Ever had one of those days?
Things started quietly this morning. Got up and went to the last formal working meeting of the World Mission Committee… We spent the morning discussing the vision for World Mission laid out in the new working document from the Standing Committee on World Mission. A number of well known figures in the Mission field addressed our committee and we all talked about our excitement in finding ways to take the love of Christ to people who have either not yet heard the name of Jesus – or have not known the love that Christ teaches us to show forth to the world. We made some minor additions to the resolutions and sent it off to the House of Deputies for action. Then we agreed to come back tomorrow morning to talk about what sort of ramifications the votes on human sexuality might have on people working in the mission field abroad. (People have different opinions about what to expect – and it seems a good thing, while we’re all gathered together, to take council.) I won’t be able to be there. I’m going to testify to the Evangelism Committee about a resolution I helped to craft with Ted Mollegan – the prime mover of the 20/20 vision in the Episcopal Church. (The resolution is about the Church’s need to effect reconciliation between its members – more so now than before perhaps.)
Went from Mission meetings to the morning Eucharist. Most of my table group were in their places when I arrived. We listened to the music and watched the images and paintings flash up on the big screen behind the altar. The Presiding Bishop was preaching today – and Bishop Roskam of NYC was celebrating. Like most of the services it was conducted in multiple languages – the PB has pretty great French and good spanish. Bishop Roskam speaks spanish very well. (We’ve also had prayers in the Inuit and in Chinese (by people from the Diocese of Taiwan… I didn’t know that there WAS as diocese of Taiwan in ECUSA. There is… we’re actually a very International Church in our own right.)
During the table sharing after the PB’s sermon on the life of St. Francis we started talking about yesterday’s vote. There are people from the conservative, liberal and moderate sides of the House all sitting at the same table. The conservatives talked about their dissapointment and pain with the vote yesterday – but also about how kind and loving everyone had been to them immediately after the vote was taken. One woman at our table said, with eyes welling up, “I know that what we did came out of prayer. I don’t understand it, but I will do my best to learn to live into it. God was in that room. I know that much at least.” I walked out of the room feeling wonderfully optimistic – and excited that the issue of Gene Robinson’s consecration was now in the House of Bishops and we Deputies could get on with our work. (We’re running about a day and a half behind on our calendar at the moment.)
The morning session was uneventful. Lots of reporters around, but now they’re not interested in talking to us – they were looking to corner a Bishop to interview. The House got down to business and started to move quickly to get caught up. I got lost in the minutia of the business of the House… “Committee 5 makes it’s report to the House concerning Resolution A150 and recomends concurrence…”
We were excused to go grab some lunch after we met in our Provincial Caucuses. The Caucuses were needed to nominate candidates from each province of the Church to serve on the next Presiding Bishop Search Committee. Following that a gang of us walked downstairs to the resturant for some lunch.
From lunch we walked back up the street to the Convention Center – and we all remarked on what a perfect and beautiful day it was… blue sky, comfortable temperature, brilliant sunshine.
I came into the Convention Center and noticed knots of people standing around in the hall – many with their bishops. They had grim and serious faces.
When I got out on the floor of the hall, a friend from another deputation walked over to me and said that they had heard a rumor that a group of bishops had brought charges against Gene. Another said that he had heard something had happened, but wasn’t sure what exactly.
George Werner called us to order and began the afternoon session by reading a statement from the Presiding Bishop. Apparently a person had made accusations of improper behavior against Gene – and the charges were going to be investigated. (No surprise there – that happens automatically in the Episcopal Church. Once charges are brought there is an automatic process that kicks in to investigate and deal with them.) The Chair of the New Hampshire Deputation stood up and made a statement that both the Diocese and the present Bishop support the investigation and expect it to get quickly to facts of the matter.
And then nothing. We started back in on our work.
I remember how frustrating it was to have to wait for months on end for anything to happen while I was in the process of discerning my ordained vocation. I – being the impatient sort that I am – complained about it to the head of the committee who was overseeing the whole thing. She told me that the waiting was part of the design – and that it was to teach the ordinands the ability to wait patiently in stressful situations. Well… I got to make use of that skill today. Maybe it was because so many of us in the room have been through that training that we were able to put our emotions on hold for a while and pick up with the work of the House just where we had laid it down before lunch…
We’re all on our honor on the floor of the House of Deputies not to use electronic communication devices to talk to people while the legislature is in session. (This is a rule meant to keep the debate and voting fair and to not allow a group to coordinate the action from outside the hall – and to tell us too quickly of actions that the junior house (The House of Bishops) has taken.) So we didn’t know anything. It wasn’t until an hour and a half later that we took a recess. As soon as that happened – we all ran out and turned on our cell phones and started calling. I called my wife and asked her what was going on. She read me the note on CNN’s website and told me what was happening on the TV.
After the conversation a TV reporter approached me and asked what I thought of situation… I told him that I didn’t think very much of it at all – especially since I didn’t have much information. I did say that we need to let the investigation be completed. Having been involved in a misconduct investigation recently, I know how careful and complete the process is. The reporter asked me if I had any suspicions about the timing…
I told him that I had no idea. I don’t think this is the moment to be spinning out conspiracy theories. The investigation will get to the truth of the matter. The investigation will also uncover any inappropriate attempts to control the flow of news. I know people disagree with what happened yesterday – many of them are close friends of mine. I know others who are delighted. They are my friends as well. But we all had our say yesterday – and we voted. The people I know who are dissapointed also know that it’s time to move forward. I can’t imagine that any large group have done something inappropriate. Assuming the charges are not true, I think it’s more likely a single person was moved by the large ammount of coverage over the weekend to grab his or her 15 minutes of fame. Or not. I don’t know – and guessing isn’t going to do anyone any good right at the moment. Better to exercise the spiritual discipline of waiting patiently upon God. There’s plenty of other important work that has to done right now – and we might as well focus on that while we let the people appointed to handle the Robinson matter do their own job.
After we were dismissed around 6:30 PM tonight, a gang of us from Bethlehem gathered in the hotel in a resturant with TV’s so we could watch the coverage. We had dinner together – made plans for the next day – and then all went to our rooms. I came up here, fired up my computer and started reading all the email that I had received during the day. That email was what let me finally know all that had happened – and what other news was out there as well.
Yep – it was one of those days. Long, unexpected and full of twists and turns. But surprisingly filled with moments of grace as well…. and with a chance to reminded of the importance of spiritual growth and discipline.
Oh… and a bunch of us went and grabbed prayer beads from the vendors in the exhibition hall. That seems like a good way to pass the time while we wait… in prayer and meditation.
Keep us in your prayers. Know that you remain in all of ours.
God bless you.