In Honor

rainbow

In Celebration of the Supreme Court’s courageous decision

and in honor of LGBTQ community of the Diocese of Rochester.

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Who’s the Celebrant – Who’s the Preacher?

The Daily worship bulletins, available online only, don’t list the Celebrant and Preacher for each service.  Though the list has been published before on this blog … here it is again in a better format:

Thursday, June 25: Opening Eucharist
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside and preach.

Friday, June 26: honoring Isabel Hapgood, women poets and musicians
Presider: Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles
Preacher: the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, President of the House of Deputies

Saturday, June 27: honoring Native American Cornelius Hill;
Presider: Bishop Michael Smith of North Dakota
Preacher: The Rev. Cathlena Plummer of Navajoland

Sunday, June 28: United Thank Offering Ingathering
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside and preach.

Monday, June 29: honoring St. Peter and St. Paul
Presider: Bishop Mike Klusmeyer of West Virginia
Preacher: Archbishop Vicken Aykazian of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church in America

Tuesday, June 30: honoring James Weldon Johnson
Presider: Bishop Wendell Gibbs of Michigan
Preacher: The Rev. Kimberly Jackson, chaplain and vicar of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center, Emmaus House Chapel, Atlanta

Wednesday, July 1: honoring Hiram Hisanori Kano
Presider: Bishop Scott Hayashi of Utah
Preacher: The Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms

Thursday, July 2: honoring  Charles Barnes
Presider: Bishop Julio Holguin of the Dominican Republic
Preacher: The Rev. Colin Mathewson, St Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego (Diocese of San Diego)

Friday, July 3: Closing Eucharist
Presider: Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
Preacher: Bishop Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop-Elect

Day 3 at General Convention

My Day 3 began with worship, a welcome change from 7:30 am Committee Hearings. It turns out that, for me at least, worship is a better way to start day. Go figure. Once again we were blessed with excellent music and preaching, preparing us for the day’s exciting task of electing and confirming our next Presiding Bishop. I want to say a bit about that process, but will first break the suspense:

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The Rt. Rev Michael B. Curry, Bishop of North Carolina has been elected as our 27th Presiding Bishop! Bishop Curry will begin his 9 year term on November 1, just a few weeks before joining us as preacher for the Rochester Diocesan Convention at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva (his alma mater).

The process was a bit cumbersome, but I will try to sum up. The Bishops were sequestered in St. Mark’s Cathedral to vote, while the House of Deputies remained in session. A representation from the House of Bishops arrived shortly before 1:00 to alter us that they had indeed elected a Presiding Bishop-Elect. Our role, as House of Deputies, is to consent to this election. This report was passed on to a committee who were charged with reviewing the results of the election and then bringing a recommendation to the House of Deputies. I should mention that, at this point, the results of the election had not been shared with the wider House. President Jennings attempted to recess the House of Deputies for lunch, but was met with jeers from deputies clearly wanting to remain in session until we could officially welcome the new Presiding Bishop. The committee returned with a recommendation to consent, and Bishop Curry, along with his family and North Carolina deputation, were welcomed by the House.

I am thrilled with the results of this process and pray for Bishop Curry as he prepares to lead our Church over the next 9 years. On a logistical level, I think this process highlighted the need to adapt technologies and methods to streamline. The fact that several thousand deputies, alternates and visitors had to wait while a group physically delivered a report from across town seemed a bit dated. I understand the need for due process, but suspect the election of the 28th Presiding Bishop will be altered slightly.

Naturally, the late afternoon session paled in comparison. Several resolutions were presented, including a resolution aimed at addressing alcoholism and addiction with those entering the discernment process leading to Holy Orders.

Paul and I spent the evening attending the Program, Budget and Finance meeting. This was the most well organized of the committee hearings I have attended, and I thank the committee for keeping conversation focused. Over $12 million of unfunded requests were made, some for $30,000, some for $3 million. I do not envy the committee’s task of wading through all these requests. My prayers are with them over the next few days – I look forward to reading their final report and recommendations. I anticipate this report will be the cause of much discussion and debate on the floor of the House of Deputies.

OK, off to get ready for an early morning peace march – thanks to Bishop Singh for altering us and inviting us to participate. I’m grateful to my wonderful wife, Jenny, for preaching at Incarnation this morning so that I can be here. I still not sure why she said “yes” (to my marriage proposal, that is) but I’m sure glad she did.

Blessings and peace,

Chris Streeter, Clergy Deputy

General Convention Musings – Brad Benson

It is Day Three of Convention and just about every minute, I am in awe of the power of this gathering. This morning we were greeted at morning Eucharist with the majestic sound of a Native American drum circle. Each day’s worship takes on a different flavor. Yesterday was jazz.  We honored the feast day of an Oneida chief from New York State (!) who became a priest and went on to lead his people in a struggle for justice.

The diversity of this body is amazing and I am relishing looking at everyone’s faces.  It reminds me that our Church is so widespread.  Worship has been in English, Spanish and Italian so far.  This, in turn, reminds me of the breadth of God’s creation and I am humbled beyond measure.

While I am here to represent a diocese, right now, the experience of this all is very personal. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision transformed my life(!!).  For a few years now I have rejoiced to be able to say, “This is my husband Carl.”  Unless you have walked in my shoes, you have no idea how liberating it is to have your marriage viewed as “normal”.  And now, that joy can spread to literally millions of others.  Never in my life have I cried so many tears of joy. Praise God.

Justice and expanding the tent are definitely two themes of convention, either deliberately or by its nature. I rejoice that my Church is engaged boldly in these two directions.

The other thought I have this morning is informed by an article that I read by a famous travel guide author. He summed up many of our tribulations in the admonishment that WE should get out more.  Convention is a reinforcement of that for me.  We really do need to GET OUT MORE and mix it up with others.  That goes for the local level as well. Listen and learn and love others around you, even if they are from another country, state, county or neighborhood.  There we will see God.

I wish everyone could be here.  The convention center is big, but not that big!  I have already made mental plans for how I will bring some of this immensely moving spirit that I’m feeling here back to the pews of my parish. More comments to come.

As a native American flutist filled the huge worship space with his lilting tone, the bishops of the Church left en masse to go to the local cathedral and vote on the next Presiding Bishop.  I wish our bishop had asked our opinion of the candidates, but I’ll assume he has been studying them far more closely than I.  I will trust that the Spirit will lead to the best choice–as it certainly was with Katherine.  I’m excited for the future.  Amen and amen.

The Rev. J. Brad Benson
Rector, St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church
Bath NY USA

Day 2 of General Convention

As it is after midnight, I anticipate that my Friday reflections will be (mercifully) shortly than previous entries. My Friday began with a 7:30 am Governance and Structure committee meeting reviewing the previous night’s hearing. Members were pleased with the turnout and noted the diversity of opinions voiced. Some voiced interest in what the afternoon’s joint discussion on structure would yield.

Worship today was led musically by the Theodicy Jazz Collective. What a treat! For those interested, worship bulletins from all 9 days of General Convention are available for viewing here.

Next we entered into a joint session of the Houses of Deputies and Bishops to formally nominate candidates for Presiding Bishop and discuss the structure of our Church. Structure conversations were conducted in small groups around the areas of General Convention, Executive Council, Provinces and Dioceses. I volunteered to serve of clerk of our group and sent a summary of our discussion to our leadership. We are told they will collate and redistribute within the next few days.

After a quick lunch, it was back to legislative committee, where the group discussed the solutions harvested from the joint session.  A second legislative session followed at 4:30, where we debated several motions including a proposed “Donor Bill of Rights” for those who contribute financial resources to the mission and ministry of the Church.

After a long day of legislation, I was grateful to spend dinner with Paul at a Mexican restaurant I had heard of through several online sources.

Red Iguana

Those who know me know that I like good food. This was hands down the best Mexican food I have ever tasted. There were several fantastic Mexican restaurants in Arlington and DC that I enjoyed during my seminary days, but none can hold a candle to the Red Iguana. Please, if you are ever in Salt Lake City, do yourself and your taste buds a favor and eat here!

After one of the most fantastic meals of my life, we headed back to our hotel to enjoy time with our Rochester Deputation. Bishop Singh organized a festive evening to celebrate today’s ruling of the Supreme Court. It was a humbling privilege to sit with many who have prayed for this day, uncertain that they would see it in their lifetime. My children will now grow up in a world where the dignity and freedom of every human being is the established law of the land. What a day.

Tomorrow the House of Deputies will wait in anticipation to consent to the Election of the Presiding Bishop. Keep the House of Bishops in your prayers as they discern who will lead our Church for the next 9 years.

Blessings and peace,

Chris Streeter, Clergy Deputy

Friday (I think…)

It’s hard to remember what day it is because General Convention has a rhythm all of itself. I notice that while there are still a number of quite well-dressed deputies (seer sucker suits, pastel dress pants, bow ties, and pocket squares are de rigueur for the sharply dressed male deputy), there seem to be more jeans, shorts, and t-shirts today. I’m grateful, frankly. General Convention is rough on your feet and I gave up on dress shoes this morning in favor of cross trainers. General Convention is also rough on your rear end, but I haven’t come up with a solution for that.

Today started for me at 7:30 am with the Congregational Vitality committee. After feeling like things were a bit chaotic and disorganized for the last two days, today the committee really got down to business.   Buoyed by some good news regarding funding from the Program, Budget & Finance committee (which is responsible for the budget), they passed A086, which creates a network for Latino-Hispanic Congregational Development with $1.5 million, D009, which creates a new staff position and resources for congregational development with $700,000, and A015, which supports an existing plan for helping Province IX move towards sustainability. The resolutions that include money have to also go through Program, Budget, & Finance (PB & F), so I’ll be watching their agenda and may get to check out that committee. The discussion was interesting. There are no ‘promises’ from PB & F, so there is some strategy involved in deciding how much to ask for, and worries that if they fund one of the congregational vitality initiatives it may mean less money for another congregational vitality initiative.

In the middle of the hearing, there was a roar from the committee next door. It turned out that this was not a celebration of the addition of an especially exciting saint to the liturgical calendar. Rather, the Supreme Court decision on marriage had been announced. About an hour later as the entire convention gathered for worship, there was celebration in the air. I have to say that twenty-five years ago I could never have imagined our country or our church getting to this day. Children born today will always have lived in a country where equal marriage is the law. I honestly cannot begin to imagine how this may shape their lives, or, in fact, the common life of our country in the years to come.

Worship was uplifting, with music from a spectacular jazz band, a great sermon from the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, all presided over by Bishop Mary Glasspool of Los Angeles.

Following worship, there was a joint session of deputies and bishops. We heard a brief address from the archbishop of Brazil on the occasion of that church’s 125th anniversary. The Joint Nominating Committee for the Presiding Bishop formally nominated the four candidates for presiding bishop. The rest of the session was an extended table conversation about church structure. Each group was asked to reflect on how various structures of the church help parishes do mission (the General Convention, Executive Council and Church Center staff, Provinces, and Dioceses). If you saw cryptic tweets on my Facebook page, they were my attempt to report back from our table conversation to the legislative Committee on Governance and Structure (this General Convention is trying very hard to be as up-to-date, tech-wise, as possible). In looking at tweets hashtagged #gcgas, it’s clear that there is a WIDE diversity of views on the value of all the current structures of our church.  I don’t know what I think this means for re-structuring efforts.

At 1 pm, I had lunch with our deputation (finally!), which was great, thanks to Kristy Estey. Congregational Vitality met once again at 2:15. They discussed D005 (the reach- for-the-moon church planting resolution I’ve referred to earlier). Ultimately there were still too many details to iron out for the resolution to be reported out. After determining that the deputies and bishops had not worked out their differences on A012 and A085, the committee adjourned until this evening.

The early adjournment of the committee let me get out of the Salt Palace for a bit. The facilities are certainly top-notch; however, there are only so many hours that one can spend in large, relatively dark, windowless, aggressively air-conditioned rooms, so it was a treat to walk around downtown Salt Lake City for a little bit. It has been in the mid to high 90’s here all week, but it hasn’t felt too oppressive. Salt Lake City seems to be built on a very flat basin, nested between mountain ranges, which you can see rising from what seems just blocks away. The streets downtown are all very wide, and I understand from a deputy from Utah that the city was designed this way because Brigham Young (the early Mormon leader) wanted to ensure that an oxen cart could make a U-turn on any downtown street.

I’m now observing the afternoon legislative session of the House of Deputies. The new rules of order passed yesterday allow legislation from committees to be placed on a consent calendar, which means they are all passed at one time – a real gift to a deliberative body of 840 members. Dozens of uncontroversial pieces of legislation can be dealt with a single vote. Committees can ask that their resolutions be taken off the consent calendar for individual consideration; resolutions may also be taken off the consent calendar by petition of three deputies. Today’s consent calendar passed with no objection. Many of the rest of the resolutions have passed without debate. One resolution, proposing a “Donor Bill of Rights,” modeled on similar ‘bills of rights’ to other non-profits resulted in relatively extensive debate and several proposed amendments. Questions about the theology of stewardship represented by such a ‘bill of rights’ ultimately resulted in its defeat.

An odd operating procedure of the House of Deputies: a resolution can be reported by committees to the house with the recommendation that it be rejected. This means the House still has to debate and vote on a resolution that the committee thinks is a bad idea. It’s an odd system, especially in a House that meets for only nine days every three years where time is at a premium.

Most of the resolutions coming before the House today are the easier, less controversial issues. I’m sure debate will heat up in the days to come. Evening plans are still in flux, so I’ll update tomorrow. My parish, my friends in Rochester, my cats, my house, my family are on my heart and mind this evening: it has been a very, very long week.

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.

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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