Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ministry In Nevada: Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow

Last Saturday was a lovely homecoming at the shore of Lake Tahoe. We dedicated the Frensdorff Lodge before a crowd of over 100 people, including Wes's family and the staff and colleagues who serve with him here in that golden age of Nevada ministy. We heard warm reminiscences of Bishop Wes and Dee. It was an honor and a joy to be with all that gathered family of faith. This is what Church really is. You won't find the Church in rules or dogmas. Church is the Holy Spirit incarnate in human lives like these.

Then it was off to St. Peter's, Carson City to ordain Kim Morgan and Mike Patteson to the transitional diaconate. What a head snap -- from Nevada's past to Nevada's future! Traditon -- traditio -- handing on. The saga continues. Praise God.

The next morning was all about ministry here and now. We had a liturgical extravaganza at St. Peter's with a raft of confirmations and receptions, plus a baby blessing. St. Peter's not only does exciting, innovative liturgy -- the best educational programs this side of Trinity, Wall Street -- and upscale fellowship -- St. Peter's does first rate creative ministry in the community. Circles of Support doesn't just put bandaids on poverty; it helps people break free of poverty's hold. And St. Peter's is a leader in Food For Thought. They feed low income students in their public school. This is precisely the kind of partnership with schools endorsed by General Convention, the kind of partnership we are seeing develop around the diocese. My heart is full with joy at what the good people of St. Peter's are doing, thanks to God, and also thanks to the leadership of Fr. Jeff Paul who has been God's agent of change in Carson City.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pastoral Letter To Nevada Episcopalians

Brothers and sisters in Christ, the 76th Convention of the Episcopal Church is drawing to a close. It has been a benchmark in our common life, the beginning of an exciting new stage in our mission. So many things were accomplished.

Among the most important were: The adoption of the Charter for Lifelong Christian Formation. This charter gives structure and encouragement for our efforts in the Frensdorff School. It marks the Christian life as one of ongoing learning and commits the church to being a learning community.

We endorsed parish partnerships with local schools. Nevada’s developing partnership with Communities in Schools puts us on this track already. It is not acceptable that only 44% of our Nevada children graduate from high school. We can do better.

Several bold steps were taken to strengthen evangelism. The most important for Nevada is a process for training and licensing lay evangelists. I hope every Nevada congregation will have a licensed lay evangelist soon and that they will form a dynamic network for sharing the gospel of Jesus with our neighbors.

We formed a Provincial Partnership with the Church in Brazil, set up a plan for shared mission projects with Anglican churches in the Americas, and strengthened the program of companion diocese relationships. Nevada presently does not have such a relationship but we are negotiating a partnership with the Diocese of Santiago in the Philippines. This is a more important way of being a Communion than formal mechanisms and institutional structures that do not have the human ties of diocese to diocese and parish to parish bonds.

We provided pensions for lay employees, reduced our health insurance costs, reformed the disciplinary process, and passed a budget against all odds.

We had some opportunities to depart from the traditional faith of the church. There were resolutions deleting the word “virgin” from descriptions of Mary in our prayers and authorizing alternative forms of the Baptismal Covenant. We did not do these things. The bishops and deputies were emphatically orthodox.

But none of this, or the many other important and constructive things we did at Convention, will capture the headlines. The journalists are exclusively interested in our actions dealing with the inclusion of partnered gay and lesbian couples in the life of the Church. We passed two such resolutions. I voted for both of them. Some of you may think we went too far. Others may think we did not go far enough. That is perfectly ok. As Episcopalians, we are free to hold different beliefs about issues of doctrine. I am not trying to convince you that we were right. But I do want you to know and to understand what we did and what we did not do.

Some people want to interpret the resolutions one way; some, another. There is some ambiguity that is open to interpretation. We are after all Anglicans and that’s how Anglicans talk. But there are reasonable limits on fair interpretation. I want to tell you how I see these resolutions. You may want them to be a great step forward. I do not want you to be disappointed if they do not live up to raised expectations. You may think they are the worst thing we’ve done ever. I do not want you to be more distressed than necessary. These are definitely resolutions intended to affirm and include gay and lesbian persons, but I do not believe they are as great a change as they appear in the newspapers, let alone the blogs. So let me tell you about these two resolutions.

The resolution pertaining to ordination begins with an extensive statement of our commitment to the Anglican Communion. That takes up at least half the resolution. It then says two more things: First, it acknowledges that God has in the past called partnered gay and lesbian persons into all of the orders of ministry, and that they have served us faithfully. Second, it acknowledges that God may call such persons in the future and we do our discernment of calls in accordance with the canons of our church.

How does this change things? With regard to the ministries of laity, priests, and deacons, not at all. The possible change would be about bishops. But just how much of a change is there for potential bishops? Less than the newspapers suggest. In 2006, the General Convention asked those involved in calling bishops to use “restraint” in consecrating bishops whose “manner of life” might be contrary to the values of other parts of the Anglican Communion. I am paraphrasing. “Manner of life” was understood to mean partnered gay bishops. The consecration of such persons was not banned. The 2006 Resolution was a call for restraint as part of the discernment.

Resolutions to repeal that restraint policy were considered and rejected before ever reaching the floor of Convention. The new resolution does not explicitly repeal the call for restraint. It merely says that we do our discernment process in accordance with our own canons, as we have always done. Gay and lesbian people were not excluded from the discernment process, even for the episcopacy, even after 2006. Some journalists have portrayed the situation as if gay and lesbian persons were excluded from the discernment process before and now the gates have been thrown open. For better or worse, the shift in this resolution is not so dramatic.

The second resolution on same sex relationships also says two things: The first part is purely pastoral. Every resolution of the Episcopal Church mentioning homosexual persons since the early 1980’s has called upon the clergy to offer them pastoral care. The duty to afford pastoral care to gay and lesbian persons has been affirmed by the Lambeth Conference, the Windsor Report, and the Primates of the 39 Anglican Provinces. Every one of our clergy has taken vows to extend such care to “all” our people. So the principle is well established.

This Resolution notes that there has been a recent wave of law making and law changing concerning these relationships –some laws allowing gay marriage, some laws allowing civil unions, and other laws banning such unions. This new legal situation presents new pastoral challenges to which we must respond. The resolution says bishops “may” – not “must” but “may” – offer a “pastorally generous response.” What that means depends on the situation, the context, and the judgment of the bishop. The New York Times says it means blessing civil unions. But I never heard any bishop, liberal or conservative, define it that way. It could mean a special ritual or a prayer or a phone call. It’s up to the bishop. Pastoral generosity is not defined.

The second part of the resolution deals with developing theological and liturgical resources for same sex unions. There was no decision to authorize gay marriage or bless same sex unions. We worked with the language of the Resolution the best we could to make it clear that there is not a decision on that hard question. This Resolution requests the Liturgy and Music Commission to compile and develop theological and liturgical resources so that if and when we consider that issue in the future, we will have some examples to look at.

In 2006, we passed a resolution calling for restraint in “authorizing the blessing of same sex unions” until there has been time for an international conversation on the issue. We have exercised restraint for three years and will continue to exercise restraint while that conversation continues. That does not mean no one anywhere will ever bless a same sex union. The Primates have recognized some leeway for conscience in these matters. Well before General Convention, I assured our clergy that no one in Nevada would be disciplined for following their conscience on this question. That is still the case. The new resolution calls for pastoral generosity on the part of bishops. I hope I was already pastorally generous to all of our people and will try to always be so.

I hope and pray that we will respect each other’s feelings and values in these matters. We are called to love one another, not to agree with one another. In the Diocese of Nevada, we are exceptional at knowing where we stand and letting our neighbor do likewise. But not everyone is so mature. There may well be dissension in other dioceses and internationally. While this Convention was by a county mile the most harmonious Episcopal gathering in recent memory, we usually have some post-Convention uproar. So I ask you to hold the entire Anglican Communion in prayer as we come to terms with the aftermath of General Convention. Please pray also for one another and for the success of our new mission and ministry ventures for the sake of the gospel of Jesus here in Nevada.

May God bless you richly and keep you in holy peace.

Dan Edwards
Tenth Bishop of Nevada
This 15th Day of July, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Live From Anaheim VI

GLBT INCLUSION: Our Indaba Group met today for another couple of hours and did some serious negotiating over language. The end result was substantively similar to the original proposal but we adjusted the language to make it less challenging for those who were most uncomfortable with the resoltion. The substance is two fairly moderate points:

1. All the recent civil law changes in various jurisdictions create a new pastoral situation. The church is already committed to providing pastoral response to gay and lesbian people. So how do we respond to this new situation? Answer: Bishops are authorized to make “a generous pastoral response.” What that means depends on the situation and the judgment of the Bishop.

2. We asked the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to compile and develop theological and liturgical resources for same sex unions to be presented to the next Convention.

The Indaba Group went to some effort to rephrase this language to clarify that same sex blessings are not a conclusion we have reached, just a possibility we may consider in the future. If we do consider that action, we will have an example to look at. As one advocate for blessing same sex unions observed, there are a lot of liturgies out there, but there is no quality control and they lack an agreed upon theological basis. So it needs work before we can even think intelligently about the question. We tried to say that. But when the substitute resolution got to the floor of HOB, there were further refinements meant to emphasize that this is not a done deal. We are studying and developing possible rituals that may be considered in the future. When the dust settled, we passed the substitute Resolution by a vote of 104 to 30 to 2 – even more decisively than we had passed the resolution on ordination.

Bishop Gene Robinson emphasized: The caveat here is not to make more or less of the resolution than it really says. You recall I prophesied that some would misread D 025 (the ordination resolution). Well the very next day the headline of Episcopal Life’s daily newspaper covering the Convention was an inflammatory misreading of the resolution – sounding as if we had repealed B 033, the restraint resolution. Bishop Katharine apologized on behalf of the Communications Office responsible for that unfortunate spin.

We have acted in good faith, with forbearance, restraint, moderation, and generosity. But there will be reactivity in some quarters and there will be spin. In order to keep our feet on the ground and our hearts true to the faith, I hope we can share throughout the church the spirit of mutual caring we experienced in the Indaba process. Even those who voted against the Resolution said the process had been holy and they were committed to our continuing relationship.

BUDGET: The budget will be passed tomorrow. We just saw it today. The cuts are deep. A lot of folks have lost their jobs. However, Domestic Missionary Partnership, which funds some of our grants was cut by only 20%. I had feared it might be zeroed out. Some ethnic ministries, including Latino ministries, got increases that may actually help us. At present, my brain is mush so I cannot sort this out just yet. A few points of interest: The asking formula will be reduced to help small dioceses. Currently the first $100,000 of the budget is not subject to assessment. That will go up to $120,000. The assessment rate will be reduced by 1% in 2011, and another 1% in 2012. Convention will be shortened by 2 days. They will not publish the blue book (journal of resolutions and reports) in hard copy, just on line. Most committee meeting will be done on line instead of face to face in order to save money.

NEW LITURGIES: We gave final approval to all 4 of the existing volumes of Enriching Our Worship. The most interesting thing for us is the EOW liturgy for installing a new rector. The EOW version clearly grounds the rector’s ministry in the Ministry of All Baptized (MOAB) so it may help to correct the general misunderstanding of their ministry that we struggle with in Nevada. We also approved the trial use of EOW 5 which is for child death and related pastoral situations. And we authorized beginning the study process for a new Episcopal Hymnal.

LAY EVANGELISTS: We created a canon for licensing trained lay evangelists. This will help our Ministry Development Commission and Commission On Ministry to introduce this lay ministry in our parishes. I hope every parish will have a licensed lay evangelist as soon as possible. We can begin commissioning lay evangelists right away. Then we will develop the training and licensing process guided by the new canon.
HIV/AIDS CURRICULIUM: We adopted training and education materials for HIV/AIDS prevention.

THURGOOD MARSHALL: We added to the liturgical calendar a commemoration date for Thurgood Marshall, a devout Episcopalian, the NAACP attorney in Brown v. Board of Education, Attorney General of the United States, and the first African American Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

In the midst of all this legislative work, we had another fantastic Eucharist today. Bishop Steven Charleston preached a passionate call to an environmental gospel. There was a great jazz musical setting for the liturgy. Linda is singing in the Convention choir. My friend and classmate Bishop Mary Gray Reeves, celebrated, alternating English and Spanish. Tonight we went to L A Nights, an emergent church artsy worship service with evangelist Brian McClaren, author of many good books including A Generous Orthodoxy. And now to all a good night.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Live From Anaheim V.5

The proposal on same sex unions hit an emotional gridlock today expressed as a parliamentary tangle. Tonight a self-selected group of 30 bishops met from 9 to 11 p.m. in the Indaba Group style we learned at Lambeth. We told our stories, shared hopes and fears, described the communities in which we minister. We have just closed with prayer and gone to our rooms to pray alone and "sleep on it" quite literally, keeping an eye on our dreams.

We will gather again and resume the process tomorrow at 7 a.m. and continue until 9:15, when we have to go back into legislative session. I don't know what will happen on the floor of the House of Bishops, but we grew much closer tonight. We were left, right, and center -- north, south, east, and west -- older and younger -- veterans and rookies. All those lines were crossed to form personal bonds. It doesn't mean we will vote the same. But it does mean our votes will not break our commitment to each other in Christ.

Live From Anaheim V

GLBT INCLUSION: I have been hoping there would be Inclusion Resolutions I could support. In that respect D 025 was a blessing. It is a mostly well-crafted resolution affirming our commitment to the Anglican Communion and affirming the ministry of gay and lesbian people in all orders of ministry. I could readily endorse those principles especially when held together in the same resolution. After passing the House of Deputies by a margin of about 2 to 1, it passed the House of Bishops by a vote of 99-45-2. I was pleased to be voting along with Bishop Katharine in support of this Resolution. I was also pleased to see the provisional bishops for San Joachim, Pittsburgh, Fort Worth, and Quincy support it. That’s the good news.

The down side is that any resolutions we pass (or reject for that matter) are open to interpretation. D 025 is no exception. This resolution will be interpreted by some in divisive ways that will wound the Church and impair our mission. There will be a price to be paid in some of our other dioceses, in our international relationships, and in Anglican churches in developing nations. But the Resolution simply acknowledges what we have already discerned and affirms that we will continue discerning calls to ministry following our own canons. I feel we have done the right thing. Now it is time to pray and exercise forbearance with one another as we proceed with Christ’s mission.

Today we took up a resolution to study and develop rites for same sex unions to be formally considered in 2012. The Liturgy and Music Commission and Theology Committee would be acting in parallel and in communication. I support this more readily than I supported D 025 – but then came the amendments and amendments of amendments. The resolution is currently caught up in a parliamentary tangle. Some folks think it doesn’t go far enough fast enough, but their efforts to amend it at this point could torpedo the whole thing. I hope we can get it worked out to the satisfaction of all.

COMMUNITIES IN SCHOOLS: We have just passed a resolution encouraging parishes to form partnerships with local public schools to insure the education and well being of children in our communities. This is what Nevada has already begun this year through our developing partnership with Communities in Schools. It is great to have the whole church getting behind our mission and to know we are ahead of the curve. BTW, I did not introduce the resolution. It is out of New York. But I did speak in support.

LIFE LONG CHRISTIAN FORMATION: We passed the Charter for Life Long Christian Formation. This is precisely what our Ministry Development Commission and the Frensdorff School for Christian Formation are about. The new Charter will give them a boost. It calls for each diocese to develop a plan for lifelong Christian education. Again, it’s good to see Nevada just ahead of the curve.

5 MARKS OF MISSION: We endorsed the 5 Marks of Mission articulated by the Anglican Consultative Council: Proclaiming the gospel; baptizing and forming new Christians; acts of mercy; social justice advocacy, and sustaining the environment.

LATINO EVANGELISM: We asked for the allocation $3.5 million for Latino evangelism, with a goal to increase the number of Latino congregations by 15% in the next three years and to increase attendance in existing Latino congregations by 30%. We voted to fund Spanish language curricula for church camps and for use in Province 9 (our largely Spanish speaking dioceses outside the US). Todos Los Santos in Las Vegas is ahead of the Latino ministries curve but Nevada as a whole is not. I plan to ask for seed money from the diocese to grow our Latino ministries next year, and then explore other funding options to make this a major priority in Nevada for the following years.

COMPANION RELATIONSHIPS: We revised the curriculum of College for Bishops to help new bishops develop international companion relationships such as the one Nevada is working on with the Diocese of Santiago, Philippines. 20 Provinces around the world have sent visitors to this convention. 13 of the visitors are the Primates of their Province. We formed a Companion Province relationship with Brazil, which is particularly good because Brazil will support us in the wake of the other decisions made here. And we endorsed common mission projects by Anglican Churches in the Americas. So we should have more chances to work together with fellow Anglicans in the Western Hemisphere.

NATIVE MINISTRIES: We endorsed a program for domestic poverty with a focus on community development projects in Native communities. We also endorsed a plan to protect Indigenous burial sites.

HEALTH INSURANCE FOR CHURCH EMPLOYEES: A canon was passed requiring all Dioceses to participate in the Medical Trust of the Episcopal Church. Nevada already participates so this will reduce our premiums a bit in the near future and a great deal in the long run. It is a particular boon to small dioceses. We will be asking parishes to study and discuss health care issues on the United States.

DISCIPLINARY CANONS: Title IV, the canon law for disciplining clerical miscreants, has been in the process of revision since the year 2,000. A completed new Title IV was submitted in 2006 and shot down. Now, after 9 years of work, we have it back, new and improved. This time it passed.

EVANGELISM: Multiple evangelism resolutions passed including covenant partnerships with other mainline denominations; strategies for evangelism, and an innovators network.

Along the way, we were greeted today by the interfaith clergy of Los Angeles. A male trio sang a blesssing for us -- a Christian in English, a Muslim in Arabic, and a Jew in Hebrew -- all singing together. Yesterday we had a great children's choir from the Bronx offering an African folk song and folk dance. I enjoyed a dinner with my bishop schoolmates (class of 08) last night. It was good to have fellowship with my friends after a long hard day of legislation.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Live From Anaheim IV.5

Addendum to post earlier today:

I forgot to mention a high point of the Eucharist today was Elisabeth von Trapp singing Peace Perfect Peace during Communion. A low point is that two bishops and one lay person were taken from the congregation to the hospital. All are doing fine.

I have gotten some questions over recent weeks about the Theology Committee's study on same sex relationships. I have not known much about it so I have not been able to provide much information. I know a little more now.

The study of same sex relationships from a theological perspective was initiated by the House of Bishops in March, 2008. Surprising it took us this long to begin sorting out the underlying doctrinal issues. This study in our church is running parallel to similar studies being done in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This is the international study and conversation we did not have prior to 2003.

One popular misconception is that there is no GLBT representation on the Committee. There are actually two homosexual theologians on the committee, both partnered, and in fact married to their partners. One, I am told, has written extensivly on the issues before the committee. The other I know well and respect deeply. She is a noted feminist Biblical scholar and has fought aggressively for GLBT inclusion.

While gathering the different views expressed in the Church is an initial part of their process, the Committee is working toward resolution. Of course, in the Anglican tradtion, our resolutions tend to remain rather open-ended as revelation and discernment never end. But the Committee does aspire to some statement, not just a compendium of opinions.

The Committee is a bit behind schedule, but there has never been a plan or expectation for a final report this soon. The fact that their work is unfinished does not mean nothing can be done about liturgy until the theology is fixed. But some theological clarification would be helpful in the view of some. It is a signficant factor, but not a decisive factor standing alone.

Live From Lambeth IV

The first issue for Stewardship Committee yesterday was a Resolution calling on all Episcopalians to contribute 80 cents per year to foreign missions. This would double the number of missionaries in the field. This is of special interest to Nevada as one of our young adults is a candidate for the Young Adult Service Corps. Our closing hymn in Eucharist today was “Publish Glad Tidings.” The resolution passed and will go on to the floor.

The House of Bishops (HOB) had passed and then rescinded the Resolution for Mission Funding. This is akin to a capital campaign. It is a 6-year drive to raise money for mission through large gifts. We all know it needs doing, but it has already begun and there is much dissatisfaction with the way it is being done. So Stewardship (mostly Bishop Mathes of San Diego) reworked the Resolution to call for backing up and getting it right before going forward. With those changes, the Resolution readily passed the Committee and then passed HOB with no opposition and only one abstention. This would fund things like new church plants in dioceses who don’t have the resources on their own. That would be us.

Yesterday’s HOB legislative session began with presentations from two youth delegates. They were an inspiration. The first thing that impressed me is that they did not repeat what we so often hear about youth representation on committees – valid but not exciting -- Instead it was a call for youth evangelism. They wanted to connect other youth to Jesus. One youth delegate said “we have gone from being fishers of men to keepers of the aquarium.” He wasn’t pushing for a place at the tables where not much happens anyway. He wanted billboards and signs in malls. They also pushed support by bishops and dioceses for Episcopal Youth Event, Provincial Youth Event (next year in Salt Lake), Happening, and New Beginnings.

HOB then moved on to deal with about 500,000 resolutions. High points: We endorsed the principles of the Earth Charter (broader principles but less specific action than Genesis Covenant) to be supported by Biblical and theological arguments. We called for major changes in immigration enforcement to respect human rights and treat people (especially children) decently. We called for a suspension of military aid to the Philippines if necessary to stop the extra-judicial killings and disappearances. And we addressed multiple social justice issues. This may sound like feel good resolutions that have little effect. However, the Episcopal Church acts on these resolutions through advocacy by the Office on Governmental Relations, Episcopal Public Policy Network, and Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. The actual influence of these representatives depends on active advocacy support from the grass roots. The key to that support is – in a word – deacons. We need more deacons actively organizing the laity to speak out for justice to make the work done here amount to something.

We had an awe-inspiring Eucharist this morning complete with a large group of children paying Polynesian drums and cymbals; liturgical dancers; a gospel choir, and a cast of hundreds. Bishop Katharine preached and celebrated, with Bishops Griswold and Browning concelebrating. While I march around in rochet and chimere, Linda is in the choir contributing to the spirit of worship.

Last night, we had dinner with the General Seminary folks. I sat next to some wonderful retired clergy and spouses who told me about chaplaincy to retired clergy. That’s an important ministry I knew nothing about. I hope we can work on that in Nevada.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Time and Discernment: Abiding

I am up at 2:30 a.m. with ecclesiastical insomnia. I am reading Rabbi Jesus to help me remember what I am doing here. While taking a break from my book, I came across this reflection on discernment sent to me by the Rev. Mary Bredlau of Grace in the Desert. I found it helpful and wanted to pass it on. Of course, none of us in General Convention can afford to concern ourselves with only a few issues. We have to take it all to heart. But the idea about abiding in relationships applies here, and the idea about discernment of callings is generally essential to a servant life. So I wanted to share it:

On staying with what we are called to do, not just plunging into everything we are asked to do.
Practice Integrity [Practicing Spirituality with Quakers]
Fidelity costs energy and time, maybe a lifetime. Every firm yes we say requires many firm nos. After Quaker Meeting one Sunday I was talking with the man who visited prisoners in jail, when a young woman approached, breathless with excitement, to ask if he would join the board of a new peace group she was organizing. In a rush of words, she told him why the cause was crucial, why the time was ripe, why she absolutely needed his leadership. Knowing this man's sympathies, I figured he would agree to serve. But after listening to her plea, he gazed at her soberly for a moment, then said, "That is certainly a vital concern, worthy of all your passion. But it is not my concern." The challenge for all of us is to find those few causes which are peculiarly our own, those to which we are clearly called, and then to embrace them wholeheartedly.
If your goal is to find a center, a focus, a gathering place within your life, then you would do well to practice fidelity. By slowing down, abiding in relationships, staying in place, remaining faithful to a calling, we create the conditions for paying attention, for discovering depths, for finding a purpose and a pattern in our days. Fidelity enables us to orient ourselves, to know with some confidence where we are. It provides continuity, enabling us to see how things change, what is endangered, what persists. It keeps us from drifting, keeps us from hurrying through our days. "The reason why we don't take time is a feeling that we have to keep moving," says Thomas Merton. If we could only be still and look about, we'd realize that we already "have what we seek. We don't have to rush after it. It was there all the time, and if we give it time, it will make itself known to us." — Scott Russell Sanders in Hunting For Hope

Friday, July 10, 2009

Live From Anaheim III

It was a brain numbing soul draining day of parliamentary procedure in the House of Bishops. In the midst of it, good was done – but I am exhausted. Here are some highlights.

Retired Presiding Bishops Edmund Browning and Frank Griswold spoke briefly. I was particularly struck by something Bishop Griswold said: Bishops stay around for convention after convention, knowing that what is not done this time may yet be done next time. Deputies are elected for only one convention at a time. So bishops are inherently inclined to take a long view while deputies have more of a sense of urgency. He said the tension between those two perspectives is helpful and healthy. Sounds right to me.

We voted to reduce church committee meeting expenses by 50% and allocate the savings to mission such as Millennium Development Goals. And we adopted the Genesis Covenant to reduce our carbon footprint by 50% in the coming five years. Cutting down on travel is also a way to reduce carbon footprint. Much has been said about reducing the length and costs of national and diocesan conventions. We also passed the Domestic Poverty Initiative, a project to alleviate domestic poverty, particularly focused on Native communities.

We adopted Holy Women and Holy Men, a substitute for Lesser Feasts and Fasts, on a trial basis – but only after a lot of parliamentary rigmarole. Someone moved to replace the Rite I (Elizabethan English) collect with Spanish; someone moved to amend that motion to add French. Spanish speaking bishops rose up in defense of Elizabethan English. In the end, it passed as is for a 3 year trial with the understanding all our liturgical texts are actually printed in different books with different languages. I personally have a bit of a problem with parts of the book, like the addition of musicians (Bach, Handel, and Purcell) but no visual artists (like El Greco, Caravagio, and Fra Angelico). Also no poets like Tennyson, Eliot, and Auden (but they did add C. S. Lewis but not J. R. R. Tolkein). But I didn’t raise the issue, knowing it would eventually lead to movies and then it there would be no stopping it.

More good news: we approved full communion with the Moravian Church, then stood and sang the doxology in celebration. The HOB also requested $75,000 for camps like Camp Spirit for children of inmates. But the budget crunch may make that more of a nice wish than a reality.

Those were the high points. There were also low points. Lots of word smithing and nit picking. Some good proposals, like the one for licensing lay evangelists, sent back to committee. A number of bright gems gleamed in the dross of tedium.

At the end, we learned that there is a flap in the House of Deputies being stirred up by a deputy from Ecuador Central who is apparently misrepresenting how their new bishop was selected. It is a complicated and sad story going back to the removal of their bishop a few years ago for corruption. The current Bishop, Wilfrido Ramos, has achieved great healing. But wounds remain from the former bishop and they made the process of choosing a new bishop problematic. My last parish had a companion parish in Ecuador Central in the bad old days. So this is a familiar story to me. It would be sad to see Ecuador Central derailed by this. Pray for Ecuador Central.

Tonight Linda and I went to a Program, Budget, and Finance Committee meeting on the financial distress facing the Episcopal Church in coming years. We participated as best we could, being as patient as we could with dioceses that give 2% of their budget while Nevada gives its full 21% assessment. At last, I made a short speech telling the group that Nevada is one of the hardest hit states in the nation when it comes to this recession, but our diocesan income is up; and we are one of the poorest dioceses in the Episcopal Church, but we give our 21%. It’s a spiritual thing. I didn’t say “it’s a moral thing” – but it is. And I feel privileged to be in a diocese that does the right thing, not the easy thing. That’s the measure of character.

Book Recommendation

I awoke this morning chuckling over the wit of a book philosophically inclined Christians would love -- There Is A God by Anthony Flew. A great little book.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Live From Anaheim II

There are so many things going on here all the time. It's hard to keep up and harder still to tell a coherent story of it.

The work of the Stewardship and Develoment Committee goes on -- day after day. We have dealt with a wide variety of issues: the Genesis Covenant; Millennium Development Goals; accommodations for persons wih disabilities; humane treatment of farm animals; the funding of a major develoment project at 815; strategic planning; etc. After some struggle, the issues have been dealt with thoughtfully and come to postitive results.

The House of Bishops (HOB ) has passed most of our work. They adopted the Genesis Covenant following the lead of Olympia and Nevada. HOB requested the reinstatement of funding for Millennium Development Goals -- funding had been entirely cut due to the financial crisis -- and actually increased funding to 1% of the 815 budget. All the national money will go to Nets For Life (mosquito nets) which is fine with me but I hope our diocese and parishes can direct some money to micro credits. I am learning patience with the process.

Our two Eucharists have been holy and inspiring. Bishop Katharine preached yesterday; Archbishop Rowan Williams preached today; Bishop John Bruno (LA) celebrated in Spanish.

Bishop Katharine and Archbishop Williams have both been appealing for unity and restraint -- but they have done so in markedly restrained ways. I dont' think anyone could say this time that there is any undue pressure. But as primates whose role in the Church is to maintain unity, they could not do otherwise than try to hold us together. They remind us of our essential unity in Christ despite our differences and that we need each other.

Yesterday evening, Archbishop Williams gave a program on Faithfulness in the Global Economic Crisis. He treated our financial situation as an occasion for spiritual converstion with implications for social justice and environmental responsibility.

Linda and I attended a late night meeting of the Deputies of Color last night. They addressed issues of shared concern calling for mutual support. It was good to see such diversity and such recognition of commonality. It was an honor and a privilege to be their guest. Tonight we had dinner with the Nevada deputation (plus visitors, ECW, etc.) and the deputation from Navajoland honoring our historic and continuing ties.

This morning, the deputations met together to practice Public Narrative -- story telling leading to a sense of mission. This afternoon, the House of Deputies began their open discussion of B033 -- the 2006 moratorium resolution on same sex blessings, openly gay bishops, and jurisdictional incursions. The House of Bishops will have a parallel discussion soon. We are working on some way to share the fruit of those discussions between the two houses before voting on specific resolutions begins.

As we approach these hard issues, I am struck by how different the situation is from just a few months ago. The Primates have demonstrated a marked change in attitude since Lambeth. They still appeal for the moratoria for awhile longer but acknowledge that some people of good faith may be bound by conscience to violate them -- which does not solve our issues but it does make the moratoria considerably less oppressive than before. The Anlgican Consultative Council has not pushed for the adoption of the international Anglican Covenant at this time -- as we all had expected them to do -- though they still appeal for us to continue the moratoria and the process of discussing the Covenant. The new President of the Anglican Consultative Council is my friend Bishop Jame Tengatenga of Mulawi, a brilliant, compassionate, open minded man.

Many of the more hard line bishops in other nations are on the verge of retirement and the younger bishops are more open to constructive dialogue. We are now hearing from GLBT Anglicans in other nations who need us to remain in relationship with their churches. These voices were not part of our discussion prior to Lambeth. Attitudes are shifting in developing nations, as we saw in the recent reversal of anti-gay laws in India.

In Nevada, I sense that we take these issues seriously but it is not a crisis. Thanks to the conscience clause in the last primate's communique, clergy in Nevada are now free to make their own discernment on this issue. That is not the same as an offically authorized rite. Some beleive that the action of several states in legalizing gay marriage -- in Nevada, legalizing civil unions -- calls for a new liturgical response. Others believe our liturgy should be grounded in our theology instead of tracking secular law. The theology committtee will be issuing its report next year. I anticipate that will very likely lead to a liturgical response.

The shifts that have happened, the shifts that are happening, and the shifts that are about to happen all bear on our deliberations. But there is much discussion and deliberation yet to do. We have a number of resolutions before us, but they are apt to be amended considerably before coming to a vote.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Live From Anheim I

After an uneventful drive to Anaheim, it has been good to see people -- good to see Nevadans and good to see freinds from around the Church gathered here. Last night the Province 8 people gathered; then Linda and I went to a Native Ministries reception at a nearby Church, but were too late for the main action.

I spent most of today working with the Stewardship & Development Committee. I am not very patient with committee process. We spent a long time working on process this morning, then heard a lot of heartfelt testimony tonight -- particularly about Millennium Development Goals and offering support to persons with disabilities who are sent to conventions, etc. as church reprtesentatives. We readily passed a resolution to support a development office for the Church. However, the MDG resolution is on hold for redrafting and the Persons With Disabilities resolution has been defeated as presented but may come back in a redraft. As I say, I lack pateience with such things. These do not seem to me to be matters for nitpicking. But maybe they only look like nits to me.

In the afternoon, we heard inspiring opening addresses by Bishop Katharine and the President of the House of Deputies. We then got an introduction to the Public Narrative Process by the professor at the Kennedy School of Government (Harvard) who first developed it. We will be doing Public Narrative conversations during our time here. The idea is to link our stories to our mission.

I do have to say there is something surreal about a church convention so near Disney Land -- you can see the fireworks each night at 9:30 -- and beginning on the day of the Michael Jackson memorial. But who am I to say such a thing? I get my mail in Las Vegas.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Southerners In Camp; Deacon In Elko; Clarinet In Synagogue

Yesterday, I struck out from Camp Galilee much impressed with their progress. Aside from the spectacular growth in attendance, I was taken with where the kids and the counsellors came from. We had a good representation of children from Bullhead City, Boulder City, and Parhump, plus some representation from Ephiphany in Henderson. I am absolutely convinced "the space between us" is more in our hearts than in our land. The churches that are intentional about youth and children connecting across parish lines will make it happen. People travel from far away to spend time at Tahoe. They come from quite far and pay much more money. Time and money are not our issue. It's a spiritual thing.

I am deeply grateful to the good people of Boulder City, Bullhead City, and Pahrump for showing the rest of us what we can do if we have the will to do it.

This morning Ken Jewell was ordained at St. Paul's, Elko. Fantastic service. Deacons from Reno, Tahoe/Carson; and Fallon attended. I am thrilled to finally have a chance to ordain a vocational deacon. See Deacon Sermon 1 on the sermon blog.

I then drove back to Reno for a kind of emergent synagogue service at Temple Beth Or. Guitar, clarinet, and tambourine can make for a jazzy Shabbat in a scenic house setting overlooking the city. I also enjoyed being frequently lost and stumbling about in the Prayer Book. It helped me remeber what it's like to visit an Episcopal Church. A good reminder. It was also good to worship outside the usual zone. Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Also fround some great stuff on stewardship from Maimonides in the Prayer Book.