Things are really starting to


Things are really starting to wind down here – and I think all of us are grateful. After looking forward to these two weeks for the past year or so, I found myself sitting at my seat early yesterday afternoon counting the hours till I’d be joining my family for a week of fun at the shore…

We did manage to pick it up in the late afternoon though. It’s amazing how quickly people can gather themselves when something important is going on in the House.

We voted on the compromise resolution that the Bishops had passed on a voice vote the day before. The body of the resolution, which was passed unanimously by the Prayer Book and Liturgy Committee earlier in the week, basically acknowledges that what is happening is happening. People are doing same-gender blessing services. It’s not a terribly well kept secret in the Episcopal Church. What the resolution basically does is to de-criminalize these services. It doesn’t call for their creation, or give a time table for their adoption. It does however recognize that people need to respond pastorally to the needs of her members (all of her members). In the same way that Paul seems to have allowed for the institution of marriage in the earlier church out of pastoral concern for the early Christians, we in are day are struggling if to discern if God is calling us forward in this similiar direction.

There’s word this morning that the +ABC has called for a meeting of the Primates of the Communion in October. We don’t know what is going to happen – but it’s not something that was unexpected. But as others have said here at the convention – we can’t allow fear to inform our actions, we need to see all things through the lens of agape. (There’s a story here of a bishop who came to the convention to vote against Gene Robinson’s consent but in listing his pro and con reasons, realized that the list of reasons against, while much longer than the “pro” side, were all based on fear of how others might perceive the act. He realized that this sort of fear of others anger is not the gospel. And he changed his vote. I imagine a number of us had something similar occur to us. Michael Curry’s sermon on Sat. then becomes the seminal event of the Convention – especially when he reminded the Church that Jesus and the Church are called to risk all to follow the path of God.

There have been some extraordinary sermons preached here these past two weeks, but that one and the sermon preached yesterday morning are the ones that stick out most strongly in my memory. (The other sermon: “God never takes something away without giving something much better in return.”)

Today we most have a great deal of legislation to plow through. I think all the controversial stuff if behind us. But I’ve been wrong before….

Just a quick note at


Just a quick note at lunch. People are starting to return home, so our numbers are slowly dwindling. There are some people apparently absenting themselves from the worship services – and while they are missed – they’re missing some great worship. (We had a gospel choir today that really rocked.)

At our small table discussion this morning people started sharing what they’re hearing from home about the news of Gene Robinson’s consent. The news is mixed and some of us are going to have to return home and explain what and why the Convention voted the way it did. But in MUCH more hopeful news, many are reporting that their phones in the parish are ringing regularly with people wanting to know what time services are being held this Sunday. I hope that we as a denomination can rise to the moment and show people who we are over the next couple of weeks – especially with people finally knowing that we’re here.

There were a couple of floor interesting pieces of legislation that were considered this morning – with the budget of the church being voted on this afternoon. We may yet still get the evening off if we can keep up the pace that we did this morning.

I’m off to see if I can find a big enough box to ship home all the paper I seem to have accumulated. I really don’t want to have to schlepp it all on the plane – especially since I only have a half hour between flights in Charlotte. I’m going to be wearing my running shoes.

Things are quieting down now‚Ķ


Things are quieting down now…

With the biggest issue behind us, and a compromise on the Blessing of Same Gender Relationships coming out of the House of Bishops, things are calming down significantly.

We were clearly upheld and buoyed by the power of prayer over the last few days – and it is that prayer which gave us the energy and courage for the task we faced. I can tell it was prayer and not just adrenaline because now that we’ve landed the plane, I feel calm and rested, not drained and wrung out. God gave us the energy to see the hard emotional work through to its conclusion.

The protest on the floor yesterday was painful. There were a number of friends of mine gathered around that microphone while Kendall was reading the statement. We disagree on the question of God’s will for people attracted to the same gender – but we agree on much more. We agree on the need to do mission work, we agree on the need to tell people about Jesus’ love, we agree on the need to show the fruits of the coming Kingdom of God in our communities – and I pray that these agreements will somehow carry us through the issue that divides us at the moment.

I’ve noticed the Church tends to thrive when there is controversy among her children. (I wish it wasn’t that way because frankly I’d rather live prayerfully and peacefully – but my ways are not God’s way apparently.) I guess that happens because when there is controversy it means that people are taking the Church and God very very seriously. God’s words to Job’s friends at the end of the Book of Job have always seemed to tell me that God wants us to be in passionate relationship with the Divine – and what we do or don’t do is less important than the reality of the relationship. When you feel as strongly as so many do here right now, it’s impossible to ignore God’s work in our lives.

I’m still processing the Native American liturgy that we used on Tues. The more I reflect on it, the deeper I’m drawn into it. If you’ve never had a chance to see one or participate in one, get thee to a church.

We’re on the down hill side of the slope as far as work goes today. We’ve got a lot to get done, but the House is falling into a rhythm – and I’m more confident that we’ll get the important work accomplished that must be accomplished.

We have the budget to consider today – and that is going to be hard. There have had to be some pretty significant cuts. I know how hard it is for people to live in times of scarce resources – we’re doing the same thing in the Diocese right now.

I had a chance to talk with George Werner yesterday. I asked him how he was feeling. He said that he felt amazingly calm. He didn’t expect to feel this way – but the sense of prayer in this place is so intense that not matter what is happening around us is not able to displace that sense of balance and being in the presence of the Holy. Many people have said basically the same thing to me. It’s an amazing place to live. (I wonder if we can build booths in this place?)

Into the regions beyond‚Ķ 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.

Ever had one of those


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.

Well happy b-day to Rosemari


Well happy b-day to Rosemari Sullivan (Secretary of General Convention.) She and I have the same birthday. Members of the Bethlehem deputation went out to a birthday celebration with me tonight at Murray’s Steakhouse (a truly famous landmark.)

I have so many impressions of this day. I’m just going to list them in basically chronological order.

The Eucharist this morning was astonishingly beautiful. The music was powerful and moving. There’s something about the massed voices of 5000 people singing in harmony with organ and bell choir that simply must be a foretaste of what heaven is going to be like.

After the service four of us (who didn’t have committee meetings) went out to grab a bite to eat. There were clergy and lay people everywhere. No matter where you turned you’d run into somebody you knew, and yet another conversation would be started as you talked about where you were in your life at the moment. It was like seeing the best part of a promenade – but in the middle of the morning, with bishops and leaders of the church everywhere you looked. Bishop Paul Moore once wrote about how deeply he loved this funny little church of ours. I never understood what he meant by little until today. It feels little – intimate actually – though it isn’t all that small in fact. Certainly not in spirit or in faith given the events that have transpired here.

I once went to General Convention in Philly – on the day that the Presiding Bishop was elected. I remember sitting in the gallery waiting for the announcement about who had been selected. That was crowded. Today was mobbed. The room was jammed and the gallery was standing room only. People had been sitting in the room from early this morning until the House of Deputies began its work. The back of the hall was filled with TV cameras and reporters. Somebody had even setup a little TV studio in the very back of the room – and I saw the anchor sitting under the bright lights waiting like the rest of us to know what was going to happen.

Once we began the work of the debate, people moved quickly to the microphones. The two lines (pro and con) stretched all the way around the room. So many people got into line that there was no way that they could hope that they would be able to actually testify, given the short time we had alloted for the debate the day before. But maybe it was enough for them to be able to stand in line – witnessing in that small way to their peers about where they stood on the question. The lines were so long that they ended up overlapping in the back of the room. In any other place I might have worried about people getting on each other while they waited – but there was none of that here. We disagree, but we love and respect each other. Please God – let this be a witness to the rest of the world about how people united in Christ can behave.

In the middle of the debates people sitting near me (and myself included) started to pray. I pulled out the prayer beads that I had found in the chapel at Trinity last week and started to hold them in my hand while I read the service of the Ordination of a Bishop in the Prayer Book. When I put my beads down, the person sitting next to me asked if she use them for a while. We shared the prayer beads and we shared our prayers. Then we voted.

At our seminary dinner last night the seminary faculty handed out little pins of the Berkeley crest. The motto of the school is printed on the bottom: “In illa qua ultra sunt” (Into the regions beyond – or – Into the unknown.) I decided that was what I wanted to have on me today – a statement of faith that God is leading our church into a place we’ve not been before. But it wasn’t the first time something like this has happened. In fact it’s happened again and again in the life of our congregation – and it happened again today. God asks us to be faithful, even if we’re afraid. The first missionaries in America knew this – and now maybe my generation will know this too. God is sovereign and God’s will can not be frustrated. So into the unknown! God is calling us to a new adventure of love and ministry. I couldn’t think of a better slogan for what has happened today…

My favorite line as we continued with the work of Convention while we waited for the results of the vote: We can’t confirm this action on the part of the House of Bishops – the software we’re using to run this convention won’t accept the word “confirmation” when we type it in. I’m sure there’s a message in that somewhere.

When the message came that the House has consented to Robinson’s election there where no demonstrations other than smiles and tears quietly shared between friends. No one wanted to gloat – and no one wanted to make this harder for each other than it already has been. It was our church at its best. Disagreeing and yet loving. Finding something to build unity upon in the midst of things that we know we divide at this moment.

I spent the last part of the night visiting with friends of mine who are part of the AAC and talking with them about their feelings. While we sat in front of our hotel a young (apparently homeless) man came up and asked us for 2 dollars so he could get a bed for the night at one of the local missions. We pooled our resources and came up with the money – and then we talked with him about how God speaks to us all. He told us (3 priests) about how God had recently come and spoken to him in a dream. And how he knew that God was an awesome God – who wanted us to know and to love each other.

Thanks for the message – and the angel God. It been a day when we’ve been reminded that you are always near at hand – and you come to us in people and ways that we don’t expect.

We had the Seminary Dinners


We had the Seminary Dinners last night. Yale-Berkeley’s dinner was down the street at the Minneapolis Club. There were three members of my class at the dinner, and a number of people that I knew who had graduated in the years immediately before my own (’91). Somehow we managed to import the essence of Yale in Conneticut into that room. Maybe it was the dark wood and tastefully painted walls – maybe it was hearing the familiar cadences of Seminary speech – either way, it was a fun. We did run out of forks however for desert. (We Yalies know that you use a different fork for the salad and for the entree – they didn’t bring us another fork for our desert. Sewanee and Viginia were having their dinners upstairs in the building – apparently they didn’t have the issue with forks that we did. Not surprising I suppose…) Grin.

The morning is going to taken up with the Festival Eucharist and UTO ingathering. I’ve heard from many how impressive a service this is going to be – I’m looking forward to it. We meet this afternoon to take up the issue of consent to Robinson’s election. It feels like a day that history is going to be made. The Church is all over the news this morning, it’s the lead story on CNN and you can see the media presence all over the place. I’m praying that whatever happens we will witness to the world our own unique way of treating each other with civility while disaggreeing.

The most hopeful news that I’ve heard from the halls is that either way, no one is leaving the Convention. (There were some significant rumors that AAC people were going to walk out if they lost the vote this afternoon.) I’ve been repeatedly assured that they are going to stay and fight. Hooray! We need all the parts of the Body of Christ. We may not say that “we have no need of you” to anyone in the Church.

Pray for God’s Holy Spirit to be in the very air we breathe this afternoon. We seek to know and do God’s will. May God give us the courage to do whatever God is calling us to do.

So the fun is really


So the fun is really getting ready to start now. We had all sorts of manuvering on the floor this afternoon while we tried to determine the rules for debate on Gene Robinson’s Consent scheduled now for tomorrow’s session. I’m going to copy the section of the Constitution describing the Rules of Debate for the House of Deputies so I can follow along. I’m sure you can download a copy of the canons for yourself at if you’re interested in following along.

In MUCH better news, Convention approved a significant increase in funds made available for AIDS development grants in the next trienium. 300k instead of 100k was approved. It’s good to see us putting our money where our mouths are.

Interesting that the Diocese of New Hampshire and the Diocese of Fort Worth collaborated on the issue. At least we now know that the roof of the convention hall is well supported and doesn’t fall down on us easily. We may make another test tomorrow.

I’m off to my seminary dinner tonight. I’ve heard about these for years, but never been to one. Hopefully I’ll know someone there – I haven’t done a very good job keeping up with where people I went to school have been living their lives. If nothing else, I’ll get some more catching up done tonight.

I spent the afternoon talking to teenagers about the vocation of being a physicist. I only had a few kids – but once they sat down with me, they didn’t leave. We called ourselves the Venus Fly Trap table. Their energy and enthusiam for the coming adventures of their lives is wonderfully restoring. I can’t think of a better way to have spent the afternoon we had off.

(Thanks Karen for the b-day present. I’ll put it to good use over the next week. I love you.)

I forgot to add –


I forgot to add –
We had two resolutions about the disease of AIDS move to the floor of the House yesterday. One of the resolutions was about committing this church to the observance of the International Day of Prayer for AIDS (usually in the fall.) It passed overwhelmingly. The second was a resolution that orginally just dealt with the effects of the disease locally and nationally. The resolution was modified in committee to include the international crisis as well. Deputies stood to commend the committee on the addition of language. It too passed overwhelmingly.

Two of our senior deputies pointed out to me the profound change they just witnessed. They said that 10 years ago there would have been much more conflict on these resolutions and more attempts to derail them rather than pass them. Now we all agree that the disease is the problem we need to focus on.

Contrast that with the strong emotions and statements shared on the floor when we discussed a policy statement on the issue of Genetic Research (stem cells in specific). The statement passed with slight amendement, but it was a much closer vote. People here are still in process on this subject – on the issue of AIDS and our need to act in the face of the looming crisis, we are not in process anymore.

Just back from grabbing a


Just back from grabbing a bowl of chili after the Hearings on the creation of same gender relationship liturgies.

My strongest impression of the night – beyond the extraordinary eloquence and civility of the speakers – is the harmony that was there when we sang. The Committee on Prayer Book, Music and Liturgy has a practice of regular prayer and song as part of their meeting. At the end of the amazingly crowded hearing tonight – in which dear and old friends of mine (and new ones too) spoke on the matter we’re all talking about – we stood and sang a Taize chant. The whole room sang the chant through once in unison – and then spontaneously broke into harmony the second time – and then extraordinary sound on the third time.

We sang with one voice in harmony as people will sing together after they’ve sung together for years. We sang just in the way Mother Laura (our assoc. rector) tries to get us to sing at Trinity in our Taize services – listening to each other and singing with each other, not at each other. It was heart-breakingly beautiful. People from Claiming the Blessing were singing with people from the AAC and you couldn’t tell where one voice started and the other stopped. Just like our common life in God.

If we take away one of the voices – or a whole group of voices – the music is changed. It’s diminished. The sound we heard came as if it were being sung by people who have sung together their whole life. (Which I guess in an almost literal way they have.)

I know now why this issue is so hard. We so deeply love the people we disagree with. It would be so much easier to just dismiss them as the devil’s spawn like the protestors tonight have done of us. But seeing Jesus in the faces of our friends means we can’t ignore and we must hear them.

The people from the Diocese (+Paul, Jan and Hilary) were wonderful – and I have so much admiration for all the hard work they have to do. The work of my committee is much easier by comparison, and I should be done by Sunday. I intend to go back to Prayer Book and Liturgy hearings when I can. I want to hear the music again.