Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Convention Day One: The Boring Convention?

Two immediate impressions of the first day of legislative business at Convention:

1. There appear to be fewer people here than in 2003 and

2. The energy level is way low: so much for the much touted stress and tension.

Everyone seemed to think that the focus of attention would be on the Special Committee on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion and, while the Committee hearings are drawing larger crowds than most, only 15 people signed up to testify regarding the first resolution under consideration: A159: Commitment to Interdependence in the Anglican Communion. This is a "no-brainer" resolution that essentially says, "Yes, we really, really want to continue to be Anglicans." Everyone agrees, yet the Committee still took two hours to tinker with deleting a modifier here, working out just which interim body should be charged with deciding a process for inviting international represtentatives to attend meetings there.

I wonder if the "reasserters" are loosing heart, having determined that the Episcopal Church will not turn back the clock on LGBT issues. One rumor today has it that once the conservatives in the House of Bishops realize that they don't have the votes to elect one of their own Presiding Bishop, they will cast their votes for the Rt. Rev. Katherine Jefferts-Schori in a cynical ploy to then declare that they now have a legitimate reason for schism. While I doubt that even Bishop Robert Duncan is that cynical (or smart), the misogny of it all does ring true. Prick a homophobe and they bleed sexism.

Meanwhile, the Convention continues with the less glamorous Gospel work of opposing torture, calling for universal health care, and supporting implementation of the U.N. Millenium Development Goals. One interesting event in the House of Deputies was the address given by the Most Rev. John Sentamu, Archbishop of York. In addition to his own gracious remarks, he read a message from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Clearly, the eyes of the Anglican Communion are upon us, but I suspect those eyes aren't as uniformly critical as we've been made to believe. Our Church will be the first Province of the Anglican Communion to respond to the Windsor Report, and I believe that many Provinces would be happy to see us dissent from certain of the Report's recommendations, or receive them with caution. Does anyone really want an Anglican curia? As the Integrity sticker many of us are wearing says: "Communion: Yes, Uniformity: No."

The highlight of the day was the premiere of Claiming the Blessing's new video: "Voices of Witness." About 75 people, including the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson and the president of the Human Rights Campaign, were in attendance at Trinity Church. The audience laughed, cried, and rejoiced over this powerful witness to the lives and ministries of lesbian and gay people in the Episcopal Church. Free DVDs will be available at Convention at the CTB booth beginning Friday, and will be made available throughout the Church.

One event to look forward to tomorrow morning: The Committee on Consents will hold its hearing regarding the election of the Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus as bishop-elect of California. This is one more step along the road to joyfully installing the 8th. bishop of California on July 22.

No comments: