Into the regions beyond… Yesterday


Into the regions beyond…

Yesterday morning (the day of Bishop-elect Robinson’s consent) started for me in the Evangelism Committee. I went to testify about a Resolution that I have co-sponsored with two other people about the need to effect Reconciliation between different groups in the church. The resolution grew out of the meeting in LA that I attended earlier this spring – and it commends the model that is being used by the Reconciliation Project out in the Diocese of LA. A couple of other people who were present at the conference this spring were at the hearing too. We all got up and testified, as well as a young priest from Tennessee who, as a conservative, testified to the need to be reconciled as well. Without any planning, it turned out that a liberal, a conservative and a moderate all stood up to speak to the Evangelism committee.

I don’t know the committee well – but they did ask a few questions – mostly seemed to be nodding their heads – and then moved on with their business.

I went from there over to the Convention Center. Not much news in the morning. People were still sort of overwhelmed by the events of the previous day. We took care of the chores of the morning, got our places organized on the floor of the House of Deputies and then wandered down the hall to the morning Eucharist.

Earlier in the Convention we had concurred with the House of Bishops on the second reading on the inclusion of the Feast of Enmegabowh into the Book of Lesser Feasts and Fasts. Enmegabowh was the first native American priest of our church. Tuesday morning was the first “official” celebration of this commemoration – and it happened in the Diocese in which he had labored.

The service was strikingly beautiful. The music was provided by a drum circle of Episcopalians from the Obijewa nation – with dancers and in native tongue. The hyms were all sung with out accompaniment in the English, Obijewa and Dakota simultaneously. The liturgy was presided over by the Bishop of Minnesota – but also on the platform were the three Native American bishops. I’d never seen or heard the form of worship that native American Episcopalians use – but I wish I had. It’s deeply theological – with a strong emphasis on Creation and on giving thanks to the creator – Gichi Manidoo.

From there we went in to the House and began the work of the day.

There was a quiet over our work this day. People were sort of listening with half their mind while they wondered what was happening in the House of Bishops – and where the investigation was heading. Bishop-elect Robinson was not of the floor of the House in the morning – there was an alternate in his place. We moved through the business, had morning prayer and recessed for lunch.

When we came back into the hall – you could see that something had changed. Apparently the news stations had begun to report that Investigation had been completed and that all the charges were being withdrawn or dismissed.

Robinson was back on the floor – in his place as Chair of the Deputation from New Hampshire. His security guard was sitting with him – looking around constantly to scan the people who were coming over to quietly consult with Robinson – or with Deputy Dales. The press had returned as well. There was line of photographers standing over in the press section with their cameras now trained on Robinson. Barbara Caum and I started trying to noodle out what was going on in the House of Bishops by paying attention to the number and activity level of the reporters who were coming in to join us.

We took a recess at around 4. I walked out into the hallway and heard someone say that they were broadcasting the House of Bishop’s meeting live. I and around 800 of my closest neighbors began a power walk down the long corridor to the room where we had celebrated the ministry of Native Americans. We heard the Bishop in charge of the investigation read his report to the House. I was able to stay long enough to hear that both were dismissed – and then hurried back to the House of Deputies. I called Karen (my wife) to let her know what was going on while I walked. Barbara Caum had managed to get hold of the text of the report and handed it to me where I sat. I got out my prayer beads and a copy of a prayer for General Convention and I started to pray.

The lights of the TV stations went on all over the hall – and it was clear something was moving in the other House. We went on with our work – but were constantly watching to see what sort of developments might occur.

We moved slowly through the agenda. People are amending resolutions as they come to floor, and a number of people have prepared speeches to make once a resolution they care about is acted upon. Unfortunately that means we only were able to deal with 19 out of 350 or so items that we have to deal with this afternoon. Hopefully with this behind us, things will get back on track, and we’ll start moving quickly forward. Otherwise, we may become famous as the General Convention that dealt with the least amount of legislation ever.

We waited to see if the House of Bishops were going to be able to finish their voting before we had our recess. People had a number of dinners to go to tonight – so we recessed when we had to do so.

A gang of us walked back down the hall to the big auditorium with the tv feed from the House of Bishops. The rumor was that the Bishops where going to make their announcement in 5 minutes. The room started to fill up.

I called Karen on my cellphone. She was with our daughter who was in an Irish Step dance class. Since she had no way to get the news, I started a running commentary on what was happening.

The announcement was made and there was just a scattering of applause. Mostly people stood quietly. Bishop Duncan and others stood up in protest. People listened. When the Bishops began to pray, the thousand or so of us in the other hall joined in with them. Then we all began to walk back to the hotel.

Hillary and I had plans to go to the Province Dinner – but we decided that since we had the opportunity to stay and watch history being made – we’d choose the Historic event over the dinner. The gang from Bethlehem all gathered for dinner in the hotel dining room.

All through dinner we watched people wandering back from the AAC meeting that had immediately followed. The looked serious, somber and tired. I don’t know what is going to planned for this morning when the decision of the House of Bishops is formally read to the House of Deputies – but I expect they’ll be some protest.

Some deputies where seen collecting all their things from where they were sitting last night. Hopefully this just means that they want to be especially well prepared this morning. I fear some may have left the convention – or may be leaving. We’ll have to wait and see.

Sorry for the long post – I don’t get a chance to get back to the computer to make updates – except in the late night or early evening. Maybe with the heavy decision now behind us, I’ll have more opportunity to get back to my hotel room and update more frequently.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...