A few preliminary thoughts on General Convention 2009

Our thanks to everyone who read our General Convention coverage. Visits to the site were up about 50 to 60% over our average, and more than doubled our average on the day of the vote on the resolution D025, which acknowledged that God calls gays and lesbian Christians to all orders of ministry in our Church.

My thanks again to Richard Helmer, Rebecca Wilson and Otis Gaddis III, without whom our coverage would have consisted of the live blogging. My thanks , too, to Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, and her chancellor Sally Johnson; Herb Gunn and Dan Webster, my media relations colleagues on the deputies side, and all of the deputies who gave media briefings over the last two week.

I am about to head off on a vacation for a bit–In fact I am writing in a break from packing–but The Cafe will keep humming along. I did want to make four quick points before I left, and I hope to come back to them in more detail on my return.

1. Passing the resolutions on human sexuality was an act of self-definition. We can’t maintain honest relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Anglican Communion without stating honestly where we stand on the issues that divide us. This honors neither them, nor the God whom we believe has moved us to these positions.

2. As Rebecca Wilson makes clear in her essay on Daily Episcopalian today, if we do not proceed attentively, and with a particular eye for transparent processes, as we develop resources for same -sex blessings (and, I would add, as gay and lesbian candidates make their way through diocesan search processes) then we will squander the progress we made in Anaheim.

3. The point closest to my own heart. I worked with a number of committed theological conservatives in Anaheim, and came to value their friendship. These folks are bearing with our Church in the wake of choices that they wish it had not made. I want to find a way to bear with them when it is necessary. It is essential that we find ways to honor the sacrifice they are making. I don’t yet know what that means in practice, but I am taking the idea on vacation with me.

4. The cuts in our Church’s budget were deep. Acknowledging the necessity of making such deep cuts, I am not inclined to read political agendas into the kinds of cuts that were made. But I am inclined to say that the cuts put some distinctive aspects of the way in which our Church discerns the will of God (you can say “polity” if you like, but I try not to) in some jeopardy. If the interim bodies that help govern the Church (Executive Council and various Commissions, Committees, Agencies and Boards) are unable to find ways to do their work, and if the journalistic component of the work of the Office of Communications is dramatically de-emphasized, then lay people and the clergy will have fewer opportunities to participate in our governance, and less information on which to base their opinions. It has been suggested that the budget crisis has been used to increase the authority of the Church’s bishops and staff at the expense of the laity and clergy. I am not making that case. Fresh from the wonderful atmosphere of Anaheim (a phrase that for many reasons I never expected to write) I want to believe that we will find creative ways to make sure that the great gift of our governance system will be preserved. So, consider this is a call to vigilance and experimentation, rather than a call to arms.

Although a different day may require a different call, if I find that I have been naive.

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