Thursday, July 12, 2012

Important Take-Aways from General Convention

Well, here we are at the end of our last day of General Convention.

There are some things to understand that we take away from here that passed both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies voted:
  • to provide a rite for provisional use for the blessing of same-sex unions. You should know that there is language in this resolution that allows Bishops and priests NOT to offer this rite in their congregations if they feel that they do not want to do so. For those who DO want to offer this rite, it will be available. 
  • a budget that is focused on the Five Marks of Mission -- it is a mission oriented budget, with more monies being funneled into program than in prior budgets.  
  • to create a group to study the structure of our Church and to make recommendations as to how we can improve how we work together to the glory of God.This is VERY important work, and a move on the part of the church to look at all aspects of our life together.
  • we talked extensively once again and passed resolutions that talk about justice and equality for ALL persons, and which dealt with access to ordination, fair wages, our denominational health plan, and the environment. This convention once again looked at issues where anyone is marginalized and shed light on the situation, calling for an end to any injustice.
  • to approve rites for dealing with the adoption, care or death of pets. As a pet owner myself, I understand the importance of the rites offered here -- they will be available for use, and the language is beautiful.
There have been laughs and tears during this convention. You may have read that part of the deputation from South Carolina left the day after both houses passed the same-sex blessing resolution. I will share with you that their bishop left also, which saddened me greatly. Their voices are greatly needed at the table -- and even with the provision that "you don't have to do this" -- they still felt that they needed to leave to think and pray about this.I am praying for them all -- and for everyone involved in this convention.

Bishop Sean Rowe is a friend and favorite of mine. He is witty and smart, and consistently steady in his work as Parliamentarian. I admire him greatly.

I have this shot of the dais and the flags behind it --  you can see this below.

It has been the most amazing time here. The "five marks of mission" were talked about in many of our works together. At the end, five Bishops who just so happen to be named MARK came up with a song to "mark" the occasion:

Five Marks of Mission
(to the tune of “We all are one in mission…”)

We are five Marks of mission, though not all spelled the same;
The Good News of the Kingdom to all we proudly proclaim.
We teach, baptize, and nurture believers new and old,
By loving service responding to human needs untold.

Society's unjust structures, we five seek to transform.
From New York to Alaska, we labor for the Lord.
In dioceses from coast to coast and ’cross the great Midwest, 
We are Marks of God's mission, seeking to do our best.

Integrity of creation, we're striving to safeguard;
To sustain Earth's life and renew it, we five are working hard.
We disagree on many things, but of this we are sure:
We are five Mark's of mission, committed to the core.

If you feel that God's mission is calling out to you,
Marked as Christ's own forever, there's plenty you can do.
We have five marks to guide our work, to keep our efforts true;
We are five Marks of mission, and surely you are one, too.

 Performed by: The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr. (Ohio)
                        The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk (New York)
                        The Rt. Rev. Mark A. Lattime (Alaska)
                        The Rt. Rev. Mark M. Beckwith (Newark)
                        The Rt. Rev. Marc H. Andrus (California)

Words:             The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
 A short snippet of the video of this event can be found here.

The closing prayers by our chaplains were, as always, appropriate and wonderful -- here is the text of the closing Litany from Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero:

It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying 
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confessions brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about: We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything 
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do  something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the different between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

It was a long convention in many ways, although shorter in time than the last. I leave you with a  picture of the dais and the flags of all the countries represented at our General Convention below. I am very tired, but happy to have been here and been part of the House of Bishops for this important time in the life of our church.

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