The Rev. Anne E. Ryder
Top on the lists of things accomplished are progress in the divestment of investments in fossil fuels and the approval of two marriage liturgies that can be used for any couple choosing to marry in the Episcopal Church. Both of these pieces of legislation were passed by the House of Bishops and will soon appear on the schedule for the House of Deputies. Both houses must approve the same version of the legislation (no amendments) for it to pass. So resolutions pass back and forth between both houses.
Yesterday the House of Deputies approved legislation for evangelism by social media, money for new church starts, grants for innovative ministry projects, guidelines for advocating for jobs and services for ex-prisoners as well as stronger licensing laws for handguns.
As deputies rise to support or oppose an amendment or resolution, we often hear poignant stories of the church in the midst of violence and of grace. Each of us has our own story to tell about ministry in our community.
We are working hard. Most of us attend committee meetings that begin at 7:30 am. Next is worship--so uplifting--that connects us all to our Lord Jesus and to one another: "We are one body, for we all share in the One bread." The morning legislative session meets until about 1, then a lunch break. As the convention progresses, the afternoon legislative sessions take longer...today it is from 2:15-7:30. Often more committee meetings are scheduled at night along with gatherings of various constituents. Tonight our delegation will have dinner together, including representatives from the UTO gathering and the Episcopal Service Corps.
As an alternate, I am at the ready to go on the floor if one of our clergy delegates needs/wants a break for any reason. Today I will be on the floor for the morning's legislative session, using the voting device to make my voice heard.
I wish there were a way to communicate the atmosphere of GC. As a first-timer, it takes a while to hit one's rhythm, not to mention finding one's way around the convention center. The formality of the legislative sessions seems excessive at first, but as time passes I see its usefulness. The beauty of worshiping with three thousand people is almost indescribable, suffice it to say that if Jesus is with us when we are two or three, then Jesus is everywhere when we are that many.
Along with the business of our church in our time, that demands that we be courageous, innovative, outward focused, and able to share our faith with others, there is the serendipity of seeing old friends. I have met up with a classmate from my semester abroad in Cambridge, England, the chair of our Commission on Ministry with whom I served in Colorado, and friends from seminary whom I haven't seen in 19 years. We are all older and wiser (I hope) and still deeply in love with this church. Our work here is just the preliminary to returning home to proclaim and live the Good News of Jesus.