Episcopalians haven’t yet poured into Indianapolis. The first vote has yet to be cast. The amendment to the amendment remains to be crafted. Yet you already can hear the winds of distrust blowing between the houses of deputies and bishops.
You can understand this unease, which flows both ways, when you take a look at fiery issues on the agenda like remolding our church structure, as well as our General Convention. Turf-conscious exchanges between the Houses, already a familiar phenomenon, seem to be on the increase.
You know times are tough when a call by the Presiding Bishop for more emphasis on consensus and less on winners-and-losers stirs up a cauldron of concern. Does that mean the PB wants to strip deputies of their votes? And what are bishops saying to one another in those small groups, while deputies man their electronic voting devices in their cavernous hall?
As a warm-up for General Convention, perhaps it would be helpful for all of us to refocus on the spiritual essence of what we’re about to do. General Convention may be the largest legislative body in the world, but it should never become a parliamentary creature defined by power politics, turf battles and interest groups.
We are a community, not of parliamentarians, but of Christian faithful. Our principles need to be leavened by our humility; our ears as open as our mouths. We need to start loving one another before we end up in a parliamentary stalemate better suited for the congressional corridors of Washington.
So here’s a suggestion: Despite this year’s crowded schedule, look for every opportunity to pray and to talk with one another, not as bishops and deputies, but as fellow-travelers. That’s not “taking a break”; it’s refocusing on the centrality of our faith. We are a church united by God’s unconditional love. We need to remember that in Indianapolis.
–Ed Jones, Editor