Dogs at the Table

...or to put it another way, "Perish, priest!"

Friday, June 04, 2010

The First Full Day

The day started with the usual morning devotions and a bit of singing. People were welcomed and credentialed, guests were recognized, and then the community building began. A professional firm had been contracted to transition us into the corporate identity from our individual or diocesan "selves." You could sense the hesitation when people were asked to invent secret handshakes or share stories of favourite meals with repeatedly different partners, but it didn't take long before we all had learned the drill and were making new friends and acquaintances every two minutes.

From 11:00 'til noon, the Primate gave his "presidential address" (cf. state of the union address, speech from the throne, charge to synod). Some parts were predictable -- mission statements, vision imperatives (or vision quests), governance issues. But the best part was when ++Fred offered a sternly worded caution about the Covenant, illustrating the hypocrisy and double standard that is already in place, and clearly indicating his dissatisfaction with the tone and direction of the covenant.

Unfortunately this was offset by a rather lukewarm response to the human sexuality question, where he clearly indicated that we will remain in the kind of ecclesial limbo that masquerades as diocesan autonomy. Yes, we're all tired of talking about it, but until the church defines how it sanctifies and blesses those who are called to many different configurations of family life, we will continue to live in a dysfunctional "don't ask, don't tell" world.

The afternoon was spent, first with a sales pitch on Vision 2019 (a national awareness program based on the 5 Marks of Mission ( Great video production at the beginning; some sentimental testimonials; some general encouragement to engage with the neighbourhood and the world around us. Unfortunately, it will take more than "greening our churches" and a bit of creative programming to transform us into a mission minded church.

The remainder of the afternoon and evening dealt with governance issues, specifically related to the size of General Synod and the size of the Council of General Synod (aka. Executive Council in TEC parlance). The debate was punctuated by procedural wrangling, statements of suspicion and distrust, and (with respect to those charged with a difficult task) insufficient information about the consequences of passing the motions to make it impossible to carry the resolution about the size of General Synod as it was presented. The Primate, after counted votes by orders, declared the motion "lost," which just seems a bit careless on the part of the presenters. Interestingly after supper, they came back with a plan to re-present the motion with additional information on Monday. Stay tuned!

The funniest part of the day came with the hymn that began the evening session -- Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah. The old chestnut was introduced by the piano player who clearly had a much faster tempo in mind than the 300 people singing. But the piano player persevered, and the dirge desired by the assembled multitude, in then end, was a joyful hymn of affirmation. But the first verse was a curious quodlibet of tempi!

Today's weigh-in: ? This body still hasn't found the gym on campus.


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