What I Learned at the 79th General Convention

For the third time, I was blessed to be a deputy from the Diocese of New Jersey to the democratic legislative body of the Episcopal Church known as General Convention (GC).Once every three years, this Church gathers from across the world to reflect to our branch of the Jesus Movement and discern if we are doing what God is calling us to do.We do this in good order through a legislative process that may seem confining, and yet allows for many ideas and voices to be heard.
This GC had a record number of resolutions – almost 500 were acted on by either Concurrence (both the House of Bishops and House of Deputies passed it with the same wording), Rejection (did not pass one house with a majority vote), Referring to an Interim Body (sent to a Committee or Commission established by the Executive Council), or Take No Further Action (usually means it was dealt with by another resolution).
Several of the Resolutions were of significant importance, especially A068, which deals with Prayer Boo…

The 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church

From July 5th to the 13th, the Episcopal Church will be meeting in Austin, Texas for our triennial meeting of the General Convention (GC). Since 1795, the members of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church (that’s the legal name – we usually call it The Episcopal Church, or TEC for short), have meet in General Convention about once every 3 years to consider and debate how we understand our mission to serve God faithfully.While our roots are from the Anglican (i.e. Church of England) tradition, TEC is elementally American in its democratic structure of governance and bi-cameral legislative process.We have the hierarchical system of ordination with bishops, priests and deacons, but also recognize the eminent order of the laity and as such have a polity that demands input from all members.
Very similar to our national government, TEC has two houses, the House of Bishops (HOB) and the House of Deputies (HOD). The HOB consists of all bishops – inclu…

Juneteenth and World Refugee Day

Yesterday and today are two lesser known or acknowledged days of remembrance of oppressed and displaced people.As with all such days of recognition, it is vital to learn from the past to do better in the future.As faithful Christians of good-will, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves, both by not repeating the sins of the past and seeking better ways of respecting human dignity now and in the future.

Yesterday marked the 153rd anniversary of “Juneteenth,” which commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas.  Although the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, many slaves did not know about it or lived in States that ignored the directive.  Similarly, although the Civil War official ended in May of 1865, it took over a month for the news to spread to the far reaches of the United States, like Texas, hence on June 19th, those persons who were enslaved learned they were legally free, two and a half years after the offic…

Schools for Disciples

When we think of “church,” most of us think of a building with a cross on it or in it somewhere, like a classic kindergartener’s depiction.Some might remember a priest or minister telling them that a church is not the building, but the people that make up the community.But the word “church” usually doesn’t remind us of what happens there, what takes place in that building or between the people.
The word “school” does evoke images of a building, as well as students and teachers, but it also carries the understanding that LEARNING happens in that place.It is the essential characteristic of what a “school” is about. Hence, it makes sense that our Bishop, The Rt. Rev. William “Chip” Stokes, is offering the intentional re-thinking of our churches as “schools for disciples.”
In truth, much of what we do at church is learning how to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ in order to engage the world beyond the building using those ideals and tools.Our worship is offering our praise and thank…

The Disciple Barnabas

We will celebrate our Patronal Feast this Sunday in honor of St. Barnabas, who our foremothers and fathers choose to name their community after.Often, such a decision is made due to the date in which a building is dedicated, as I believe was the case with the original St. Barnabas back on June 11, 1872. And yet I believe the Spirit moves through these events and allows the community to embody the essence of their patron and live into a new identity in their life in Christ.
We are not sure how Barnabas knew of Jesus, as he was originally from Cyrus, but he soon became an important part of the early church, zealously sharing his resources, both material and spiritual. Barnabas was given that name by the church leaders because it means “son of encouragement,” which is exactly what Barnabas did for Paul and many others.
Like Barnabas, we claim the identity of a disciple of Christ. We learn to share what we know about our teacher and savior, Jesus, with others, as well as continue to lear…

Sighs too deep for words

From the moment I heard that Bishop George Councell had suffered a stroke, my heart ached and my spirit hurt.It was difficult watching (admittedly from the sideline) this incredible man deal with the physically debilitating affects of Parkinson’s disease, but the cognitive diminishment was worse.For anyone who has had to witness a loved one loose themselves by inches with the loss of mental acuity and memory, I stand in awe of your courage, patience and fortitude.

I met George at General Theological Seminary in NYC during my first year.He was the newly elected, although not yet consecrated, Bishop of New Jersey.The Committee on the Priesthood had brought him up to meet those of us in seminary that he was “inheriting.”We each had about half an hour in a small room to talk with him. I offered my story, to which George patiently listened.I mentioned that my father, a great man himself but brought up by a stoic German to be stoic himself, had told me, when I told my parents that I believed…

Baptized in the Spirit

Reflections on the Acts of Apostles Chapters 18-23 and Pentecost
I have been using this weekly blog over the Seasons of Lent and Easter to coincide with the Forward Movement program encouraging the Church to read the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.While I have enjoyed this enterprise, it has, at times, made it more difficult to reflect on the lections for the week or current events and their intersection with our faith.It is fortuitous that this week there is a bit of an overlap with the Book of Acts and the Day of Pentecost, which we celebrate this Sunday.
Jesus told his disciples that while John baptized with water, he would baptize with fire (i.e. the Holy Spirit).The apostles did receive the Holy Spirit, some after his resurrection and all of Creation on the day of Pentecost. They were filled with passion and purpose to continue Jesus’s ministry and work in the world.Jesus even calls the Holy Spirit “the Advocate,” a helper to offer guidance and support in their ministries a…