Friday, July 17, 2009
We finished our business ahead of schedule this afternoon. The House of Deputies is still at work, but should finish by 6 PM tonight, making this the first General Convention in a long time at which all legislation was acted upon before the closing bell.
In the next few days, I will be writing a reflection letter to the Diocese that will go out on the web and on the E-pistle mailing list. I understand that our deputation will also be preparing a letter which will be posted in the next few weeks.
All in all, it was a good convention. We took some necessary steps forward towards full inclusivity, but did so in a way that was respectful to the our conservative members and to the wider Anglican Communion. Those issues aside, we also made some important changes in structure which will effect us on a more local level, such as changing our health insurance plans, adopting new disciplinary canons, affirming youth, campus ministry, evangelism, and Native American programs.
Going back to some of my earlier cautions of the last few blogs, I want to include here a few paragraphs from the letter that the Presiding Bishop sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury today. As always, the press has been creating misleading headlines about what we did here, and she wanted to set the record straight. According to Episcopal News Services:
"The letter to Archbishop Williams outlined Resolution D025, which was adopted at this General Convention, explaining that Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and President Anderson understood Resolution D025 to be more descriptive than prescriptive in nature. It stated that some are concerned that the adoption of Resolution D025 has effectively repealed Resolution B033 but reiterated that is not the case. The letter continued, “This General Convention has not repealed Resolution B033. It remains to be seen how Resolution B033 will be understood and interpreted in light of Resolution D025.”
"The letter also states that the Episcopal Church “is deeply and genuinely committed to our relationships in the Anglican Communion.” It also says, “In adopting this Resolution, it is not our desire to give offense. We remain keenly aware of the concerns and sensibilities of our brothers and sisters in other Churches across the Communion. We believe also that the honesty reflected in this resolution is essential if indeed we are to live into the deep communion that we all profess and earnestly desire.”
"The letter expresses the profound appreciation of the Presiding Officers that Archbishop Williams, 16 Anglican Primates, and lay and clergy leaders of the Anglican Communion attended the General Convention and stressed the importance of finding ways to communicate directly about different cultural and ecclesial contexts."
The future looks hopeful, for our Church nationally, and more importantly, for the mission opportunities that await us, in spite of (or maybe because of) the financial constraints we are under.
I was proud to represent you as your bishop and to be part of this historical meeting.
The last picture I am posting is just for fun. The fact that we were able to have a good time together is a sign of health, as our chaplain reminded us. Since the creation of the Episcopal Church in 1789, there have been ten bishops named Smith.
Five of them now serve. One will be retiring soon, so this is the last time there will be so many for the foreseeable future. Here we all are. From left to right--
Andrew Smith, Connecticut; Kirk Smith, Arizona, Michael Smith, South Dakota; Dabney
Smith, Southeast Florida; Wayne Smith, Missouri.
Laura and I are headed for the Northwest for a few weeks of vacation. I will be back in the office around the middle of August. During that time both Epistles and this blog will be "on hiatus". I hope that you all have a restful and cool summer!