I‚Äôm back in my hotel room after a LONG day of hearings and orientation. My official day started at 8:00 AM with the initial meeting of the legislative committee number 19 (Communications). We started our work by introducing ourselves and began to make our way through the list of resolutions that have so far been assigned to us. It‚Äôs a very good group of people – some of whom I‚Äôve worked with before and others of whom I‚Äôm just meeting. There‚Äôs a great deal of passion and commitment to doing communication well and more importantly to using the tools and methods of good communication to tell the Gospel of Jesus to the whole world.
After finding my way to lunch and catching up with the rest of the deputation from Bethlehem, we spent the afternoon in large group meetings. Bishop Griswold and President Werner addressed the joint houses of deputies and bishops. We followed that by having an hour and a half of table conversations with other deputies chosen at random. I was one of the facilitators of the conversation at our table.
In our conversation we talked about what we felt most passionate about as a result of our experience of Jesus Christ. We talked about what we find and have found to be most compelling about the Episcopal Church. And, most interestingly, we talked about what a ‚Äúsuccessful‚Äù convention would look like for us.
I was truly impressed with the level of candor with which we spoke to each other. My table had people from across this nation and across the theological spectrum. What I was surprised to hear, and delighted to discover, was a real commitment on the part of everyone around our table to finding some way to move forward. We talked about finding a structure or a process that would allow a time of healing, and which would respect the consciences of all the people in this church.
One person shared his feeling that success may mean finding a way to split amicably, but he said this was not something he wanted at all, and was focusing his energy and passion instead on finding a way to stay together.
None of us talked about what this ‚Äúway‚Äù might look like, but given the tenor of the conversations I had been hearing up to this moment about the inevitability of a split happening, the fact that we were committed to finding a way forward was welcome news.
After dinner with the deputation from Bethlehem and a chance to share information with each other about our learnings during the day, we returned for the first round of official legislative hearings. Committee 19 got underway and have passed with slight revision two of the resolutions assigned to us. Hopefully these will make it out to the floor of the houses quickly and be passed there as well.
The Special Committee which is dealing with the issues concerning the Windsor Report was meeting at the same time as our committee was meeting. While we were finished in an hour, that committee was still working as we left the convention center for the hotels. I thought about going up to the hearing, but decided that I had done enough for the day and wanted instead to get back where I could write up these thoughts and get them posted.
Do pray for us as we work. As I said, the people I‚Äôve met here so far are committed to finding a way forward. Pray that we hear God‚Äôs word to the Church in this particular moment.