18 June 2006

General Notes Part 7

How do I describe this historic moment?

I believe Presiding Bishop-elect Katharine Jefferts Schori put it best when s
he quoted Ephesians saying, “Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. To God be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus from generation to generation, forever and ever. Amen.”

Perhaps many of us would not have imagined that Bishop Jefferts Schori would become the first female primate of the Anglican Communion.
Perhaps we would not have even dared to ask for it! And yet today God provided Katharine for ministry with our Church. And Katharine would be the first to tell you – whatever glory we might perceive in this moment belongs to God.

I am so delighted to share with you my own personal perspective on the process of her
nomination, election, and the consent to her election. Serving on the nominating committee was an honor but also a commitment. Each of the candidates we presented submitted themselves with integrity and impressed with me with their vulnerability at a time when the world was watching. Each of them have served and will continue to serve the Church with wisdom and energy. When Katharine came forward I knew there would be intense skepticism that she was a token, a nod to our handful of women bishops, a gesture. I reflected as Katharine moved forward in the nominating process that she was no token. As our group completed each step in our work, my confidence in her ability to overcome “token status” grew.

Serving on the legislative committee for the Consecration of Bishops gave me another unique perspective, because when the envelope with the election results arrived, my committee was charged to leave the floor of the House of Deputies, review the results, and recommend our consent or our rejection to the House.

Leaving the floor with “the envelope” was a dramatic experience for me. I heard so little political gossip before the election I had no prediction in mind. I thought the extent of the excitement would be knowing the election results before the rest of the House. Alas! We entered a small room and sat around a table and prayed together and sat in silence. When the chair of our committee opened the envelope, it was incredible to hear her name. We looked around at each other in awe and wonder. I realized again what an honor it was to be involved in this way. I had such a strong feeling that I was present for a momentous event, for a moving of the Spirit in our Church. I feel grateful to think that “I was there.”

At my seminary reception this evening, Katharine arrived to a thunder of applause and song, and the flashes of many cameras, and many open arms. Since she is a graduate of Church Divinity School of the Pacific, our party was quite a celebration! We toasted her and gave thanks. I felt honored to be following in her footsteps at CDSP. I pray that others who feel called to new ministries will be likewise inspired by Katharine’s example.

I am so blessed that being born into the Episcopal Church in the early 1980’s, the ordination of
women was a given. It was never not so for me. My generation is not as impressed by women in collars as those of my mother’s generation. On this day, though, I am deeply impressed by the message that our bishops proclaimed. A woman in our most prestigious position, our Chief Pastor, our Primate! The House of Bishops, almost entirely men, expressed their confidence in Bishop Jefferts Schori and in her abilities as a leading bishop of this Church. This is a new thing; the Church is moving. I heard so many people say today, “I love this Church. I remembered today that I love this Church.”

Today I give thanks for the Episcopal Church and the new thing God is doing among us. I think you will see Katharine’s gifts and vision unfold quickly in the coming months, and I believe we will be blessed by her leadership. Truly, it is an historic moment. The people of Kansas, who have so loved and nurtured my own sense of leadership and loyalty, are heavy in my prayers and in my heart today. I hope you join me in celebration!

15 June 2006

General Notes Part 6

To briefly cover Wednesday and Thursday: Wednesday my commitee met but was unable to complete its work as planned. Read about this more at the ENS website I've linked here. So, the "sleeping in" to 8:00 am I was looking forward to has been delayed further to do some more good work. Knowing we are starting up again in the morning means I took the night off and opted out of attending the Presiding Bishop's Forum on Reconciliation. There is a great speaker line-up for this event and I wish I didn't have to miss it, but I'm confident I needed to take a time-out.

While making this post I am watching the CNN Larry King Live interviewing Bi
shop Gene Robinson, Canon Anderson of the American Anglican Council, an openly gay lay Roman Catholic, an openly lesbian UCC pastor in Dallas, a Roman Catholic priest and a Southern Baptism seminary leader. It is almost laughable to know so much about the role of sexuality in this Church, the depth of scriptural interpretation and tradition, and the complicated nature of our Communion and relationships among each other and listen to these sound bites that supposedly explain the whole thing to the American viewers. It's just laughable. It's just more complicated than that.

The special committee hearing held last night in the
1500-person ballroom was charged but disappointing. The committee set such a good tone that though comments were sometimes biting and divisive, there wasn't much snorting or disrespecting. I exchanged looks with people next to me, but we honored the standards set by the committee for respect and good listening. The Archbishop of York spoke again, as did the usual all star sexuality line-up. If anyonen wanted a crash course in the superstars of the Episcopal sexuality debate, last night's few hours would have been a good venue.

Our work goes on. People in the ho
use of bishops want to eliminate my legislative committee's role from the General Convention process and have all bishop elections consented to by the Standing Committee's of each diocese as they except for the 3 months prior to each General Convention. I tried to lobby my opinion that we should definitely take this process out of General Convention, where these consents tend to become sensationalized and used to argue positions having nothing to do with the candidate who has been held up by the diocese in which they were elected after long discernment processes. The use of litmus-tests seems, to me, no different between the two processes, and the General Convention one takes up more money, energy, and controversy and drama than is necessary. I'm for eliminating it. We took a vote by orders, however; if you want to know what that is, begin your google search. I couldn't find anything right away, so godspeed.

After attending the special commitee hearing and having the work of my own committee heavy on my heart and mind, a time spent with old and new friends and Matt having a drink in the hotel was good for my soul. We talked about shaving, South Africa, casinos, college, and relationships, and I was renewed. My friends here with the Young Adult festival, other seminary friends, fellow young deputies and especially my husband
have really bouyed me up in my time here. Through lack of sleep, confusing controversies, and the sometimes overwhelming amount of available wisdom around ever corner - I've turned to Matt and my friends with weariness and found hugs, support, and smiles and jokes.

The Main Thing...

I remember, only two days ago, my energy as I took to the floor of the House of Deputies. Today a familiar feeling set in – a weariness with the debate on the floor among all 800 of us gathered to pass our legislation.

Since we are such a beast of a debating body, we divide into committees. Each committee, something like 26 of them, takes a portion of all the resolutions before us. Each committee then holds hearings on their resolutions. Anyone wishing to speak on these resolutions, for or against, or to propose amendments, is expected to sign up and do so at the appropriate hearing.

Part of the frustration of many of my sisters and brothers in the house is that we cannot go to all the committee meetings and hearings we would like. Many of us serve on legislative committees ourselves, and would have liked to speak at hearings but cannot since we are in our own committee’s sessions.

Therefore, when the resolution emerges out of the committee after hearings and deliberations and is up on the floor of the beastly House of Deputies, some have then had the time to draft an amendment, gain support for it, and attempt to “improve” it. The dynamics of the House are not altogether simple, though. The time of day things come up seems to make as much difference as anything else at times. If it is almost time to go, or if the President preps us suavely, some things tend to go quickly and if we have just heard some fluffy resolutions and feel ready for a good fight, the microphones tend to form long lines behind them.

I propose in response to this that each deputy be given an intern of their own to follow and speak on their behalf! ☺ Otherwise, it’s a sticky mess moving the 800-member small group along.

13 June 2006

General Notes Part 5

If you want to read other convention blogs, check out this website. Today was another full day. My legislative committee, Consecration of Bishops, met again this morning at the ripe time of 7:30 am. We held three hearings today for (suffragan or diocesan or co-adjutor) bishops-elect from the Dioceses of Texas, West Texas, and Eastern Michigan, in addition to the one we held yesterday for the bishop-elect of Albany. If you want to read more about consenting to the election of bishops and my committee's work, the Episcopal News Service has posted a story online. I also participated in my first press briefing responsibility today. If you want to see the pictures of the briefing, go here. I will do that two other times during convention. It was very hum-drum today, since our business was very pro forma and procedural and....boring. We were visited by the Archbishop of York, however, whose picture I've posted. He gave us both a wonderful story and testimony but also a message from the Archbishop of Canterbury on the ABC's behalf. Read the transcript if you have time. Some are saying it is the ABC's way of distancing himself from us while still trying to influence our deliberations. I just don't know how much spin the thing will take, but I betcha it will be dizzy before long!!! Aren't the flags beautiful? George Werner, our Presiding officer in the House of Deputies, has made a special point of reminding us we are not a "national" church but rather an international body, with 16 participating affiliated communing member nations. Each one has a flag hanging to represent it and serve to remind us. Haiti's is outdated, we were told, but we're getting that corrected. The first picture you see is the end of my day, the U2charist kicking off the amazing in-depth work of the Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation for the time we're here. It was a great worshipping experience, with people singing and praying with much enthusiasm, seeming more relaxed than other worship experiences I've attended so far. There was heavy energy in the air, and if I hadn't been so exhausted and so late due to my committee's hearings, I would have put my hands in the air. People are geared up, not just for Bono's music but to participate in eradicating poverty and AIDS and be a voice for change in our Church and in the world. We passed around commitment cards and spoke of the things each one of us can do. It was a revival, but we were getting saved in a different way -- we were asking ourselves and each other to reach out to the rest of the world. We prayed not only for personal salvation but for transformation of the deepest hurts of God's Creation as well. It was a very encouraging thing - and tired as I was I left with great hope for the Church. People of many generations and of dioceses of widely divergent reputations attended and sang and prayed together. Eradicating poverty is not controversial - it is something we can get behind as those who love God and those made by God. I think it is also a very Anglican way of saying -- let's heal each other by getting together on this (MDG's, One Campaign, global reconciliation). Matt just arrived so we're going to catch up and I leave it at that. Tomorrow I have 7:30 committee hearing on the bishop-elect of California, then Eucharist, then legislative session, lunch, my last committee hearing and wrap-up of committee work, legislative session, and tomorrow night is the Special Committee 26's hearing on several resolutions pertaining to the Windsor Report, sexuality, and the Anglican Communion. Another long day but another day to look forward to again.

I also recommend reading the reflections of my fellow deputies of Kansas. We are a motley crew this year and I'm really enjoying what each of them brings. We have had a lot of laughs so far!

12 June 2006

General Notes Part 4

This afternoon we had a very long orientation session and it was, I confess, a little guiltily uplifting for me since I know the ropes by now on voting, testifying, the path of legislation, etc. I wished i would have brought my knitting for sure and won't be leaving home without it anytime soon. We did share our stories with our table groups, though, which was a great experience. Telling our stories is a huge step forward from "tell us your top 5 reachable goals for mission in 8 minutes" or some other assinine "professional" BS. Telling each other our stories, when it transforms us, is more amazing than any 10-point plan.

Dinner with deputation was a treat - got to wrap with a fellow deputy about interiority and young adults, non-duality, and integration. Very esoterically delightful. I'm so glad he and Matt will get this opportunity to spend time together again. They're practically in orbit together...around what i do not know. But when matt arrives tomorrow we'll find out.

Then I met up with seminary friends and later attended a gathering of young adults - deputies, Episcopal Peace Fellowship people, Young Adult gathering, and many other visitors. It was more fun this time for me than in 2003 because I actually knew some people and didn't have to stand by myself. Consequently I made a point to meet as many new people as possible, too, and there were many to meet!

Then we walked each other to our hotel rooms and I'm dead tired. Tomorrow my committee's hearings begin at 7:30 so I'm long overdue for beddy-bye. It was a great day of many friends arriving in town and getting situated further into the space, atmosphere, and community of General Convention. I'm hopeful for our time together here. Now if I could just factor in some more time for sleep -- !

General Notes Part 3

y hotel here at the Convention is right across the street from the capitol building. Today, there are 2492 pairs of boots on the lawn in front of the capitol. Each pair of boots is labeled with the name of a soldier who had died in the Iraq war. They are in rows and separated according to which state they were from. it is an incredible sight, and it halted me as i was walking from the convention center to my hotel for lunch. The boots stretch across the whole lawn, and it is easy to imagine each pair of boots filled with the feet of soldiers, standing en masse -- the dead of this war. It was so overwhelming. Read about the project, called Eyes Wide Open, here.

Since we Episcopalians are here from every state (and many other countries), we can find our own state's section of boots and walk through the maze and read the names. Many people have placed flowers in certain pairs of boots; some have placed pictures or notes. In the middle, there is another group of shoes, representing Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives. These shoes are also overwhelming, since there are many pairs of shoes for the very very young and the very old. The soldiers shoes are almost all my age -- these were my classmates, my friends in childhood. They are the friends of my husband and the friends of our friends and families. And there were so, so many.

As I left the lawn in tears, I came across a
demonstration for worker's rights and fair salaries in front of the mall attached to my hotel. The carpenters and laborers are demonstrating at several places in town against poor wages for construction-related labor. As I sit here in my room now reading over legislation and eating my cheese sandwich, I have felt more than in 2000 or 2003 a deep connection to the goings-on of the place where we are. The more we can be aware the better. Otherwise, we're just another convention, doing business.

11 June 2006

General Notes Part 2

I couldn't get to sleep at all last night -- perhaps from excitement but perhaps from the three hour time difference. So, the 10:15 (read: 7:30 West Coast time) lobby meeting time came early. By the way, Heat is not a movie I'll ever watch again.

Going to church with all the other deputies who were streaming in to Columbus was interesting. There was a little celebrity-spotting atmosphere in the air that I found amusing and made me want to make a mocumentary about celebrities: the real inner lives about famous Episcopalians. People were saying: Oh, there's that ONE bishop who's running for PB over there. Oh! There's so-and-so, YOU know, over there. Amusing, and yes, I participated.

One of the great things about General Convention is that many people come for m
any reasons other than to do convention business. Vendors and church-business set up their wares and services in booths in the exhibit hall. From vestments to Isreali wood-carvings to missionary agencies to AA to software developers to iconographers to the live music of the youth band of Southern Ohio -- it's in there. And everyone gives out food goodies, a plus for sure. People WILL try to hand you literature on everything you never wanted to have literature on, though, so be careful and look ahead if you don't want to tote home the entire contents of the Cursillo raison-d'etre and schedule of events. (But, no thanks, I've never been to Cursillo....no really, I'll tell people the booth is here.....oh, ok, thanks for the notebook!)

Other events take place simultaneously to convention, too, like the trienniel meeting of the Episcopal Church Women, and until this year, a weeklong convention of the Daughters of the King. Members of the Anglican Global Office are in town, too, and the delegation and bishop from Liberia came and worshipped at Trinity where there is a Liberian clergyperson and an ongoing relationship of friendship between the two. They came up to the front of
the packed church and the Trinity staff person spoke about what the people of Liberia have gone through and how exciting it is that they are here. People started shuffling when the introduction and speaking became long, and that counts as my second amusing experience of the day. It was clearly a snapshot of a cultural difference -- all the white people looking at their watches, wondering when this "announcement" was going to be over, and the Liberian clergy and delegation rejoicing to be present and together where they were.

And it was Trinity Sunday, and the preacher did a great job talking about the Trinity as relationship, as friendship and urging us to put aside our own differences and be friends at convention. Great message at a great time. You could feel the energy in the room as he spoke. We were all gearing up for the good juicy fight scenes that Convention promises us. He tapped into our anticipation and I was glad to hear it named so I could be convicted about it. Plus he made quite a few historical references and I felt like Church History 1 and 2 were mighty relevant for somewhere other than our own seminary chapel! It was a relief. :)

We wandered around the convention center, each of us seeing people we knew and hugging and catching up. We registered and mapped out how long it was going to take us to get places, grabbed some lunch and wandered some more. I was starting to need a break and retreated to the hotel for awhile and began reading the resolutions that will continue to pile up throughout the convention. We took a long hike north for dinner, went grocery shopping, and then picked up our student intern at the airport. That's right, we get someone to help us get things handled and run smoothly! I think technically he is here to help our bishop, but surely we can snag him for some non-bishoply tasks. There is just so little time when the schedule gets going; I'm already dreaming of the ways he can help. :) And it's lucky because he is an old friend whom I haven't been able to talk with in a long time so hopefully we'll get to catch up. He's in love, for starters!

Committee work begins at 8 am tomorrow - so I'm overdue for bed!

10 June 2006

General Notes Part 1

OK - let's see how much General Convention coverage you can get from here. I'm posting from Columbus, Ohio, the site of the 75th Episcopal General Convention, our every-three-years meeting for church bid-niss. I'm here in my Columbus hotel room - with a view of the city. My TMobile wireless account is set up so I plan to update as regularly as time allows. Met up with some members of my deputation for dinner. My two calendars, official and unofficial, are filling up quickly. Losing three hours coming to Ohio was strange - i got on the plane at 9am and off at 4pm. Now I'm moved in and taking it all in, spending a lot of time praying and tapping in to all those everywhere who are praying from home and work.

Haven't timed the hike to the covention center yet but my fellow deputies are all in a twitter with the one mile distance. I think it will be a good hike. Tomorrow I'll try to stock up on breakfast and snack goodies, go to church at Trinity right down the street, and maybe pick up our intern at the airport. Some people start committee work tomorrow but not me - I don't start until Monday morning.

I'm going to watch Austin Power and try to fall asleep.

05 June 2006

General Convention - another reporter?

The Episcopal Big Meeting is coming up in one week and I'm wondering if I should post updates on the days here on the blog or send out a mass email. Post a comment with your opinion. So far I know I'm working with the Consecration of Bishops committee, being a media briefer, and doing some thing for Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. I'm going to an Episcopal Women's Caucus breakfast, the Young Adults reception and get-together, and attending a U2charist. I'll probably be presenting a video on Miqra, presenting with the Presiding Bishop Nominating Committee our nominees for the next PB, and loitering at the CDSP table and events. Sure, I'll have time to blog. Why not! :)

In other news I got really sick at the end of Matt's parents visit and now I can't smell or taste and have no energy and a really hideous cough.

I have watched 5 movies in the last 2 days.

Also check out the Octave of Prayer tomorrow on the Episcopal General Convention website for a familiar face. Yeee- ow!