Saturday, July 7, 2012

I am writing earlier today than usual because I have a break for a short while so that I may report on today's activities.  We have just gotten out of a legislative session (which ended at 6:30 p.m.).  I will be going into a Structure Committee meeting at 7:30, and it is scheduled to end at 9:30 tonight.  Perhaps I will be a bit more clear-headed by writing earlier.

The big news in the Mississippi deputation is the election, on the first ballot, of Canon Kathryn McCormick as a Trustee of the Church Pension Fund.  She was one of 26 nominees in the election for one of the most important positions in the church.  She was elected along with 11 other trustees to oversee the functioning of the comprehensive agency which provides pension services, disability coverage, life and health insurance, property and casualty coverage, publishing resources, and many other services to the Episcopal Church.  Her election is a testimony to the broad respect for her in the church and is a compliment to the Diocese of Mississippi.

We hope that our other Mississippi deputy nominated for church-wide office -- Dr. Anita P. George of Resurrection, Starkville -- will be elected to her office, which is the the Episcopal Church's Executive Council, the vestry of the "national" church. That election comes in a few days.

I am primarily able to report on what has been happening in my committee and how that is being received in the House of Deputies.  I had shared earlier our recommendation that the Episcopal Church Center at 815 Second Avenue in New York had been approved by the House of Deputies.  That was the initial sign that convention is potentially receptive to a significant reorganization of the Episcopal Church.

A second sign was evident today.  Again, based on a recommendation from the Structure Committee, the House of Deputies today approved a canonical change that would eliminate the requirement that the next Presiding Bishop (to be elected in 2015) has to resign her or his jurisdiction.  That change, if approved by the House of Bishops, would mean that the next Presiding Bishop would continue to serve as diocesan bishop whereever he or she is currently posted.  This, of course, would require a radical redefinition of the role and duties of the Presiding Bishop.  The interesting thing is, of course, that this was the manner in which the Presiding Bishop functioned until 1947. "Back to the future," I guess.

Our committee meets in half an hour to look at the first draft of "omnibus" church reorganization legislation.  A drafting group has been working to bring something to the committee's consideration.  I am looking forward to hearing what they have to say.  This could mean good things for the future of the church, in terms of administration and governance.  I will report tomorrow on what those proposals offer.

Although I will be unable to attend, the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music is holding a hearing tonight on the issue of blessing of same sex unions.  I suspect that committee, chaired by former Mississippian Lowell Grisham, rector of St. Paul's Church, Fayetteville, Arkansas, will propose some form of blessings for implementation and use in those dioceses in which they are either legally allowed or permitted by the bishop of that diocese.

The hearing on same gender unions will likely be the largest hearing of this convention.  However, I would say that the subject has not been much on the forefront at this convention.  More attention has been focused on structure and the wider church's budget.

We also expect committee action on the Anglican Covenant.  Many observers expect the recommendation from that committee to be acceptance of the Preamble and first three sections while demurring on the fourth section (which deals with discipline).  Some of the air was released from this balloon by the English church's refusal to embrace the proposed covenant.

I will look forward to reporting tomorrow.  Please keep us in your prayers.

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