Wednesday, July 8, 2009
And away we go!
With respect to the passing of pop star Michael Jackson, his public memorial service was not the only “big” event in California today...though I’m sure it got more press time. About an hour southeast of Los Angeles the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church was gearing up for business to start officially on Wednesday July 8th. Today legislative committee hearings began at 8:00 a.m. including Program, Budget, and Finance on which our own bishop, Mark Hollingsworth, Jr. sits as a member. At Noon the exhibits and vendors center opened with drumming offered by a group of children who represented a rainbow of diversity with regard to age and heritage. Our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori and the President of the House of Deputies, Dr Bonnie Anderson made a joint presentation to bishops and deputies alike. Bishop Jefferts Schori acknowledged that we are facing many crises and that we, as a church community, have an opportunity to choose which way to go. She also said very clearly that we will fail as a community of faith if we choose “business as ususal.” Dr. Anderson reminded us that the General Convention is “rooted in the promise of Jesus to always be with us. Indeed God is present and can be known in convention and committee as well as in the church committee.” She served as chief cheerleader by explaining that this 76th General Convention is ready to build upon the work of the 75 General Conventions past. She posted that over 50% of the 7000 congregations which make up our church have embraced the Millennium Development Goals as mission operatives and 82 diocese have pledged 0.7% of their diocesan budgets to the MDG’s. She applauded that many people and dioceses are responding and then she challenged us, “Many are responding but what if WE ALL responded..as if our life depended on it?”
We are going to be engaging in a series of mission conversations over the next nine days. And, we going to be using a system set up which will give us some experience with the art of public narrative. Our facilitator was clear that this is not an agenda item but a methodology for each person to tell and hear her/his story as linked together. The theme of this General convention is Ubuntu which is a sub-Saharan word/philosphy/theology which basically states: I am because we are and because we are I am. In other words, our identity is tied up in our relationship with others. The Rev. Michael Battle, who has written a small book on this concept, addressed the House of Deputies for our orientation session at 4 p.m. Our very own Gay Jennings also had a hand in orienting the House of Deputies for our business. Her committee walked us through parliamentary procedure with a delightfully humorous and fictitious resolution about the need for deputations to adopt mascots from among the many Disney characters next door. At the end of the day many members of the Ohio deputation, Bishop Hollingsworth and Bishop Arthur and Lynette Williams attended a reception sponsored by the Chicago Consultation. The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori was also at this reception and several members of our deputation had an opportunity to meet and greet her. At 7 p.m. a second set of Legislative committees met. As they were ending around 9 p.m. the fireworks in Disney Land were just getting started and lit up the evening sky here in Anaheim. The stage is set. Everything is in order. Tomorrow our work begins with a meeting of the Ohio deputation at 6 a.m. before the first round of legislative sessions kicks off at 8 a.m. Keep those prayers and kind thoughts coming!
Brian K. Wilbert
C2 from Ohio