Sunday, July 12, 2009

Episcopal Church in Convention

I am so proud of my Church!

This time I am speaking of TEC, The Episcopal Church in the United States, which is meeting in General Convention this week in Anaheim, California. General Convention is the national legislative meeting of Episcopalians, held every third year. This is where the business of the church is carried out, where big decisions are made -- describing who can be ordained, adding contemporary and inclusive language to liturgy, rebuilding the list of "Holy Men, Holy Women" who are remembered annually in what we used to call "Lesser Feasts and Fasts" .

I am touched by the tokens of love and support from other delegations toward the four dioceses which are regrowing after hugely divisive splits -- especially as reported by friends from the Diocese of San Joaquin. I am impressed that the Bishops of those dioceses have declined to speak about their time with the Archbishop of Canterbury, preserving the deeply personal nature of those conversations. I am intrigued that the Presiding Bishop has chosen a Bantu (from South Africa) word, Ubuntu, as the theme of the 2009 convention. Ubuntu? Bishop Desmond Tutu said in 1999, "A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed." Sounds a lot like the Hawaiian concept of pono.

This year, in addition to the widely publicized discussion on the criteria for election and ordination of bishops, between discussions of budget priorities and a new emphasis on electronic (as opposed to traditional print) communications, delegates are considering the adding a special liturgy for use at the death of service animals and special pets. As a pet lover, I am touched.

In a sidebar advert at Episcopal Life online, I found the theme of the 2010 Trinity Institute -- Building an Ethical Economy: Theology and the Marketplace. Theology in the economic marketplace? What a refreshing change from the self-centered What's-in-it-for-me? view that has helped to create our current economic chaos! And this from one of the premiere continuing education programs in the Episcopal Church....

Give thanks for the attitude of listening, the honoring of differences between delegates we are seeing in the news from General Convention. Give thanks for those International Representatives who came to learn, who were surprised at what they found, and who go home to share their new understanding. Practice listening. Don't forget to pray!

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