8:00 am. Austin Convention Center.We were scheduled for two Legislative Sessions today. 8:00 - 1:00 and 2:30 - 6:30. Yikes! Doesn't that sound like a long, long day?
And then we got started. And we got moving! Where yesterday we endured countless parliamentary motions and extended debate, today all motions were kept to a minimum. It was almost as if everyone were ready to get done and head home. And why not? Most of us had been here 11 days -- or more!
Early on resolution B012 came back to us. This was the resolution entitled "Marriage Rites for the Whole Church." The House of Bishops accepted the resolution largely as passed by the Deputies, adding only a single amendment that clarified an important matter. As the resolution authorizes liturgies for trial use, a vote by orders was required. Each deputation has up to 4 lay and 4 clergy. A majority vote in each of the two orders is recorded as either "yes" or "no." If there's a tie, then the vote is recorded as "divided," which is functionally the same as a "no" vote. Then you tally votes by deputation and by order, either lay or clergy.
Here's the final total on "Marriage Rites for the Whole Church."
That's about as wide a margin as you could get!
As it turns out, by working a bit later than planned in the morning session, we completed all our work by about 1:40 pm!
Some closing reflections from a third-time deputy.The Ft. Worth Deputation posted a "Top Ten" list from Convention on Facebook. The first three resolutions they discuss are:
- Marriage for all (B012)
- A plan for revision of the Book of Common Prayer (A068)
- Authorization of an expansive language version of Holy Eucharist Rite II (D078)
The committee on which I had the privilege to serve worked on all three. I am amazed that I had a front-row seat to such changes, participating in their discussion and sharing in such important work.
And yet these changes do not change everything. The availability of marriage rites for all couples seeking marriage does not impose such an inclusive view on all; it merely makes it available to all. And I think that's the right, good, and even Godly thing to do. Baptism is the rite by which and through which we celebrate becoming part of the family of God. Yet some of our baptized members have been consigned to lesser status solely because of their sexuality. No more; now all baptized Episcopalians can share in all the sacraments of our church.
Prayer Book revision may be for some a source of anxiety. Yet the House of Bishops added an important element to the resolution authorizing a revision process: The Book of the Common Prayer 1979 is "memorialized" as a Prayer Book for the Church. That means that even as we work through a process of considering anew how we worship God all who wish to continue using the "new" Prayer Book of the last four decades may continue to do so.
In other words, in the best of our expansive, Episcopal way we charted a course that reaches for the future while never forgetting or past -- or thinking that embracing one requires abandoning the other.
I am excited and energized by our work here. As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry likes to remind us: we are the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement. I believe our branch is stronger and our church will bear good fruit in the days and years following General Convention 2018.
May God continue to bless us all with faith, courage, and strength.