By now, I’m sure many of you have seen some report of some things that happened at General Convention. General Convention is the tri-annual gathering of the Episcopal Church who act as our main governing body. The General Convention is made up of 2 houses of elected leaders, the House of Bishops, which includes all bishops, and the House of Deputies, which includes elected clergy and lay people from each diocese. At General Convention, many resolutions are brought to the floor to be discussed and either passed or rejected.
Many things happened at this General Convention which are important to the life of the church. The media has already gotten a hold of some of these things, which perhaps you have seen. Each media outlet has its own slant, and some have a lot of misinformation, so I recommend reading more balanced coverage from people who were actually at General Convention. The Episcopal News Service has a great wrap-up of General Convention that you can read by clicking here. It’s more factual than opinion-driven. I really encourage you to read all the things that happened at General Convention. It’s really quite amazing to see all the things the Spirit is doing in the church.
Perhaps the biggest story out of General Convention is the affirmation of a rite for same-sex blessing. This resolution certainly has given us the most media coverage and will certainly generate a number of questions amongst non-Episcopalians in our area.
Our congregation has a wide spectrum of thought on the matter, as shown in our series on Sexuality & the Church last spring. Some of you may be rejoicing about this resolution and the Episcopal Church being the first major denomination to take the lead on marriage equality. Some of you may be reconsidering your future with the Episcopal Church because you don’t agree with this resolution for a variety of reasons. Some of you may be fine with same-sex blessings, but are worried about having to explain this to people who don’t understand or share your feelings. Some may be worried that this will have a negative effect on St. Nicholas.
My prayer for all of us during such times is to be open and honest with one another. If these decisions cause you pain or confusion, I want you to come and talk to me. If they don’t and you are happy, I want you to come and talk to me.
This past week at Kanuga, I was responsible for doing a Bible Study on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I had a great small group of 10-15 people each day, from places ranging from Los Angeles, California to Tampa, Florida. Most all of them were Episcopalian and they represented a diverse group. One gentleman from Chicago, who I’ll call “Gary,” engaged me in some really wonderful theological discussion. Gary stuck around after Bible Study to discuss the matters of General Convention with me. He and I agreed on very little. After the first day discussing such subjects as women’s ordination, biblical authority, and sexuality, I thought he might not return. But he came back and in fact spoke to me in the meal line a number of times. We laughed and shook hands, even though we disagreed vehemently. He came back to Bible Study every day, and continued our conversation afterwards. He was thoughtful, passionate, and full of the Holy Spirit. He and I both left challenged in our positions but had a healthy respect for one another upon leaving. Over all, Gary and I agreed that the Episcopal Church was large enough for both of us.
I’m not interested in a “liberal church” or a “conservative church.” Instead, I’m interested in a whole church who welcomes all people, no matter what their opinions may be. So no matter where you are on this or any issue, I want to extend an invitation to you to come and talk to me.
Today was another packed service at St. Nicholas. Despite the fact that our organist was ill and couldn’t be there, I heard our church sing loudly and proudly. We started with a song called “One Body” which was intended to be a reminder of who we are at our core. We all have a place at St. Nicholas, we all belong to one Body of Christ.