Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Real Day One of General Convention

You might think that being here for two days prior to this one would make this Day Three but you would be wrong.  Lots of legislation was proposed before we ever got to General Convention, mostly by Committees, Commissions, Agencies and Boards in the Blue Book.  But the Houses of Convention cannot consider legislation until it has been vetted by legislative committees.  The good news about that process is that committees that have an equivalent in each House meet together as one so that each resolution assigned doesn't have to go through two legislative committees.

The committee I serve as a liaison from Dispatch of Business is a good example.  Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music meets as one great big committee with two chairs, one from each House (in other words a Deputy and a Bishop).  Most of these first meetings have involved a hearing on a set of resolutions.  For instance, anyone wanting to speak about resolutions dealing with Holy Women Holy Men and related calendar commemorations came to the meeting this morning to speak their piece about the resolution that most interests them.  Once the hearings have been held, the committee begins to debate each resolution - all very Roberts Rules of Order with a few rules that are unique to Convention.  When the committee have said all they need to, each committee votes  - and here they "separate" into two committees - on whether to recommend adoption or rejection (there are other options but it gets confusing even for us).  All resolutions have to be reported out of committee. 

Prayer Book resolutions begin their trip through the voting process in the House of Bishops.  So Bishop Smith, chair from that House, signs each resolution's message report.  It gets filed in the Secretariat Office and placed on the Calendar by the Bishops' Dispatch Committee.  Once the Bishops vote on the matter, a report comes to the Deputies.  If the Bishops haven't made any changes in the resolution and have passed it, the Deputies' Dispatch of Business puts it on our Calendar for debate and action.

That is probably more than any of you want to know but the truth is that this is a critical part of what we do here.  Is it the best way to handle all the business of the Church?  I suspect most of us would say that it is not.  It is very hard to turn pastoral or missional issues into legislation.  As much as I fussed about the resolution to "engage in conflict resolution on the Korean Peninsula,"  there is someone in the Church who is passionate about that and may well be working in that area.  If we turn down the legislation, we may be saying that we don't care about their ministry or their relatives who remain in Korea.  If there were some way we could, perhaps, issue a pastoral letter speaking to the need for peace and resolution of the conflict in Korea, we might find ourselves speaking pastorally to an issue of justice.  Is this what Jesus would do?  Well, it's probably closer than passing a resolution.

I won't keep you any longer tonight except to say that we have been doing all this committee work for two days so that, when the Houses did finally begin meeting officially this morning, they would have more to do that say hello to their neighbors and twiddle their thumbs.

Also a hats off to my friends who willingly offered me computers with which to communicate on this blog.  Two days of blogging on my phone's email was about to send me around the bend!

1 comment:

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