General Convention 2006

Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Then I will go to the altar of God, and I will praise you . . . Psalm 43:3-4

The General Convention of the Episcopal Church
met in Columbus, Ohio from June 11-21, 2006.
This blog offers a view of the convention and beyond from the perspective of Lydia Evans, a two-time lay deputy from the Diocese of South Carolina.
Visit the links found below for additional resources
as well as pre- and post-convention coverage.
Thank you for remembering the convention deputies and their families in your prayers. For further resources, visit my webpages.
For all posts from the month of June, click here.
For all posts from the month of July, click here.


Monday, Busy Monday

Today began with my first committee meeting at 8 am at the Hyatt Regency. I have been assigned to Committee #10, Social and Urban Affairs. We spent the first bit of time introducing ourselves -- there were 46 of us total -- 6 bishops and 40 deputies. These committees are known as cognate committees as they are composed of both bishops and deputies.

After the introductions, we went through resolutions filed thus far and made subcommittee assignments. I am on the Sexual Minorities subcommittee -- others include Anti-Racism, Slavery, Sexual Exploitation, HIV/AIDS, and Miscellaneous. We then met in subcommittees to consider our resolutions. After regathering as a committee and talking about upcoming hearings for legislation, we adjourned before noon, and I went down to the Convention Center to be officially certified and get my nametag, etc.

After lunch, all deputies and bishops gathered in the enormous Worship Hall for an address by the Presiding Bishop and the Very Rev. George Werner, President of the House of Deputies. At the outset of his address, the PB referenced a 9th century hymn, the Veni Creator Spiritus, when he asked that the Holy Spirit "enable with perpetual light/the dullness of our blinded sight." I have to say that this gave me pause as it is one of my favorite parts of our Ordination service. Visit Cyberhymnal to listen.

He went on, however, to speak in a language that could be interpreted in a number of different ways. In a reference to St. Clement of Alexandria, he expressed the hope that "we would not curl up in our obsessions in the manner of hedgehogs," finally cautioning us that we must "walk together" rather than saying, "walk with me till you know I'm right."

After Dean Werner's remarks, we were led in a brief orientation by Pittsburgh deputy +Jim Simons, followed by a facilitated conversation in our table groups. There were about 10 deputies at my table and a trained facilitator led us in sharing our reflections on three questions under the heading "Growing Christian Community: The Episcopal Way."

1. Think back over your life. What is it about the Christian faith that you are most passionate about? Tell me how God's love in Jesus is important to you.

2. What do you really value about the Episcopal Church? What is the most important thing that the Episcopal Church has contributed to your life?

3. Imagine that this convention has been an incredible success. In the years to come, imagine telling a friend or family member what you accomplished. What would you tell them was the most important thing you did or decision you were part of?

We each had approximately eight minutes to share our answers to all of the questions, and then to listen to each of the others share. San Joaquin deputy +Rob Eaton was also seated at my table. I went first, and here is basically how I answered these questions:

1. I am most passionate about sharing Jesus with others. When I consider points at which I can see His fingerprints on my life, I want to share that Good News. How is His love important to me? Christ died for me. He went to the cross to save me, a miserable sinner. There's no way that I could ever earn that salvation -- this is unmerited favor. I don't deserve it, and there's no amount of work I could ever do to accomplish it. But He loves me so much that He was lifted high upon that cross.

2. I told the folks at my table that I met my husband more than 25 years ago when I had just begun to attend the Episcopal Church. In all those years, through three parishes, much had happened. But the largest contribution to my life has been that, through my involvement with the Church in my parish and my diocese, God has prepared me to receive an incredible gift -- my brother. I went on to tell them the story of Michael -- the timing of this miracle -- and my Mother's recently diagnosed cancer. (Many of you know the story of these past few years -- if not, I'll have to share it at another time.)

3. What would I later say I had accomplished at this convention? First of all, I would say that God had accomplished something incredible -- that the Holy Spirit had moved in this place. I told them that it was my hope that there could be reconciliation. But this reconciliation must begin through our relationship with God -- for only after we are reconciled to the Lord, when we are made whole through Him, it is then that we can make the space necessary to be reconciled to one another, to really embrace everyone else.

After everyone at the table had shared, the plenary facilitator, +Rob Voyle, began a sort of "Amen" chorus surrounding that which we value about the Episcopal Church. (WHO is this supposed to be about?)

He closed by asking (and then quickly answering) this question -- what is it that we have that the Sunnis and the Shiites do not? the ability to get together and share this church and this hope.

Silly me! I thought that what distinguishes us as Christians is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God. Well, I guess I'm entitled to my opinion.

Good night from Columbus, where I'm currently listening to On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand.

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus' Name

When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my Hope and Stay

When He shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless to stand before the throne

Oh Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand


Anonymous Kathie Phillips said...

Awesome, Lydia. Just want you to know that the prayer warriors at St. Luke's on Hilton Head are praying for all of our representatives at the convention by name...big time. We are not only praying for you but we have prayed for a hedge of protection to be around your families, also. May God be close to you today giving you wisdom and discernment and the continued boldness to speak out inhis name.
Kathie Phillips, Deacon, St. Luke's Hilton Head Island

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Milton Finch said...

May the Lord continually strengthen you throughout this week. God's Peace!

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rob Voyle came to St. Marks, Jacksonville, FL about a year ago. His "gospel" was all about how we value our parish. Not a word about Jesus Christ or preaching the real Gospel. He got an earfull from our parishioners.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Marc Robertson said...

"All other ground is sinking sand..."
May the Holy Spirit bring discernment to more and more re: the ground upon which we currently stand.
May God have mercy on you, Lydia, upon the Convention, and upon us all.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Eric Swensson said...

God bless you, sister! We'll be praying for you.

BTW, those are the same three questions we were given at a workshop in my ELCA congregation done by the bishop's wife about 12 years ago (with focus on ourcongregation not any denomination, obviously).

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Eve Nash said...

What an absolutely refreshing and enlivening post from convention. I live in Birmingham, and am praying daily for all of you---but especially you, Lydia,after reading this (linked from T19). Thank you for your faithfulness and service for our Lord

8:23 AM  

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