Scott Peck wrote four decades ago that a sign of emotional health is an ability to delay gratification. We are getting to practice that truth at Salt Lake City.
As I mentioned in my blog posting last night, General Convention is like a steam locomotive – the internal parts are working hard, functioning as they should, but the locomotive takes a while to get up to speed. Committees are still working. The legislative calendar is beginning to gain weight. But, as was the case with the disciples on the sea in the midst of the storm, “we are making headway painfully.”
But we get to the big item tomorrow. Late tomorrow morning (early afternoon in Mississippi), the House of Bishops will cloister themselves away and begin taking ballots for the election of the new Presiding Bishop. The four nominees’ names were officially placed in nomination at a joint session of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies today. The four official nominees are Bishops Tom Breidenthal of Southern Ohio; Michael Curry of North Carolina; Ian Douglas of Connecticut; and Dabney Smith of Southwest Florida. There were no additional nominees after the official list was released on May 1.
The Bishops will cast ballots until a nominee receives a majority of ballots of all Bishops voting. Bishops eligible to vote include Diocesan, Coadjutors, Suffragans, Assisting, and resigned/retired Bishops – i.e., all Bishops present for the election.
Once a nominee receives a majority of the Bishops’ votes, the results are reported to the House of Deputies. There, the House of Deputies will consider the results of the election and will likely confirm the results. If, however, the results are not confirmed, then the House of Bishops will continue to cast ballots. That is very unlikely.
The new Presiding Bishop will be serving a nine-year term (You may recall that Bishop John Allin from Mississippi, the 23rd Presiding Bishop, served a 12-year term. The length of the term has been reduced to nine years). The installation of the new Presiding Bishop will take place in early November.
After the new Presiding Bishop is elected, General Convention will turn toward its other, more routine duties. Legislative committees will continue to issue reports to the floor. The legislative stride will be hit beginning on Monday, as both the House of Bishops and House of Deputies begin grappling with a backlog of resolutions.
Among the topics that will be dealt with next week are resolutions from the report of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage, (If you have not already done so, I would suggest that read the statement issued by Bishop Seage today after the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage at www.dioms.org and the report of the marriage task force, found at https://extranet.generalconvention.org/staff/files/download/12485.pdf). There will also be resolutions and legislation from the Task Force on Reimagining the Episcopal Church (The task force’s report may be found here: https://extranet.generalconvention.org/staff/files/download/12478.pdf).
The secular press may be reporting from today’s action that the House of Deputies killed a resolution creating a Special Task Force on Evangelism. That action may seem baffling to some folks, given the decline in church membership. However, it should be noted that the Committee on Governance and Structure (of which I am a member) is reviewing the need for all Continuing Commissions, Agencies, and Boards. The church bureaucracy has grown exponentially over the years, and the committee is reviewing the authorization and need for all bodies.
You are encouraged to look for “context” to convention decisions, separate of the secular press. Some of the blogs which you have available to you are excellent sources for such context.
At any rate, the pace will pick up on Saturday, will slow down on Sunday (the Lord’s Day), and will sprint toward the finish on Friday.
Please keep the General Convention and the Mississippi Deputation in your prayers.