Message from Indianapolis
God’s peace and blessings to you from your deputation in Indianapolis. Our day began yesterday with the UTO Ingathering service. At the offertory, every diocesan UTO representative presented a check to the Presiding Bishop to fund this wonderful ministry. Elisabeth Welch, our UTO Commission chair from Dothan, represented the Central Gulf Coast at this festive event.
The Presiding Bishop’s sermon focused on the challenges of being a prophetic voice in the world. However, she insisted that we are all called to be prophets and to share God’s truth regardless of these challenges.
Following the service there was a picnic sponsored by the Diocese of Indianapolis in the adjoining Victory Field stadium. The host diocese graciously provided us with plenty of food and live entertainment.
Our afternoon legislative session was opened with prayer and a meditation by The Rev. Dr. Frank Wade of Washington. Frank is currently the Interim Dean at the National Cathedral and was the Chaplain to the General Convention in Anaheim in 2009. Hismeditation consisted of reflections on the General Convention from the late Pamela Chinnis who was the President of the House of Deputies from 1991-2000.
Reflecting on restructuring of the church, Ms. Chinnis cautioned against rapid restructuring until we had done the work of self-discovery. She observed, “I feel it best to not rush to solve the problems (of structure) until we have given the time to share our common gifts. From ‘who’ we are will come the ‘how’ to transform the church structure.” Quoting Ms. Chinnis on the concept of “unity” within the church, she said, “Sameness does not constitute unity.” He concluded his meditation about the importance of respecting each other’s differences when debating the issues before us.
We considered a number of resolutions during our Legislative Session yesterday.One important piece was a constitutional change concerning the election of bishops. Under the Constitution, any person elected bishop within 120 days of the General Convention had to have his or her election ratified by the General Convention. All bishop elections more than 120 days from the next General Convention are ratified by the majority consent of the Standing Committees of all the dioceses of The Episcopal Church. Yesterday’s vote has now removed this power from the House of Deputies andall bishop elections will be ratified solely by the Standing Committees of the Church.
In other matters, the House also voted to continue financial support for the Forward Movement, Episcopal Church in Haiti, and Indigenous Theological Training for Native Americans.
The Legislative session concluded with a presentation by Robert Radtke, Director of Episcopal Relief and Development. ERD is one of the better outreach missions of The Episcopal Church. It’s “Nets for Life” initiative has purchased over eight and half million mosquito nets for the people of Africa since 2009. The result of this endeavor is that the lives of over 100,000 children under five were saved from the fatal effects of malaria and other mosquito borne diseases.
We will address the issues of the budget tomorrow and church structure and liturgy on Wednesday. We will report to you daily on the work of the House of Deputies.
It has been an honor to represent the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast at this General Convention. It has also been a pleasure to work with the Bishop and the other fine deputies. Please know we are grateful to you for allowing us to represent you in Indianapolis. As always, you remain in our thoughts and prayers.