blessings without legislation, but their effort to sidetrack the resolution was not successful. The resolution ultimately passed the House of Bishops with 104 yes votes, 30 no, and two abstaining. The resolution moves back to the House of Deputies for a final vote.

Tonight we attended a Diocese of Los Angeles event that celebrated the Book of Genesis. As we heard the biblical story of creation, we got to wave light sticks. The photo is of our friend Stephen Carpenter and his light stick.

More tomorrow!

No comments: