Monday, July 13, 2009

General Convention, Day Six and Reflections

As promised, reflections on Day Six (the morning of...) has waited until I returned home. This also happens to be the 100th posting on this blog, for what that is worth.

I managed to check out of my hotel and get myself to the convention center in time for the UTO Ingathering Eucharist. As with all of the Community Eucharists, it was an impressive combination of pageantry and song, as well as participation from thousands of members of the congregation. When one needs 144 Eucharistic Ministers, you know that you have a large congregation! It as also an opportunity for our Presiding Bishop to remind us what all of us, deputies, bishops, and visitors alike, have the opportunity to carry home with us. Having just packed up and checked out of my hotel, these words resonated with me: ""When you leave this place, how much more stuff will you have than when you arrived? You can ship the papers home, but are you open enough to receive what is offered here – from the housekeeper in your hotel room, the deputy across the aisle, an international or ecumenical visitor, or the person who beats you to the microphone?"

I was not there for the now infamous D025 debate, but what struck me most about the resolution itself was that it simply re-connects General Convention with the reality of individual, congregational, and diocesan life in most of the Episcopal Church. It says nothing other than that we commit to both continued membership and engagement with the rest of the Anglican Communion as well as honoring our own process and polity. Not as much as progressives would have liked, more than conservatives would have preferred: perhaps the via media at its best.

I suppose that the big question I have coming out of General Convention (while knowing that it is still going on. As I write this, both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops are scheduled to be in session) is this: How do we bridge the chasm between what goes on at General Convention and the realities of individual, congregational, and diocesan life? At General Convention I saw a worldwide church, proud to be who it is, and moving forward in mission and ministry, even amongst challenge and conflict. At an individual, congregatioanl and diocesan level, I see little of that international focus, little mission focus, and more than a little anxiety about what tomorrow will bring. It will be my task, and that of others who attended General Convention this year, to bridge that gap--to bring the optomism of General Convention to the person-in-the-pew and to bring his or her concerns to the next General Conveniton in 2012.

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