I’m on the committee for Liturgy and Music here at GC, which gets the first look at the resolution to approve and use the Same-Gender Blessings created over the last three years by the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM). Tonight was our public hearing, which all of us on the committee were anxiously awaiting. This was our big night.
When trying to work out the guidelines for how to run the hearing (order of speakers, time limit, etc), there was a lot of speculation about what would happen. Would we have too many people? Or barely any? The Church has been talking about this for awhile now. A LONG while. Years. Some wondered if all the talking people wanted to do had already happened, especially at the last GC in 2009 when we first approved the development of these rites. In addition, I think we were all a bit wary of sitting in a room for two hours watching people yell at each other about something most people take quite personally.
So it is with great happiness that I tell you the hearing went well, the speakers were all civil, and we even ended early. Some speakers said that we’ve been talking about this for too long. Others said we’re going too fast. Neither argument is new, which is part of why to me they are both right.
Yes, this is slow. This is painstakingly and annoyingly slow. We only have convention every three years, so anything that can’t be made in eight days (such as an entire liturgy) has to be given to committee and come back three years later. Changes to big things like the constitution or canons are even worse, because they require passage at more than one convention. We have hearings and more hearings. We talk about it in the House of Bishops and in the House of Deputies. We have special consultations and our own weird network of insider blogs that I’m only just discovering myself. And for those who are waiting, it is an eternity. Imagine getting engaged, and then planning the wedding for 15 to 30 years.
But it’s slow for a reason, and in the end I think it’s a good one. The easier it is to change something, the easier it is to change back. Just think of fad diets. Sure it’s simple to drink nothing but juice for a week, but you’ll be back to french fries in even less time. It’s a lot harder to change your whole pattern of diet and exercise, but in the end the change is more likely to be permanent. This is why it takes two General Conventions to change a canon. This is why we’ve been talking about Blessings for years. We need to be sure that if we do this, it will stick.
How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?
That depends, how many people are on the Change Committee?