In case you need to catch up on your sleep when you get home, but you need to summarize General Convention for your parish or friends, here’s my “ABCCCS Plain Language Guide to What Happened at General Convention.”
A – Anglican Covenant: There were several proposals to reject the Anglican Covenant entirely and some efforts to adopt it. We approved two resolutions that say, “We commit ourselves to continuing partnerships in the Anglican Communion, but we think the most pastoral thing to do is to decline to take a position one way or another on the Anglican Covent at this General Convention.”
B – Blessing of Same-Sex Unions: We passed a resolution that will give clergy resources that aren’t currently found in the Book of Common Prayer or the Book of Occasional Services for the “witnessing and blessing of a lifelong covenant in a same-sex relationship.” This is a huge victory for those who want and need a legitimate way to recognize gay couples who are making lifelong commitments to each other in church. But the resolution also has specific language saying that no clergy person has to use the materials if it goes against his or her beliefs.
CCC – Connections, Corporate Worship and Communications: Some of the most important things that happen at convention aren’t the official stuff. The connections we make with one another in the hallways, the lobbies, in the bars and restaurants, and at seminary diocesan dinners are amazing. The daily corporate worship brings in all kinds of diversity in language and style. And I learned a lot about communication. Bishop Kirk Smith of Arizona said, “When we were having the debate on sexuality, we were in the top 10 trending [tweets], worldwide. That translates to over 10 million views. The millennial generation helps us understand that unofficial communication is far more vast than official communication, and so this convention was a good reminder of the importance of social media.”
S – Structure: We voted, unanimously, that the time has come to change our structures – the way the wider Episcopal Church is organized. Administrative and governance structures of the Church make up about 47 percent of the budget. There was a strong sense that the Holy Spirit is urging the Church to re-imagine itself so that – still keeping our rich heritage – everything we do is to support mission. And so change IS going to happen. A group of 24 people, representative of the whole Episcopal Church, will be appointed by September 30, 2012, to work outside the normal channels of the Church and come up with a plan for reform.
I’ll give the last word to Deputy Joell Szachara, Central New York, who said, “The Holy Spirit is at work at General Convention. It was very renewing, and powerful. I love the diversity: you get to see a bigger picture of God at work. The church is not just surviving, but thriving. ”
–By the Rev. John Ohmer