Monday, July 20, 2009

Thank You, Team All Saints!

We want to at least BEGIN to thank everyone on "Team All Saints" who helped make our work and witness in Anaheim such a stunning success.

To call out everybody individually would probably take 'til Homecoming, but let's call out "by title" as a beginning:

Our fabulous booth design and implementation team and those who set up, staffed and organized what was a wonderful presence in the Exhibit Hall.

Our brilliant choirs and their fabulous director who provided the amazing music for the July 10th Integrity Eucharist.

Altar guild members and vergers who helped provide the liturgical "stuff' for the service, and all the WONDERFUL ushers who took All Saints hospitality "behind the Orange Curtain."

The Peace & Justice dept. for organizing the "All Saints Action a Day" -- a virtual incarnation of putting faith into action.

Everyone who came up around the "Here I am, Send me!" t-shirt project and provided such a colorful, positive witness to the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit.

The members of our Accessibility Ministry whose witness to the whole church made All Saints very proud and the wonderful Healing Eucharist that was such a gift.

Those who marched with the Disney workers in their labor action and helped keep economic justice out front as a critical gospel issue.

Our always-fabulous custodial team who helped so much with the details of getting all the "stuff" shipped, set up and organized.

The wonderful diversity of staff members who came to share in the work and witness.

And to all who "held down the fort" here in Pasadena -- especially those who provided administrative support from afar and colleagues who covered for those of us "otherwise occupied" during the last two weeks.

It was an extraordinarily successful convention ... as I noted in my legislative wrap up post: "As noteworthy as the content of the resolutions is the context. These resolutions passed not by narrow margins after rancorous debate. They passed by overwhelming consensus after respectful dialogue that left no doubt that those who gathered in Anaheim are committed to an inclusive Anglicanism that keeps at the table all who desire so to do."

There is now much work ahead of us as we strive to make those resolutions realities, but as we do so we recognize that we stand on the shoulders of those who have worked so long and hard down through the decades -- including our Rector Emeritus George Regas.

His prophetic work in the 70's on women's ordination and groundbreaking advocacy for same-sex blessings in the 90's helped pave the way for the work we did in Anaheim these last two weeks and contributed directly to the "inch of the planet" reclaimed through the dedicated work and witness of those on the ground in Anaheim in 2009.

You can read more about that here.
Photos are online here.

And now ... back to our regularly scheduled work of turning the human race into the human family! :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

ASC in Anaheim: Making God's Love Tangible 24/7 + 3

Thanks to all who contributed to photos to this tribute to All Saints' witness to God's inclusive love at the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church!

Slide show of the July 10th Integrity Eucharist

Thanks to Cam Sanders & Don Anderson whose photos are included here along with those of our own staff and volunteer photgraphers. A great witness to a great evening!

All Saints in Anaheim Slide Show

Cam Sanders spent a day in Anaheim and put together a fabulous slide show of "a day in the life of General Convention" -- including the Integrity Eucharist.

Click here to view. And thanks to Cam for sharing!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

So what HAPPENED at General Convention?

by Susan Russell

I’m going to write more about “General Convention in General,” but here’s a legislative wrap up.

Heading to Anaheim, we had two primary “agenda items:”

• Move the Episcopal Church beyond B033 and reopen ordination processes to all the baptized;
• More the Episcopal Church forward on the blessing of same sex marriages and unions.

We saw those goals realized in the adoption of the following resolutions:

D025 – Supports inclusive ordination processes for ALL orders of ministry
C056 – Authorizes “generous pastoral support” for blessing marriages, unions & partnerships and collection of liturgical resources for consideration at GC2012

As noteworthy as the content of the resolutions is the context. These resolutions passed not by narrow margins after rancorous debate. They passed by overwhelming consensus after respectful dialogue that left no doubt that those who gathered in Anaheim are committed to an inclusive Anglicanism that keeps at the table all who desire so to do.

D025 -- Ordination

It can – and has – been said that D025 does not “repeal” B033 – and that is, of course, true. There will still be bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees who will choose to “exercise restraint” when consenting the election of a bishop whose “manner of life” would cause concern to the wider Anglican Communion. (And we all know that is code for “partnered gay or lesbian bishop.”) Nevertheless, the inclusive and expansive language of D025 states “this is where we are in 2009” – and frees bishops and standing committees to focus on the theological orientation rather than the sexual orientation of qualified candidates to the episcopate if they choose to.

Furthermore, by stating unequivocally that “God has called and may call any individual in the church to any ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, in accordance with the discernment process set forth in the Constitution and Canons of the church” – D025 actually states for the first time as an official resolution of the Episcopal Church that the extra-canonical requirement of celibacy of gay and lesbian candidates for ordination is not the mind of this church.

From the letter by the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies to the Archbishop of Canterbury:

Nothing in the Resolution goes beyond what has already been provided under our Constitution and Canons for many years. In reading the resolution, you will note its key points, that:

• Our Church is deeply and genuinely committed to our relationships in the Anglican Communion;
• We recognize the contributions gay and lesbian Christians, members of our Church both lay and
• ordained, have made and continue to make to our common life and ministry;
• Our Church can and does bear witness to the fact that many of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters live in faithful, monogamous, lifelong and life-giving committed relationships;
• While ordination is not a “right” guaranteed to any individual, access to our Church’s discernment and ordination process is open to all baptized members according to our Constitution and Canons; and
• Members of The Episcopal Church do, in fact, disagree faithfully and conscientiously about issues of human sexuality.

C056 -- Blessings

What the Episcopal Church adopted in Resolution C056 is a broad local option for the blessings of the marriages, unions and partnerships of same sex couples and a call to the church to work together toward common liturgical expressions of those blessings.

The Rev. Sam Candler (Atlanta), chair of the committee that presented the resolution, called it "an elegant blend of theological care, ecclesiastical breadth and pastoral generosity."

The Rev. Dan Martins (Northern Indiana) had this to say about C056: “If there was ambiguity surrounding D025--and I have contended that there is -- there is none here. This convention has abrogated every positive gesture it has made toward the Anglican Communion since 2003. Everything we did three years ago in response to the Windsor Report is down the drain.”

I believe that's what we call "clarity."

In other historic action, the General Convention adopted resolutions supporting the enactment of anti-discrimination and hate crimes legislation protecting transgender people at local, state and federal levels. Both houses also adopted resolutions adding "gender identity and expression" to its nondiscrimination policy for hiring lay employees and calling for the revision of church paper and electronic forms to allow a wider range of gender identifications.

In review:

C056 – Authorizes “generous pastoral support” for blessing marriages, unions & partnerships and collection of liturgical resources for consideration at GC2012
C048 – Urges support of fully inclusive ENDA legislation pending in Washington
D012 -- Support for Transgender Civil Rights
D025 – Supports inclusive ordination processes for ALL orders of ministry
D032 -- Non-discrimination clause including gender identity and gender expression for lay employees
D076 -- Support for immigration equality for gay couples
D090 -- Church paper work to be made more accessible to flexibility in gender identity and pronoun preference

C023 – Urging support for repeal of DOMA (“Defense of Marriage Act”) passed in Deputies and was referred by Bishops to Executive Council – where we expect affirmative action will be taken to take the voice of the Episcopal Church to Washington on this important issue.

Finally, applause to the amazing work of ALL our allies in advancing resolutions on a broad range of critical gospel issues. Unlike our last two General Conventions, where the resolutions regarding human sexuality so consumed our legislative process that there was precious little left for anything else, this 76th General Convention worked long, hard and diligently to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God” – acting on everything from lay equity in pension plans to ending torture; on labor issues and human rights violations; on universal health care and climate change; on human trafficking and ending the blockade in Cuba.

One of the most moving moments for me came on the last day of legislation when Frank Wade reminded us that our actions in the House of Deputies were -- in their own way --offerings being laid at the altar of our God who calls us to this work of justice, compassion and love. The reminder that “liturgical” and “political” are words that share a root – and that both the work of the people – was a holy container for this holy work we have been about for the last ten days in Anaheim.

There are miles to go before we rest – before the kingdom come on earth IS as it is in heaven. But BIG steps forward were taken by The Episcopal Church at this General Convention. And for that, we rejoice and are glad!

Friday, July 17, 2009

PBS Segment on GC2009

Much to say and more to come, but for an overview of what happened here in Anaheim, click here for a link to the PBS "Religion and Ethics Weekly" segment.

Friday, July 3, 2009

ALL the baptized!

Here is one of the "Marching to Anaheim" video clips produced by All Saintser Louise Brooks ... who will be serving as Integrity's Director of Communications ... featuring the witness of All Saints members to the power of God's inclusive love to bless, heal and inspire:

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oh, Lord, I’m Not Ready

by Jim White (AKA Canon James Blair White, Chair of the Diocese of Los Angeles Deputation to the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church)

I’m sure there’s a collect in the Book of Common Prayer for this (“For Those Who Haven’t Done Their Homework?”), but I don’t have time to look for it. I’m supposed to be reading my Blue Book (pictured left).

Yes, we know it’s maroon – last time (2006) it was green. It’s the National Church – go figure. But it actually says on the cover Report to the 76th General Convention – Otherwise Known as The Blue Book – with the catchy subtitle: Reports of the Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church - Seventy-Sixth General Convention, Anaheim, California, July 8-17, 2009.

And yes, it’s the size of a major city’s phone book – 8.5 x 11 x 2 in. and all 807 pages of it weighs in at 4.25 pounds, including the CD inside the back cover that contains the complete contents in digital form. You can also see the whole thing on the national church website by clicking on the “Blue Book” link, above.

As the subtitle suggests, it contains reports from all of the Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards (affectionately known as the “CCABs”) who do the work of the church during the triennium between General Conventions. It also contains all of the legislation (“resolutions”) that those CCABs have presented for General Convention to consider.

A good deputy would have read all of that long ago. I’m kinda behind.

At the meeting of our Deputation from the Diocese of Los Angeles back in May, we went through the Table of Contents of the thing and chose which sections we wanted to review, thus divvying the work up amongst ourselves so that we all didn’t have to read the whole thing.

At our meeting last Saturday, we handed out our summaries of those sections and passed them around – some had sent them earlier by email; some brought printed copies for everyone. Others, like me, were “late with their homework.” Fortunately, all of the sections I signed up for, other deputies reviewed too, so we won’t go completely uneducated.

Fortunately for me, since I have the honor of having been elected the chair of the deputation, I can feign, “Oh, I’ve been so busy organizing all of this, I didn’t have time to read.” Whatever works. Also fortunately for me, I wasn’t alone in not having done my homework – we’re a busy people!

But that’s not all there is. Besides the Blue Book, which contains just Axxx resolutions (those submitted by the CCABs), there are also the Bxxx resolutions (submitted by Bishops – like the infamous B033 of 2006), the Cxxx resolutions (submitted by Diocesan Conventions – like our diocese’s “C036, Repeal of GC2006 B033” which our Diocesan Convention overwhelmingly approved last December) and the Dxxx resolutions (submitted by Deputies – any 3 deputies can sponsor a resolution).

All of those resolutions (that have been submitted so far – we can still submit resolutions up until the second day of convention) appear at the Archives of the Episcopal Church’s website, where they are organized by legislative committee. There is also a link on that page to an Index to Legislative Committee by Resolution, which is searchable and will show you which resolution is assigned to which legislative committee.

As with our national legislature, most of the work of General Convention happens in the legislative committees. Often several resolutions on the same topic will be filed and it is the work of the committees to take all of that in and, if it is a topic deemed worthy of action, to perfect a single resolution that will be sent to the floor. Some of us refer to this as the sausage factory part of General Convention. All of the committees’ meetings are open to visitors and in most cases, anyone may testify at the committees’ hearings on the resolutions.

The tough part is finding out when those hearings are going to be and getting someone there to do the testifying.

Of course, with the most controversial issues – say, for example, overturning General Convention 2006’s B033, which effectively put a moratorium on the election of gay or lesbian bishops living in relationships – the hearing will be in a huge hotel ballroom with a thousand or so people attending and in those cases the committee will often limit speakers wishing to testify to deputies and bishops only. It can be interesting, to say the least – and go on for quite a while. There are rosters of the legislative committees available on the national church website. ""There is also another index into all the legislation there (and I think this one is actually more current than the Archives')."

So I guess I better quit procrastinating (by writing this blog post) and get back to my reading. I hope to see you in Anaheim – there’s actually some fun that goes along with all this work. There will be the opportunity to see lots of old (and make some new) friends from around the country, to shop for interesting (and sometimes, weird) stuff – and to hang out at the All Saints booth – in the exhibit hall, and of course eating and drinking with those old friends.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to find time to post again once Convention starts, so for now, Happy General Convention! Come and see how the polity of your church works.