I’m grabbing a few minutes between sessions on this second day of our meeting to post some quick impressions of what it’s like here at this unusual General Convention. We’re a year late, and unexpectedly shortened in our meeting, and rather than the leisurely pace of the first week of Convention typically, we’re hammering our way through the work we have before us.
There’s a focus here that usually only emerges about halfway through in my experience. Perhaps it’s because we’ve been able to do so much of the preliminary legislative work remotely in the months before our actual in-person sessions, or perhaps it’s because, having managed through this pandemic and the social upheavals of the past few years, no one has as much appetite for work that doesn’t have a clear necessity.
We’re already holding all day sessions (and night sessions). People in the House of Bishops (where I serve now) are thoughtful and engaged, and it seems to me on the whole, less interested in posturing and more interested in thinking though what comes next for the church. I’ve still gotten a chance to wave hello to old friends from previous places I’ve served or who I’ve met in other General Conventions, but it’s just a wave. No time for a meal or a cup of coffee. (Next time, we all promise, next time.)
I had thought about trying to post a sermon this weekend, but given the workload, I’m giving up that thought. Next week I’ll be back.
I will say, broadly speaking, that there are many new bishops joining our work at this Convention, and there’s a different energy in the room as a result. People have always been bright and focused, but new voices are speaking to matters before us and new perspectives being shared. I don’t know yet that I can point to one thing and say “that’s different” other than the seeing so many new and younger leaders in prominent roles. (I’m hearing that the same thing is true in the other half of General Convention, the House of Deputies.)
I’m hoping that by the end of this Convention, or by the middle of next week, I’ll have a better handle on what’s changing – because I think what we’re feeling here is happening much more broadly in the Episcopal Church, and likely in the broader religious landscape in the US too.