Day 1 of General Convention

General Convention officially opened yesterday morning with an 8:00 am Legislative Session. Time was spent formally electing officers of Convention, affording us further opportunities to explore the virtual binder and deputy smartcards.

Virtual Binder

Smartcard

The highlight of my morning was most certainly the worship service. Great music and strong preaching. What a gift to have worship offered every day of Convention, helping ground us and remind us of why we’re all here! Carl and I walked into the worship space together, and ended up finding a third voice for our worship trio.

Worship Trio

Thanks Carl and Bishop Gene for making the singing extra fun (by the way, Gene Robinson has some serious singing chops).

Legislative Committees held back to back sessions in the early and mid-afternoon. I spent my time following the work of Committee #5 – Governance and Structure. The attendance was much higher today, and the committee spent time reviewing comments from last night’s open hearing and anticipating the flood of testimonies expected at the hearing scheduled for later that evening. Much of the focus and debate centered around the role and authority of several governing bodies, including the Presiding Bishop’s office and staff, Executive Council, and the General Convention itself. If you would like to dig deeper into this issue, I would invite you to review the most recent edition of Deputy News. I found the opening “Who’s in Charge” article to be a helpful springboard into this discussion. I also commend the essays regarding the position of Executive Director. We know that many non-profit organizations utilize this kind of position to help run the day to day business of the institution. The overarching rationale here, it seems to me, is that it frees up the head of the organization (in our case the Presiding Bishop) to do the kind of visioning and leading that only he or she can do, rather than devoting much of that time and energy into managing staff and daily operations. In our context, the case is being made that the Presiding Bishop could enjoy increased focus on being chief pastor to the bishops of the Church. I appreciate the spirit of this resolution. As a Rector and parish priest, I have found my ministry strengthened and supported by the generous pastoral care and oversight of my Bishop, allowing me to focus my energies into being the best pastor I can be to the people of the parish. I would wish this same level of care for the bishops of our Church, and actively support measures aimed at furthering that goal.

A second legislative session found us reviewing and ultimately adopting new rules of order for the House of Deputies. These new rules represent a ton of effort begun at the 2012 General Convention to help make the way the house goes about its business more accessible and understandable. Particular effort was placed on eliminating unnecessarily tedious wording (for those who do not conduct their daily lives in accordance with Robert’s Rules). Several amendments were introduced, affording us the chance to test the new smartcard system when an amendment wrinkle is thrown into the debate mix. Sorry to say, it’s not as exciting as it sounds. What’s that? It doesn’t sound at all exciting to you? Well, it’s even less exciting when you’re on the floor.

Our 7:00 pm opening hearing for Committee #5 was jam packed. I’ll bet the committee members were sorry they had wished for increased attendance just 24 hours earlier. God hears our prayers, and their prayer was answered but good. Lively testimony was offered both for and against reducing the role of Executive Council and eliminating the current Provincial structure. I anticipate there will be much debate on the floor around these issues.

I was pleased to reconnect with Paul after the hearing – we hadn’t seen each other all day, and I was beginning to feel a little Paul withdrawal. We enjoyed a burger at the Beehive Pub.

Beerhive-Pub-300x222

Besides the joy of spending time with Paul, this outing allowed me to experience some of the preferred ways Utahans cook up a burger. Firstly, the whole business is slathered with fry sauce. You say fry sauce, I say thousand island – we all win. Another trend is topping your burger with pastrami. Turns out this is inspired.

A highlight of tomorrow’s schedule is a joint session focused on the Presiding Bishop nominations and conversations around structure. Given my attendance at the Governance and Structure meetings these past few days, I will be curious to hear the debate from both houses. Thank for your continued support, curiosity and prayers!

Blessings and peace,

Chris Streeter, Clergy Deputy

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