Wednesday, July 30, 2003

And So It Begins

Well today is the first official day of GC. It has been a fairly amazing day in many ways. I'm trying to keep notes to remember all the little details for you but I don't know how well I do by the time I get to the keyboard in the evenings.
It is astounding to be surrounded by literally thousands of Episcopalians. Of all colors and pieties and theology. It was a profound moving experience to worship together this morning and hear the massed voices singing and praying together. Equally wonderful was listening to a very young lady, perhaps 8, doing the epistle reading before all these people. She was wonderful! Receiving the cup at Communion from one of the youth delegates was also wonderful.
The Presiding Bishop(PB) opened with a wonderful address yesterday calling us to be open to all points of view so that we can hear what God wants us to hear in this time and place. He reminded us that Christ came to redeem the world, not the church. A focus on who is in or out of communion with whom is not based on the Gospel. Our denomination was born in a time of conflict between "tradition" and "reform". We are the people who are called to the "both/and". We have not "become" the church, but rather we are constantly "becoming" the church.
The president of the House of Deputies also addressed us (The Very Rev. Geo. Werner). What struck me in this equally powerful address was a reminder that there is no "neutral" interpretation of the Bible. It is a powerfully disrespectful position to say that someone holding a different interpretation doesn't take Scripture seriously. He said that the church is much like Noah's Ark. The only way to bear the stench within is the remember the storm without. The two addresses created a wonderful starting point for the difficult decisions that are still ahead.
I've seen all the various "celebrities" for this GC. Canon Gene Robinson sits at the next table to mine at worship. I've passed the PB on the street several times and had many other bishops pointed out to me. Their strengths and weaknesses are well known (and often widely discussed) by all here. We come as imperfect human beings to struggle and try to find the right path.
So far we've only seen one "demonstration" by an outside group. Their message was so obviously hateful and lacking in the blessing of the Spirit that they are easily and quickly ignored. Some of the more conservative elements have also made themselves apparent. Being handed an outside publication (not published by the GC itself) that declares itself the voice of "Mainstream" Episcopalians strikes me as both arrogant and presumptuous.
The big events today were addresses by two of the GCOYP, one to the house of Bishops and the other to the house of Deputies. The two young men gave wonderful speeches and received standing ovations in each house. They challenged both houses to move forward to truly bringing young people into full membership in the church.
Beyond that Minneapolis is a beautiful city filled with wonderful people. The weather has been beautiful so we've been doing as much walking as possible. A good idea since I'm eating about twice as much as is good for me. Ah the weight I lost is coming back with a vengence!
The business will really get cranked up starting tomorrow. More updates as we go along.

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