Wednesday, July 4, 2012

General Convention about to open; debates, tension, compromise, worship and more

General Convention, that gathering of bishops and deputies from around the Episcopal Church every three years, is about to open in the next few hours in Indianapolis. General Convention is our highest governing body, and the legislation that is approved will have an impact on life in the parish.

This 77th General Convention will have debates about the budget and same-gender blessings; debates about the disciplinary rules and the calendar of saints. There will be worship and prayers, parties and reunions, and a lot of sermons and speeches.

Lori and I had planned to go -- but with the press of things at St. Paul's we've decided to stay put here in Charlottesville. Nonetheless, I will be watching from afar and talking to friends who are there, and blogging from time-to-time. You can follow General Convention on its Media Hub, with webstreams and up-to-the-minute announcements and legislative developments. You can connect to the Media Hub by clicking HERE.

The Diocese of Virginia is publishing its daily Center Aisle commentary from General Convention, and you can read that HERE.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori gave her opening remarks a short while ago, and I was particularly struck by what she had to say in these paragraphs:

A lot of the anxiety in this body right now is rooted in fear of diminishment, loss of power or control, or change in status. The wider church – the grassroots – in not all that interested in the internal politics of this gathering. It is interested in the vitality of local congregations and communities, in ministry with young people, and in opportunities for transformative mission engagement in and beyond the local context. Our job here is to make common cause for the sake of God’s mission. That is in part a political task. 

Politics is not a dirty word – it refers to the art of living together in community, and it applies to Christ’s body as much as it does to the various nations in which this Church is present. We don’t yet live in the fullness of the reign of God, even though we do see glimpses of it around us and among us. Our task is to gather the various parts of this body of Christ, together with any partners who share our values, for the work of building societies that look more like the reign of God. That takes compromise, for we will never all agree on the proper route or method for getting there. We live in the awkward yet lively tension between what is and what will eventually come to be, in God’s good time. We aren’t going to find perfection at this Convention, but we can prayerfully work at discerning a way forward that will let us gather our common gifts to work toward that dream of the reign of God.

You can read the full text of her remarks by clicking HERE.

Check back here at Fiat Lux from time to time in the next few days for updates and my own take on General Convention.

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