"We are the Jesus Movement!"
The last day of General Convention is a bittersweet time. We are all very tired and ready to go home but it has also hard to say goodbye to our colleagues in ministry who we have worked beside these last 10 plus days. We have greeted old friends and made new friends; we have enjoyed the hospitality of all of the folks in Salt Lake City; we have studied resolutions, debated resolutions, amended resolutions and voted on resolutions; we have navigated new electronic equipment to help us in the legislative process; and we have worshipped together every morning. It is hard to describe how powerful an experience it is to worship with 1200 plus Episcopalians in one large worship space. The music was spirit filled and the sermons inspiring. This morning we had the great pleasure of listening to our Presiding Bishop-elect Michael Curry.
As I write this we are finishing up the last pieces of business of convention and saying our good-byes. Thanks so much to the people of VT for your prayers of support. Thanks also to our Bishop Tom for his leadership and support. And a very special thanks to our Communications Minister, Kathleen. She has done an amazing job keeping in touch with all of you at home and letting you know of all that has happened here at #GC78.
In the words of Bishop Michael Curry: "I love this church. I love the Lord. And God isn't finished with us yet!
Bishop Tom and Ann Ely with the Vermont deputation to General Convention at their goodbye dinner in Salt Lake City. In Bishop Ely's words, "celebrating a wonderful and momentous General Convention."
Thursday -- next-to-last day of General Convention. Where did the time go? I confess there's something to be said for living in a place where somebody else cooks for you and cleans up after you!
And it was evening and it was morning, a seventh day…
But we did not rest. Instead, we worked hard — physically as we sat most of the day; mentally as we worked our way through many complex and difficult resolutions; and spiritually/emotionally as we considered what this church means by full inclusion
The day started out with the commemoration of Hiram Hisanoi Kano, born in Japan, but who later became a missioner to the Nisei (people of Japanese descent) in Nebraska. As a special treat, the congregation heard kneshin taiko drums. They seemed to presage the eventful decisions that would come later on in the day.
At the same time that the congregation experienced energetic Japanese drumming, it also sang some very familiar hymns. To sing ‘Humby I adore thee’ with 3000 other people reminds one that General Convention is not just about legislation but also about connecting with a much larger whole and rich history.
The most momentous decisions of the day came in the late afternoon in the House of Deputies. Despite the late hour, the house took up two resolutions (A054 amended and A036 amended) — one that calls on the church to provide marriage rites for all and the other that recasts the marriage canon (I.18).
Hello to Vermont! I am a second-time deputy from The Episcopal Church in Vermont to General Convention.
Pictured: President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings with Vermont deputies Scott Neal, Rick Swanson, and Jenny Ogelby
This time I feel like I have a much better understanding of what is happening thanks to The Virtual Binder.
After the Integrity Eucharist at which he was recognized for his work for equality, Bishop Ely posed for a photo with Integrity USA founder Louie Clay and his Husband Ernest.
On the fifth day of legislative business (June 29), Bishop Ely introduced two key marriage resolutions to the House of Bishops. As he gave his introductory statement and continued to answer questions and explain elements of the complex resolutions, the House of Deputies News Twitter feed commended him for his "patient heavy lifting in debate." Also on Twitter, the Rev. Susan Russell argued "if you're not streaming the HoB [House of Bishops] you are missing @BishopVT10 [Bishop Ely] in a brilliantly prophetic moment."
The resolutions passed with 129 voting yes, 26 voting no and 5 abstensions. Bishop Ely reported that he was "joyous with the results in the House of Bishops on A054 and A036. Many LBTQ people and allies worked hard and reamained faithful in bringing us to this day."
That evening, Integrity USA, a nonprofit organization of LGBTQ Episcopalians and straight friends celebrating its 40th anniversary, hosted an Integrity Eucharist in the worship space at General Convention. The Rev. Susan Russell recognized Bishop Ely for his tireless work for equality. He was given a standing ovation by the large crowd. A proud moment for the Vermonters present.
For today's deputation diary, Nanci Gordon gives us a true day-in-the-life for a deputy to General Convetion. Follow along as she goes throug her day (and watch for a special appearance by Presiding Bishop-Elect Michael Curry)!
It's been a week of important news and moving moments at General Convention. This holds especially true for the Rev. Stannard Baker, who offers his video deputation diary today. If the below embed doesn't work for you, watch it on YouTube.
Bishop Ely created a video diary on this big day at General Convention. If the below embed does not work for you, watch the video on YouTube.
I am now serving in my fifteenth year as bishop of Vermont, where for all those years the state of Vermont has made legal provision for the union of same-sex couples, first by civil union and now by way of marriage. My relationships with the people of Vermont have significantly shaped by understanding and convictions related to same-sex marriage. I rejoice in the decision made by the Supreme Court today that guarantees the right to same-sex marriage to all Americans. It is just and honest.
I especially want to recognize and congratulate two members of the Episcopal Church in Vermont who have been seminal to the movement that has brought us here. The Rev. Stannard Baker was the lead plaintiff in Baker vs. Vermont, the 1999 case in which the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the benefits and protections of marriage. Vermont was the first state to do so. I also want to recognize Tom Little, Esq., who was the chair of the judiciary committee that wrote the Vermont civil unions law in 2000. Later, Tom chaired the statewide Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection. The findings of this commission paved the way for civil unions to give way to full marriage equality in 2008.
I believe equality is a gospel value, a justice value, a missional value, and a pastoral value. Securing the right to marriage to all people is a practice consistent with the long-held values of civil equality held by the Episcopal Church. I celebrate today with all same-sex couples who are now granted this fundamental right.
My plan for today was to write about General Convention Legislative Committees and how they are so critical to the work we do here at Convention. Public hearings must be held by one of our 22 committees on every resolution before it can be presented--in original or amended form--before the two houses, bishops and deputies. Six of our deputies and our bishop serve on committees, and the other two deputies and our two alternates monitor the work of of other committees. We are busy from early morning well into the evening.
But today was not an ordinary day at General Convention. We learned this morning of the Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality, and our deputation, along with many others, rejoiced. And rejoicing, we continued the work of Convention. Here are some images from my day here in Salt Lake City.
Bishop and Ann Ely, Anne Brown, and Lee Crawford indulge in a selfie after the morning Eucharist.
Check out first-time Vermont alternate deputy Joshua Cheney's General Convention cell phone video diary. This is the second of a daily diary (video or blog post) that will be posted each day by a different Vermont Deputy. If the video embed below doesn't work for you, watch it on YouTube.
Ever wonder what it's like to be at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church? Let first-time Vermont Deputy the Rev. Rick Swanson show you with his cell phone video diary! This is the first of a daily diary (video or blog post) that will be posted each day by a different Vermont Deputy. If the video embed below does not work for you, watch it on YouTube.
On Thursday, June 18th, Holy Trinity, Swanton held a Celebration of New Ministry, welcoming the Rev. Rob Spainhour as Rector. The celebration fell on the day following the tragedy at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Ven. Calhoun Walpole of Charleston, South Carolina preached. The words of her wonderful sermon are printed below:
The Ven. Calhoun Walpole, the Rev. Rob Spainhour, and the Rt. Rev. Thomas Ely.
Installation of the Reverend Rob Spainhour
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
June 18th, 2015
I come to you today from Charleston, South Carolina...
It is so fitting that in this service in which Rob is instituted as your new rector, that the Collect prayed is a Good Friday Collect:
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection/completion/wholeness by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord...
The Reverend Norman Runnion, priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, died early this morning at Gifford Hospital, Randolph. Below is a photo from the Facebook page of St. John’s, Randolph. It is from a recent home communion visit with the Rev. Susan Taylor, Rector of St. John’s. Norm was a journalist/war correspondent and Editor of the Brattleboro Reformer before answering his call to ordained ministry in mid-life. He served as Rector at St. Martin's Fairlee until his retirement and served many parishes in a supply capacity.
The Rev. Susan Taylor commented, “His long term fight with Parkinson's disease took a toll on him physically but his clear-mindedness and wit remained untouched. His faith was persistent through it all. Even in the hours before his move into the Garden Room at Gifford Hospital for palliative care, his desire was to have portions of the Prayerbook and Psalms read. Many loving and caring people stood by him with singing and stories. It was a loving ending to a long saga.”
Please remember Norm, his wife Linda and their family in your prayers.
Faithfully yours in Christ
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