Not surprisingly, this unwieldy assemblage had its origins in the founding era of the United States. The President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson, expounded on the peculiar history and culture of our governing body on July 4.
Preach it, Madame President. Anderson could definitely give Nancy Pelosi a run for her money as a leader of women and men. Churches, like countries experiencing demographic and technological transitions, can only go forward, not backward.
Saturday I indulged myself by following the Twitter feed (#gc77) from the meeting. A complex event like this, with multiple caucuses, committees and hearings taking place concurrently is well suited to Twitter. One of my favorites from today is this commentary on the setting:
After some particularly rancorous parliamentary wrangling,
PoHD is the aforementioned Ms. Anderson. I've seen her run a tight ship.
But of course this is not all laughs. My friends from Transepiscopal are successfully shepherding resolutions through the process that will assure full access for all to consideration for ordination and for lay jobs in the Church without discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression. They seem to have swatted away any impulse to "study" them further -- putting folks under a microscope has historically been a "polite" dodge to avoid taking a stand for inclusion. This seems not to be in play this year.
What is in play is whether to approve some sort of optional experimentation with rites to bless same-sex couples, especially in jurisdictions that have achieved marriage equality. I'd bet they get to yes.
And then maybe all these good people can struggle through the numerous other challenges this governing body faces. These are tough -- whether to sell the Manhattan-based headquarters, how to structure the budget, how to interact with Anglicans around the world who sometimes resent us as both a little crazy and also ugly Americans.
Watching all this from afar (I worked at Convention three years ago), I take two thoughts away.
First from the opening address by Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefforts Schori:
The PB reminds me of President Obama: the very fact of her improbable elevation to this top job only 14 years after a woman was first made a bishop meant she carried wildly hopeful expectations among people wishing for rapid changes in the denomination. For them (us), she's been a mixed bag. But I have to like a Church leader copping to the truth that politics is holy work. I think she's right.
I'll give the last word here to my friend the Rev. Cameron Partridge, one of the trans activists whose agenda is moving through Convention. In the midst of this vital struggle, he was able to recall something else important.