Begin Again

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So it starts again. Another triennium, another convention, another set of hot-button issues to discuss. If time and internet access allow I’ll do expanded posts on each of these issues before convention starts, but in case it doesn’t happen, here’s the bumper-sticker version:

1) Election of a New Presiding BishopPB_Invest_Cath_112

This marks the end of Katharine Jefferts-Schori’s term as Presiding Bishop, and it’s time to elect someone new. The nominations committee has suggested four names (videos of the four candidates can be found here). The fact that there are no women on the list has not gotten past anyone, though the sad fact remains that there are very few women they have to choose from in the pool of qualifying bishops. The fact that three out of four are white has also escaped no one. Once again, small pool.

2) TREC Report and Restructuring

In the wake of the unanimous 2012 decision to create the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church (TREC), the 2015 Convention will have to deal with the report delivered by the task force. There is no doubt that “dealing with it” will involve completely changing the proposed resolutions in big and small ways. Some of the report’s suggested changes go so far as to suggest switching to a unicameral system and changing the Presiding Bishop’s job description. Responses to the TREC report have been mixed. People have expressed both excitement and concern over specific proposed resolutions, as well as over the general feeling and tone of the work. The bottom line: Did we get what we asked for? More importantly, is what we asked for what we really needed?

3) Marriage Canons

Same-gender marriage in the Episcopal Church seems more inevitable with every convention, but that doesn’t mean the road is easy or the journey fast. There is likely to be more harsh words and hurt feelings as we discuss changing the marriage canons, which currently describe marriage as between a man and a woman. The special marriage committee has returned from their work with suggestions on how to change the canons, but no there are explicit theological statements or suggestions of universal acceptance.

What else should we expect at General Convention? There are a few contenders. I’ve heard talk of changing diocesan assessment (the amount of money each diocese is expected to pay into the larger church). There’s bound to be a few things about climate change and the middle east. A special committee was created to discuss issues around drug and alcohol abuse. Or maybe, just maybe, we’ll sit around for 11 days and just talk about God. Wouldn’t that be something else.

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