Monday, July 13, 2009

Breathe on us Breath of God...

Well, I certainly didn’t plan to spend the first five days of this General Convention hacking and coughing but alas that is precisely what has happened. I’m grateful that the Rev. Greg Sammons (our first clergy alternate) and the Rev. Peg Sammons made the journey out here for the weekend. Greg and I switched places for the afternoon session on Saturday July 11th so that I could find an Urgent Care Center and he could have some “floor time” as a deputy. It was a win/win endeavor! I got some heavy duty meds (antibiotics and a cough suppressant with just a hint of codine to help me get some sleep) and Greg spent the afternoon with the Ohio deputation hearing wonderful reports from a variety of international visitors, voting on resolutions and participating in the second ballot for Church Pension Fund Trustee. By-the-way, congratulations are in order for Dean Tracey Lind from Trinity Cathedral who was elected to a term as Church Pension Fund Trustee and to our own Bishop Mark Hollingsworth who was elected to a term on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church! Our Ohio GC volunteer pool expanded to include David Bargetzi, Yorki Encalada and Peg Sammons over the past two days.

The pace has definitely picked up in the last 48 hours with a flurry of legislation and reports coming before us. Our own Gay Jennings has been going not stop with the World Missions Committee. This is the committee that was charged with the task of dealing with resolutions responding to Resolution B033 from the GC2006 meeting in Columbus. After holding a variety of open hearings, and listening to both civil discourse and civil debate in a meeting of the House of Deputies as a “committee of the whole,” the World Missions Committee presented Resolution D025 which came before the House of Deputies this afternoon, July 12th. D025 essentially intends to:

  • Reaffirm our commitment to the Anglican Communion
  • State our desire to remain in the highest degree of communion with other Anglican provinces
  • Pledge to participate in contributing to the Communion budget
  • Remind the church of the relationship values established in 2000-D039
  • Recognize the response of LGBT Episcopalians to God’s call to service
  • Affirm that God has called and may call partnered gay and lesbian people to any ordained ministry and that their call will be tested by the discernment process provided for in our canons
  • Acknowledge that we are not all of one mind about this.
It was requested that the vote on this resolution be taken “by orders” and that the deputations be polled meaning that the vote is counted by deputation and not by the total number of deputies. This is perhaps the most conservative way to vote in our convention. Each member of each order, lay and ordained is polled by the chair of the deputation who in our case is the Rev. Gay Jennings. If all four members of each order vote yes or no then the vote is counted as two yes or two no votes. If 3 out of 4 members of each order votes yes or no then, by majority, the vote is counted as two yes or two no votes. However, if the members of each order split their votes, 2 yes and 2 no, then the vote is registered as a “split” vote and is counted as a “no” vote.

In a special session today, the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church approved Resolution D025, 151 votes to 66 votes. In the Lay Order 50 votes were needed in order for the resolution to pass. In the Lay Order 77 deputations voted yes and 31 deputations voted no. In the Clergy Order 49 votes were needed to pass. In the Clergy order 74 deputations voted yes and 35 deputations voted no. So, Resolution D025 passed and the resolution now goes to the House of Bishops.
Today’s Community Eucharist included the ingathering of the United Thank Offering and our Diocesan ECW UTO Chair, Susan Lau represented the Diocese of Ohio well. Today’s Eucharist was also historic in that our current Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori was joined by former Presiding Bishop’s Edmund Lee Browning and Frank Tracy Griswold. All bishops were invited to vest and process and in recent years, the bishops sit among the rest of the gathered community. Yorki and I could see Bishop Mark and Bishop Arthur from our seats about 15 rows from the front of the worship space. Our neighbor, Bishop Tom Breidenthal from the Diocese of Southern, Ohio sat in the same row of chairs as Yorki and me. I would estimate that perhaps as many as 2500 people were present for this morning’s Eucharist. From my perspective this was church at our best with a wonderfully diverse group of people, singing, praying, breaking bread and being fed in word and sacrament for the work we have to do as the wider Episcopal Church family. After the Eucharist several members of our deputation attended a luncheon sponsored by the Chicago Consultation and after our afternoon legislation session, there was an event sponsored by the Episcopal Church Women billed as an evening with Elizabeth von Trapp who is a descendant of the musical von Trapp family. It was a fund raiser for Jericho House in New Orleans and happily it was a very well attended event. Tomorrow begins several days of regular legislative sessions which run from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. There are many many resolutions yet to come and a joint session of the two houses for a presentation by the Program, Finance and Budget Committee.

Onward and upward we go! I'm breathing easier, coughing less, and conscious that God's Holy Spirit is breathing on us as we go about our work. Please keep us and our work in your prayers every day!

Brian K. Wilbert
C2 from Ohio

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