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Day 7 and 8

I fear I have acquired the stomach bug going around GC. I was in bed early last night trying to summon all the will power I have to fight this off. This morning I made it to the early session and Eucharist but have let alternate deputy Margaret Ayers take my place for the final session.
Some random observations, and I apologize if this skips around too much:

I am extremely pleased over the structural reform momentum. Unfortunately a resolution to disband ALL Standing Committees except Constitution and Canons and Structure of the Church, in order to give the reform task force a clean slate, failed after much debate. Hopefully the task force will look long and hard about all these interim bodies. I am hopeful that a resolution to amend the Canons to allow any meeting of GC, not just “regular” meetings, to make and approve constitutional amendments, will come to the floor and be passed. The submitting committee asks us to reject it. This is so wrong! If we don’t do this, then any constitutional changes offered by the task force won’t go into effect until 2018, because currently constitutional changes require readings and approvals at two consecutive General Conventions. I am hopeful this is changed, allowing the Bishops (who are the only body that can call a special convention) to gather us, perhaps immediately after GC2015, to approve such changes. I hope enough people are left on the floor to understand the importance.

This morning’s session, which was in rapid fire mode as we were trying to deal with over 60 resolutions (we changed the rules of order to limit time to speak and to have no one speak in favor other than the committee chair proposing the resolution unless someone spoke in opposition). Many of these resolutions fall under the “GunnRule”. Scott Gunn is a deputy and priest from Rhode Island who writes a lot about our processes. Scott believes, and I concur, that resolutions that “reaffirm” something done at a previous convention, as well as resolutions that “call upon” some entity (like a government) to do something, instead of calling upon Episcopalians or OUR church to do something, should not be presented – and in protest, to vote no to all of them. This would essentially eliminate the Committee on National and International Concerns, which is where everyone’s pet issues are dealt with by resolution after resolution. We were debating national health care, Cuba’s treatment of prisoners, clean air, racial profiling by police officers, and the need for a jobs bill. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ANY OF THOSE CAUSES, in fact I support most. It is just, in my opinion, an enormous waste of time and energy to debate such with 800+ other deputies, few of whom have the expertise to do so. Yes, the church should and must speak on such issues, but let’s do that through local parishes, through forums, through interactions with our local representatives. If I was king of reform, this is one place where we can really improve GC. People speak passionately to these issues, which is great – just remember our passing of such resolutions really makes no difference in the world. As one speaker noted, 3 years ago we approved “calling upon” the Queen of England to apologize for something one of her predecessors said 500 years ago! REALLY? And we are still waiting on her highness to obey our resolution!

It does seem our older “baby boomers” are the ones most interested in such things at GC. It’s perhaps a generational thing – boomers were brought up in the 60s and 70s and see the church’s work on such social issues as one of the main things we are to do. Younger folks tell me they want to see the church focus more on evangelism and mission. Older ones tell me resolutions on Congress supporting a carbon use tax ARE mission. Personally, I don’t get it. Let’s DO something about such things, not pass meaningless and ignored resolutions that make us feel better. May the Gunn Rule live!

An interesting note – while structure reform passed overwhelmingly we elected two people to be President and VP of the House who have long, long histories in the very structures we want to change. Both are wonderful people and I think inspired to do the right thing, but it is interesting. I hope to be involved in this conversation in some way.

Our deputation has been wonderful and we have worked really hard. We have some movers and shakers here for sure. I have been buoyed and fed by our daily worship and by many conversations with old friends and new ones. The Young Adult presence was amazing, they were well spoken and very well informed. And our Official Youth Presence – these folks (16-18 years old) spoke often from the floor (they have seat and voice) and lent a great witness to the future of our church.

I will have more wrap up stuff in the days ahead. If anyone is still listening (reading), thank you for joining me and it is a real privilege to represent the Diocese of Mississippi

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Categories: Episcopal Church
  1. July 12, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Rev. David,
    You wrote, “If anyone is still listening…” I have heard comments from several people (and I join them), that they have been reading and enjoying the blog daily. We all appreciate your providing us with the information. You write well, even when the subject is as convoluted as GC! Thank you very much! Erin Orgeron

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