Deputies and Bishops from around the 15 nations of the Episcopal Church have gathered here in Salt Lake City to do something. But what?
The first part of Gen Con is my favorite: the gathering. It is so good to see people I have known over the years and from across the continent. Such wonderful people are here. I love seeing them and they seem to like seeing me and being seen by them is good. Perhaps because I don’t make hard decisions or say hard truths in their worlds, they are particularly affirming. So seeing these folks is decidedly good.
The gathering part of Gen Con is a pure joy. There is however another piece I am not quite sure of. The very fact that we have been elected and sent here by the folks back home has a sort of ego credential to it. Since we have gathered in this way, it suggests we must be here to do something important. And perhaps that makes us important. That is the thistle in this wheat field, the twinge of self-importance or the urge to make ourselves important. In that egocentric spasm, we are apt to do silly and grandiose things that no one outside these halls will see as the least bit important.
As I look around me and absorb what it is like to be here, I think of the faithful devoted folks in parishes, where the real life of the Church is lived – there and in the streets, the homes, and the workplaces of the communities where God has planted those parishes – and I am acutely aware that we are here to support them. I think of faithful devoted folks, some including big name folks like cardinal rectors, who never attend a Gen Con. It was certainly one of my life’s aspirations to never attend a Gen Con. J The local church is where the action is.
So what we do here must be for the Body of Christ where that Body’s feet touch the earth, in the local congregations. I do not know that what we do here will please everyone. But I do hope we will be faithful to them and do our best to challenge and support them to truly reveal Christ Jesus to a world that needs Christ Jesus today as much or more than ever before.
The day began with inspirational speeches from the heads of the House of Bishops, House of Deputies, and ECW. I left inspired. Then we had orientation to the legislative process, social media policies, rules of order, and the technology of our virtual binders, which contain all relevant truth. I left uninspired.
We spent the afternoon hearing our Presiding Bishop nominees answer questions. I think everyone enjoyed the first hour of it. But it was much longer. We were pretty tired of the process before it was over. But it was probably informative. At the get together at our room tonight, the Nevada deputies expressed a strong near unanimous preference for one of the candidates. I will certainly take serious note of that when deciding how to vote.
In the late afternoon and early evening we attended receptions for Indigenous Ministries and the Development Office. It was good to see friends and colleagues in both places.
Along the way I have all but struck the deal for our deacons conference presenter next year. I don’t want to say who or what until it’s a done deal. But I am really excited.
Tonight was an arduous meeting of the legislative committee on stewardship and development. We are dealing with two things. One is the level of the national apportionment. I think we are making good headway on that. The other, I think it best not to identify because I think what we are doing, though very well intentioned and undertaken with good hearts, is theologically and spiritually wrong and legally somewhat perilous. But I am nearly a lone voice of opposition so there is not much to be done about it.
Tomorrow our worship begins and the legislative process gets underway in earnest.