I don’t generally share – either here or on Facebook – advance notice of times when I am going to be out of town. But some of you know that I’ve been out of town for the past few days. I left on Thursday morning, and just returned home at 4 a.m. on Sunday. I traveled to Atlanta to attend a meeting of the Episcopal Church. Specifically, I was one of our diocese’s two General Convention Deputies to attend the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music’s “Church-Wide Consultation on 2009 General Convention Resolution C056.”
I have been too busy and/or exhausted to get online since my departure Thursday morning, so I don’t know what others may already have written about the meeting. I’m going to give you my reflections.
By way of background, you should probably be familiar with resolution C056, adopted at the 2009 General Convention. The text reads:
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call forth a renewed pastoral response from this Church, and for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships; and be it furtherMany of us Episcopalians celebrated the passage of this resolution back in 2009. I, for one, had not been aware of the heavy load of work it would put upon the Standing Commission for Liturgy and Music [SCLM].
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention; and be it further
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion; and be it further
Resolved, That bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church; and be it further
Resolved, That this Convention honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and be it further
Resolved, That the members of this Church be encouraged to engage in this effort.
But they have been hard at work, doing the work General Convention directed them to do. They have been collecting resources, doing the hard work of theology and discernment. They are working hard to use “an open process” for their work, as called for in the GC resolution.
Eventually, they secured a grant from a non-profit foundation to assemble a group of GC Deputies to review and respond to their work to date. They issued a call earlier this year, asking each diocese of The Episcopal Church to send one lay and one clergy delegate to a meeting in Atlanta on March 18-19. I was chosen as the lay delegate for the Diocese of Missouri. ENS has a good story here.
I will confess up front that I misunderstood the nature and purpose of that meeting before I got there. I thought we were going to take action, adopt resolutions, do something legislatively. I was wrong. The goal of the SCLM was to get feedback on the work they have accomplished in the months since the GC in the summer of 2009. They wanted conversation, not legislation …. counsel, not amendments … reflection, not debates.
The meeting was a good one, for me … in many ways. I hope to reflect on that in a few further blogposts.
The other Deputy from Missouri at the Atlanta consultation was the Rev. Tamsen Whistler, chair of our deputation. We heard a clear message in Atlanta that our job is to take our learnings and reflections back to our GC Deputies and to all the parishes in our diocese. That is going to be a very tall order. The Atlanta consultation constituted about 12 hours of intensive face-to-face time in plenary sessions and small-group discussions, during which genuine reflections were shared and relationships blossomed. How can we make something similar happen in our diocese and congregations? I do not know.
While I compose my thoughts, I hope you will take advantage of the webcasts that were streamed from the meeting. As I blogged here, the webcasts are supposed to be available here. Unfortunately, for me … from my home … at this time, they’re not loading. Maybe it’s just me. I hope ENS will get them available to all soon.