Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's all about Ubuntu!

Yesterday I got on a plane and flew to Anaheim, CA in preparation for the upcoming 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. General Convention meets every three years and is the legislative body that votes on the Canons and laws that govern the church. General Convention is similar to the United States government in structure -- two houses -- where votes are cast for legislation. There is the House of Deputies (with both clergy and lay deputies) and the House of Bishops. Legislation must be passed by both houses in order to become law. Our governing body is widely considered to be the largest in the world with over 1000 deputies.

So anyways, yesterday was mostly a day of fellowship, reconnecting with friends, and preparing for the days ahead. It was also the first day of Registration for deputies and bishops. So after getting my badge, document binder, and other materials, I spent most of the day reading and getting my schedule entered into my iPhone.

Today was the Opening Day for Convention. Legislative Committees are already meeting. I attended the Prayer Book, Liturgies, and Music committee meeting in the morning. One of the main decisions made today was the date for the Hearings on resolutions pertaining to Same Sex Blessings. It appears that these will take place on Thursday at 2pm. It is anticipated to take the entire two-hour period allocated.

Also interesting is that the Hearings on the resolutions pertaining to Resolution B033: Exercise Restraint in Consecrating Candidates (from the last General Convention in 2006) are scheduled on the same day -- Thursday evening at 8pm. It is going to be a very busy day on Thursday indeed!

This afternoon, Convention opened with addresses by the Presiding Bishop Schori and the President of the House of Deputies, Bonnie Anderson. We were introduced to the theme of Convention: Ubuntu.

ArchBishop Desmond Tutu, when speaking of Ubuntu, said "One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu - the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality - Ubuntu - you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity."

Then we received an introduction to Public Narratives -- a participatory, vision-focused dialogue on the Mission of the Church which was directed by the last General Convention in Resolution D043. These Mission Conversations are designed to help articulate our commitment to mission by sharing a person's individual faith journey, the values of our community, and how we choose to 'act' in response. During this Convention, all deputies will learn this method of 'sharing our story' as well as how to help others articulate their own stories.

Tonight, there will be more Legislative Committee meetings. I haven't yet decided which one I will attend. Lastly, there is a meeting for Deputies of Color which I will attend -- where we discuss legislation that may have important impacts upon minority ministries, issues of social justice, and progress towards anti-racism within the Church. It will also be nice to meet up with old friends.

Tomorrow will be our first FULL day of committees, legislative sessions, etc. More then!

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