Thursday, July 9, 2009

General Convention: Welcome baskets, hugs and hope

The first full day of General Convention is now past, and judging by my email and the Episcopal News Service reports, it was a crush of activity. The top of the news was dominated by a committee hearing on proposals for developing same-sex marriage rites, and the testimony was impassioned on both sides of the issue. No vote was taken. You can read about the hearing the reaction by clicking HERE.

Meanwhile, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams held a private 30 minute meeting with advocates for the inclusion of gays and lesbians, but by agreement, no one was talking about what happened in the meeting. The Archbishop later appeared on a panel discussion on the global economic crisis and his comments were quite thoughtful.

"We have suddenly discovered we have been lying to ourselves," he said. "For the last decade or more there has been a steady erosion of trust in our financial life. Our word has not been our bond. We have learned to tolerate high levels of evasion and anti-relational practices. We have lied to ourselves about the possibility of profit without risk."

You can read more about his remarks by clicking HERE.

With all that, what struck me the most were the reports of infectious hospitality amongst those at convention. There was a panel discussion by representatives of four dioceses that are rebuilding after voting to leave the Episcopal Church: Pittsburg, Quincy, San Joaquin and Fort Worth. The representatives of the rebuilding dioceses  reported finding welcome baskets in their rooms, placed by another diocese, and hugs in the hallways. Everyone I heard from told me of warm greetings and wonderful reunions.

And Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the openly gay bishop whose ordination as a bishop has caused such worldwide controversy, had this to report last night, and I leave you this because it gives me hope:
It's hard for me to move from one place to another because of being stopped by countless numbers of people who want to say hello, tell me they have been praying for me, and to wish me well. More humbling still are the many people (surprisingly many, and usually young people) who want to tell me that my election is the reason they're in The Episcopal Church, or more usually, why they've returned to the Church, after year of being disillusioned with the institutional church. Wonderful, but exhausting too. Many seem so very grateful for the witness of New Hampshire to the wider Church. It is often easy to forget what our life and ministry and witness mean to the greater Body of Christ -- and it is a humbling expression of support for all of us in New Hampshire.

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