I prefer relating to people over legislating rules and regulations, so the best parts of my day were in the halls – not in official convention doings. I met a priest from Houston who introduced me to All Our Children: A National Network of Church-School Partnerships. http://www.allourchildren.org This is the kind of ministry quite a few of our congregations are already doing, most notably St. Catherine of Sienna, Reno. We tried to get this going a few years back working with Communities in Schools. St. Matthew’s and St. Paul’s (Elko) had some success with that route. But Communities In Schools only operated in a few parts of the state, rarely where we have churches. The All Our Children program looks much more promising. And now we have greater openness at the top levels of public school administration to let us in as mentors, tutors, etc. So today was a gracious serendipity. I am so glad to have learned about this ministry opportunity that I know will be close to the hearts of many Nevadans.
Then I finally met face to face the extremely impressive Evangelism Officer for the Diocese of Dallas, the Rev. Carrie Boren Headington. https://www.facebook.com/carrie.boren.3?fref=ts I have been in touch with her on social media for a few months but this was our first chance to really talk. Carrie is not just bright and personable. She is a committed voice for the gospel and loves helping churches embrace The Great Commission, especially small churches. She has been helping the Diocese of North Dakota recently. And she wants to help us. :-) !!!
As the day went on, I encountered Jim Naughton and Rebecca Wilson, our friends from Canticle Communications, who led last year’s Priests’ Conference, then Christopher Wells of Forward Movement. Not to mention all my clergy friends around the country, lay friends from Georgia, etc.
The official work was mostly in my legislative committee. We had a batch of resolutions and canons but we rolled them into just three. One was a Donor’s Bill of Rights, on which I was the lone dissenting voice. I have a list of objections, but my main problem is that I believe the wider church should educate the local congregations, not issue mandates to them. I did my seagull squawking yesterday, and will take another run at it when it gets to floor of the House. For a political moderate, I am pretty libertarian or at least federalist when it comes to Church governance.
More importantly we took up the proposal to reduce the apportionment each diocese pays to the wider church from 19% to 15% but make it mandatory for all dioceses. At present about 54% of dioceses do not pay the full amount. We need everyone to ante up so we can lower the percentage. A 15% diocesan apportionment would enable Nevada to lower its exorbitant assessment on parishes. As you might imagine, the part about making it mandatory was the hard part. We worked to do this in a gentle way that winds up trusting in the good will and integrity of dioceses in honest conversation with the wider church as opposed to power tactics. It’s an exercise in faith not only in God but also in each other. It looks likely that we will phase in the reduction in the apportionment over the next six years, so nothing dramatic will happen right away. That’s good news for some dioceses, not so good for us. But we can be patient if there is hope.
I am not hearing any murmurings about the same gender marriage proposal in the hallways of Gen Con yet. There may be more consensus on this than we have had on LGBTQ inclusion in years past.
The murmurings I am hearing have more to do with the restructuring of Church governance. And, as expected, it is lining up to be contentious -- not the Church at its best. We really don’t get too bad around money. It’s power – and usually power over small things – that brings out the worst in us. We will have a joint session on restructuring tomorrow. It will probably be pretty bland but things are apt to get difficult before this is over. I experience it as an ominous cloud on the horizon.
The other high profile event at this Gen Con will be the election of the next Presiding Bishop. If restructuring does not eviscerate that position (as some hope to do), this decision will be important as well as high profile. As I said in yesterday’s blog, the Nevada deputies who came over to our room last night were unanimous as to which candidate they want for PB. An e-mail poll of the rest of our deputies continues the unanimous preference. I do not feel bound by their straw vote, but it would take a real fool to not recognize that enthusiastic unanimity is a pretty powerful recommendation.
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