Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday--big day

It is late on a big day in Indy, so I hope to put down a few thoughts quickly.  Today's worship was almost entirely in Spanish--even the music and parts of the homily.  It was lovely and moving and certainly works in a subtle (?) way to make me aware of what it is like for others who are often on the fringes, not understanding language or customs of the majority.   Again, the theme was about taking courage, to not be afraid, to step out so that we can (like Bartolome de las Casas, whose feast day it is) work for the end of oppression and injustice.  Our first responsibility as Christians is to proclaim God's love; our privilege as Episcopalians is being part of a church where there is a generous ambiguity and lack of dogmatism so that all may grow and think as individuals.  Our part in that is to tell our story of God's love and mercy towards us so that others may also find their way home.

Today was marked with some heavy lifting as several of the big issues made their way to the floor.  It seemed very good to me that these resolutions came forth before the last day so that there was adequate time for debate (and the parliamentary maneuvering that is inevitable).  Significantly, we voted to establish a task force to focus on the structure/restructuring of the Church, the way we do business and the way we do mission. The resolution calls for a select group who are not part of the entrenched establishment to listen, pray, think, research in preparation for a consultation that involves a broad spectrum of members (bishop, clergy, lay and youth/young adults).  I think that All will really mean All as this intentionally non-named group does its work.  The bishops will take up this resolution tomorrow.

The Anglican Covenant which has been under much discussion and attack for the last triennium came to a vote in both houses.  We affirm that we want to remain with others in the Anglican Communion, but that we are not affirming the covenant at this time. How that will work out practically remains to be seen.

The third big issue was approval of liturgies for the blessing of same-sex unions.  After many, many years of debate, discussion and disappointment, the tipping point came.  Many young people spoke of the church they hoped we could be and the church they needed; some old people spoke of long, faithful relationships which could now be celebrated publicly; some spoke of the hard work of theologizing, gathering liturgies, listening deeply on all sides.  Surely, there were some who remain unsure, but voted as the Spirit led them; others voted with tears of joy and others with tears of sadness that the old way was passing away and that the new was being raised up.  I was particularly touched by the assurance given in the resolution that there is room for the ,conscience of those who disagree' that no one is forced to offer these rites and that no one will suffer disciplinary action for  refusal.  In all cases approval of the bishop will be required as congregations and clergy work together to bring this resolution to fruition.  At the end of the vote there was no sense of triumphalist victory.

And then our deputation and the Wyoming women who are attending the Triennial Meeting  had a terrific time of fun and fellowship at St. Elmo's, a famous Indy steakhouse.  Great food in great abundance, lots of laughter (not only with us, but with many other conventioneers) and a moment of rest and recuperation in preparation for the next two days in which many more resolutions will make their way to our consideration.  I am very pleased and proud to be a part of this group of thoughtful, insightful and caring brothers and sisters in Christ who exemplify their faith, hope and love in their discussions, prayer and votes.

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