Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves was at St. Andrew’s in Saratoga, California, last night in a town hall style discussion about the recent General Convention. The Episcopal church’s General Convention meets every three years and is organized in two houses: the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. Bishop Mary told us of her experiences in the House of Bishops and many of our lay and clergy delegates to the House of Deputies spoke as well. The 77th General Convention met July 5–12, 2012, in Indianapolis, Indiana.
We started yesterday with a BarBQ dinner in the courtyard under the huge oak and then moved into the church for a two hour discussion. The meeting of over a hundred was hosted by the Santa Clara Valley Deanery, an organization of the parishes in the upper third of the Diocese of El Camino Real on the central coast of California.
After opening with prayer, we heard about many of the topics discussed in the USA-wide convention, from many points of view. Some of the highlights for me:
- Bishop Mary’s response to Jay Akasie’s dramatic and highly-critical article “What Ails the Episcopalians: Its numbers and coffers shrinking, the church votes for pet funerals but offers little to the traditional faithful” in the 12 July 2012 Wall Street Journal. (She said she ate no fancy steak dinners and heard of none, and did not see how they could happen on the travel budget allowed.)
- Serious discussion of reorganizing the church as an institution so as to serve the people better and make more effective use of church money.
- Consideration of the requirements for communion. See more on this: “Baptism before communion is still church’s norm: Convention debate shows practice doesn’t always follow canons”.
- Approval for use of the rite “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” to bless same-sex couples who are in lifelong, faithful monogamous, committed relationships. See more on this: “Blessing rite authorized for provisional use from First Advent: Liturgy still ‘work in progress,’ convention calls for continued comment”. Our ECR diocese’s 2010 “Report of the Diocese of El Camino Real Task Force on the Theology of Marriage” was part of this discussion.
- Consideration on how to reduce barriers to diverse participation in church leadership and governance. (I was reminded to look at current postings on the Chicks in Pointy Hats blog about women bishops.)
- Discussion of the several resolutions on how to reduce poverty and to help the homeless.
Overall, it was a fascinating and instructive meeting.
Images Copyright 2012 by Katy Dickinson