When Madison Episcopalians met in May to talk about General Convention, we highlighted several issues that we thought we be at the top of the agenda for the triennial meeting. The issues we selected were same-sex blessings, the Anglican Communion and Covenant, the budget and restructuring. As we met that month, we added another item to the list, communion without baptism.
We guessed correctly. All of these issues were discussed and to some degree shaped the convention’s narrative. The larger culture took note of General Convention because of the decision to approve liturgies for same-sex blessings but for the life of the church, for its future, it may be that other decisions will have a greater long-term impact.
Certainly, the task force on restructuring that was established has the potential to transform the church on all levels. The full story from Episcopal News Service is here. I’ve had a great deal to say about restructuring on this blog. It is a crucial element in our effort to transform and adapt the Episcopal Church for the twenty-first century. We are in a period of rapid change. The old structures and institutions are in crisis across the board (not just religious institutions) and we are developing new ways of organizing ourselves and relating to one another. Christianity has seen such change before in its history and has responded creatively, although often that change has come at great cost (the Protestant Reformation, for example).
In fact, the biggest story out of General Convention may have nothing to do with the things that were voted on. Instead, the biggest story may be the restructuring and reorganizing that took place on the edges of convention. Twitter was alive with the hashtag #gc77, creating networks and relationships, building community in cyberspace. The Acts 8 movement, begun by three bloggers, has already become a community geared toward transformation. Read Nurya Love Parish’s post here. More about the Acts 8 moment here.
It’s far too early to judge the significance of this General Convention. We may not know for a decade or two whether what was set in motion in Indianapolis will transform the church. No doubt some of what was ventured during the last two weeks will fail. But there was passion, excitement, and hope, not only in Indy, but among those of us who participated in the conversations from afar. There is also God’s grace and God’s working in the world. I pray that our church will be a channel of that grace.
From the Episcopal News Service: Re-envisioning the Church for the 21st century
From Andy Jones