Day 8 of General Convention
DAY ONE of the Future
August 6, 2003
8:00 - I awakened this morning.
Well, thats about all I could say. when I woke up. I still felt depressed from yesterdays mess. To top it off, as I awakened the radio was playing a disco song from the 70s, "Working My Way Back To You" by the Spinners. I never liked disco. Then or now.
As I was getting ready, I begin to get convicted about my attitude. God gives me an attitude adjustment from time to time, and He was doing it now. I thought of Chris Warner (one of our rectors at Holy Cross). Chris had written me yesterday asking me what propers I would be using for this Sundays sermon. In his email he mentioned about how powerfully the Holy SpSirit moved at last Sundays services at Holy Cross. I wrote him back a brief note. I totally ignored his good news about God at work in the power of His Spirit.
All of a sudden a verse popped into my head "But you have not been given a spirit of timidity, you have been given a spirit of power!" Thats 2 Timothy 1:7: "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline."
It occurred to me that I had forgotten a couple of key points in my pity party. Point #1 Gods in charge. These folks havent done this to MY church, theyre trying to do this to Gods Church. This has not been done to me. Theyve done this to God. Point #2 - My diocese is not part of this. In the Diocese of SC we remain faithful to the faith once delivered to the Apostles. And at Holy Cross were booming and the Holy Spirit is moving. Point #3 - in two days, Im going home! Yeah!
I got the sense that I was to hold my head high and tell whomever would listen that this is DAY ONE. This is a new day, and Im not going to be a part of that old stuff. I reject what happen yesterday and I will not consider this novelty to have any validity. Ill let God deal with the apostates. Its His church they are trying to take away not mine! God did not give me a spirit of timidity, but power! Love! Self-discipline!
So Im not going to play their game! The importance of General Convention in my life, and in the lives of the Church of the Holy Cross, and I believe in the lives of the Diocese of South Carolina, ended yesterday. Forgetting what is past, Im going to be pressing on to the goal that is ahead. Im moving on to the future. This is a new day a new beginning. This is the first day after General Convention.
As I was considering that, the phone rang It was my daughter. She just passed her driving test and now has her drivers license, and she wanted me to know. Now thats wonderful! Her mom - my wife - was in the car with her -They were on their way back home after having been to the Department of Motor Vehicles. As I spoke to Syl, I told her about the message I got. She reminded me that that passage was written in the Bible that Bishop Allison gave me back at my beginning at my ordination to the diaconate. Oh yes! This is a new day. Welcome to Day One!
[And a side note to a recently-ordained deacon who emailed me yesterday and said, "Its a tough time to begin ministry, isnt it." No, its a great time! God has ORDAINED you to go and work in his field. And if God orders it, you cant loose! The field is the world. The harvest is plentiful. This is day one. Our great days are just beginning. You wait and see.]
As if I needed any further confirmation, when I arrived at the Forward in Faith worship, the place was overpacked!
You are looking at the reception area, outside the chapel there were at least 100 people standing and singing to the Glory of God in this area. Behind them, in another area, were about 50 more.
Inside the chapel there was not room for anybody else.
So I crammed myself in and made room where there wasnt any! Up in the sanctuary, there were 15 or more vested bishops. In the congregation there were 15 more.
This was a foretaste of heaven and could well be a glimpse of whats to come in our near future. This is the church.
Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh gave a sermon on the Transfiguration, and he spoke of what we need to do to move forward from here to move Forward In Faith.
I left that worship charged and fully armored for Gods service. As I walked into the Convention hall, I found myself singing, "Im working my way back to you, Lord!" (I still dont care for disco.)
Day 8 of the old Convention.
Im proud to say that we are all here. Were not going anywhere.
After the opening prayer and housekeeping, Gene Robinson and the delegation from New Hampshire were introduced. I didnt get a picture of this, because I couldnt bear to look. I (and the South Carolina delegation) remained seated and had our heads bowed. I prayed while the cheers and applauding went on. We didnt do this out of anger or protest. I believe I can speak for us and say that we did it out of respect for the Bible and the Church catholic.
When the New Hampshire delegation left the podium, Kendall Harmon was called upon to read a statement. The statement said, in part, that we reject this action and we disassociate ourselves from it. The Holy Spirit moved in a mighty way as Kendall spoke and people began to get up from delegations and join us at the microphone. About 50 maybe more came and stood around the microphone. I didnt get a picture of this either, because I was standing directly behind Dr. Harmon. The full text of what he said including all the extra additions not included in his press release can be found here.
Following the reading of statement, scores of people came to our delegation table and signed the statement.
Diocese of Dallas got up for a point of Personal privilege, to announce that deputy David Rosenbury (Christ Church, Plano) resigned and left the convention. He hasnt left the Episcopal Church, but he is going home. The delegation head seemed surprised that this would happen.
A deputy from Honduras, Oscar Lopez, got up for a point of personal privilege and blasted this house. He said we sold our birthright. He said he is a dean over 52 missions - And because of this Robinson issue, he doesnt know what will remain. Hes been a member of this convention for 27 years, and now now all of it is gone down the drain. Those were his words.
George Conger had a good quote: The mechanics of Gene Robinson are over. The consequences are only beginning.
President Werner said it would be best if we discontinued personal privileges and move on to business. He said this would help us begin to heal. Move on, we did. There is an elephant in our living room, and the House seemed all too ready to move into the "Elephant? What elephant?" mode.
Kendall went out and spoke to the press about what he had said. In the midst of his explanation, Susan Russell of Claiming the Blessing interrupted Kendall and took over his interview. The press began directing their questions to her. This is what we face. This is where we live at least for the moment.
At a break, Bob Sesum, the Chair of Lexington, came up, shook my hand, and said, "I just want you in South Carolina to know that we recognize that you are hurting. May God be with you." I thanked him, and said, "God bless you." That was a nice thing for him to do. This is the church of our future.
The images today were random I couldnt figure a theme. The song accompanying the slides used a flute. The song was played so loudly that the flute resonated at the sensitive part of my hearing. I ended up having to cover my ears.
Our prayers for the people were a set of petitions read by the children who made them up. We prayed for children, we prayed for mommy and daddy, we prayed for people not to be bad or harm our earth, and we prayed for stuffed teddy bears. Oh, we did!
The chaplains meditation mentioned the Transfiguration. But his theme focused on "Who do you say that I am?"
As we always do, we went to the AAC for lunch. We shared our table with a reporter/photographer from the New York Times.
In todays meditation, Doug McGlynn began with the words "Who do you say that I am." And went from that to Peters confession. He focused on four of five words that Jesus said in reply to Peter I Will Build My Church.
So in the homilies Ive had today, we began with the Transfiguration, moved to Peters confession following the Transfiguration, and then moved to Jesus reply to Peter. One continuous thread. Interesting. I always like to say that there are no co-incidences in life. They are all God-instances.
I will build my church. - God will do the building. Not you.
I WILL build my church. A thousand councils have come and gone and Jesus is still Lord.
I will BUILD my church. - When this latest novelty has come and gone God will still be growing his church. And Gods church will still be growing.
I will build MY church. The church is His. Its not mine.
And speaking of God-instances, Doug must have been listening in when God was dealing with me this morning. In his summary, Fr. McGlynn had this to say.
There are two ways of looking at what is happening to us:
- They have taken my church away from me.
- They are taking a portion of Gods Church away from Him.
If we allow our resources to be focused on #1, our response will be reactive.
If we allow our resources to be focused on #2, our response will be Godly.
After the AAC meeting, Kendall and others has ashes applied to their foreheads as a symbol of their sorrow and repentance.
The New York Times was, of course, right there.
In the afternoon legislative session, we began with a joint bishops/deputies meeting to hear the presentation of the new budget for the next three years. Its smaller the previous budget. And Im wondering if it might get a lot smaller before all this is done. After the presentation we paused and we all had our picture taken. Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting the South Carolina General Convention Delegation:
When we continued legislation we stated our opposition to harmful chemicals, our solidarity with Palestinians, our quest for peace, and on and on. After two hours of this, my lack of sleep from last night begin to start interacting with my mononucleosis. I had to leave and lie down. While I was gone, we continued on in vain, in the same vain.
I wish Id been there for this
We were discussing a resolution expressing our sympathy to women in Afghanistan. The presenter of the resolution suggested we send them greetings and refer them to some Episcopal Church websites on womens issues. Wade Logan got up and said that in recent days wed had enough difficulties with websites and he said the last thing we needed was another uninvestigated web link. Wade said if looks could kill the presenter would have mowed him down!
After the session, we learned that the House of Bishops dealt with the single substitute resolution for the four same-sex resolutions that originally existed. The bishops struck the provision calling for the development of rites of same-sex blessings, and sent the rest of it to the House of Deputies for our consideration (probably tomorrow Thursday). What remains is pretty much a rehash of D039 which was passed in Denver. By the way our bishops voted against the resolution anyway.
This evening some of us joined the bishops and went to eat at Pings a very nice Szechuan Oriental restaurant.
I am still full even 4 hours later. And since I havent published these before, heres a couple of other pictures of other dining times together.
Thats it from Day One.
Goodnight from Minneapolis. See you tomorrow.