Convention 2008

Posted on October 22, 2008

Convention delegates voteDuring the week of October 13, the Diocese of California engaged in convention activities, concluding with the business meeting on Saturday, October 18. Convention week opened with regional events on Monday and Wednesday evening, led by the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, bishop of California, the Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, assistant bishop of California, and the Rt. Rev. Naudal Alves Gomes, the bishop of Curitiba, Brazil, companion diocese to the Diocese of California. On Friday, a Eucharist service was held at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, followed by a dance party on the cathedral’s plaza. On Saturday, over 400 clergy and lay delegates gathered at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco for Morning Prayer and an address by Andrus. The participants then moved downstairs to Gresham Hall where they voted on committee members, changes to the constitution and canons, and a total of seven resolutions. (Information about voting results is available at diocal.org/convention .)

 

The regional events at the beginning of the week featured a conversation with the gathered bishops about their experiences at the Lambeth Conference. Then Gomes, his wife Carmen Regina, and his sister Carmem Etel spoke about their home diocese of Curitiba. The evenings concluded with an introduction to a Bible study that can be used in communal discernment for building area ministry.

 

On the evening of Friday, October 17, the convention Eucharist was celebrated at Grace Cathedral. The service featured liturgical dance expressions by the Omega West Dance Company and the seating of Charleston as assistant bishop to the diocese. “In the face of the reality experienced internally nowadays in the Anglican Church,” Gomes preached, “we need to be more and more engaged with the Good News of reconciliation. With gestures of hospitality and welcome; with attitudes of listening and inclusion of all people; in the search for life in communion, love, and solidarity; others might see our actions and say, ‘They have so much love for one another.’ Who knows, they might even consider this proposal for a life in Christ.”

Along with the dancing and Gomes’ homily, Brazilian combo Entre Nos offered wonderful Brazilian music in the cathedral. After the service, worshippers moved to the cathedral plaza to join the Brazilian themed Episc-o-party. Green and yellow lights lit up the façade of the cathedral, tapas and other Brazilian delectables were available to eat, while the Revs. Bertie Pearson and Steve Hasset played dance music.

The day of business on Saturday began with Morning Prayer and Andrus’ address to the diocese. In his address, Andrus spoke of the Compassion Mandala image by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM, reflecting on the great need for healing at every level of existence, as Christ broods over the whole of creation in the image. Using the parable of the Prodigal as translated and reconstructed by Bernard Brandon Scott, Andrus reflected on the pain of atonement, the resurrection that comes from doing that work, and the grace that makes it possible. “We must go down to the fountains of life,” he said, “to grace itself. And this is what animates the whole healing process. It is only God, it is only and always God who will allow us and enable us to do this work of healing.”

The crowd then moved to Gresham Hall to conduct the business of the day. The distinguished visitors from Brazil were introduced, as was the president of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson, who was recognized for her work in the church. Courtesy resolutions honoring these guests were adopted.

The Rev. Stacey Grossman delivered a report from the Standing Committee. She spoke about the committee’s work on governance review, moving the diocese toward greater transparency and communication through the changes to the constitution and canons adopted at the Special Convention held last May. She also outlined the committee’s goals for the coming year, to complete and implement the Called to Right Relationship safe church policy for the diocese, to provide strategies for challenged parishes, and to examine the Standing Committee’s role as a council of advice to the bishop. She specifically recognized the Rev. Martha Kuhlmann for her work, especially as chair of the Committee on Nominations.

Tim Smith gave the final report from Diocesan Council, which will be dissolved at the end of the year in accordance with the adopted governance changes, speaking about their work in bringing groups from across the diocese together in greater collaboration, in guiding assessment appeals, and in initiating the Deanery Review Task Force. Smith also took advantage of his address to acknowledge the comprehensive Called to Right Relationship safe church policy and the many people who have contributed to its successful roll out. He cited the experience of one participant who, after completing the online training course, wrote, “I had three reactions to completing this course, in the following sequence: 1. When I learned about the requirement I thought, ‘Oh gee...another bureaucratic nuisance and waste of time;’ 2. When starting reading through the examples in the course it was uncomfortable emotionally — no one likes thinking about these kinds of things happening to children; 3. By the time I was done I thought, ‘Everyone should have this kind of information and training.’”

During the assistant bishop’s report, Charleston spoke about his work as ethnic and multicultural missioner. He named the history of oppression that many ethnic communities in the diocese have experienced, and describe his role as one of acknowledging that history. “Ultimately, what we will seek to do in this ministry is to find healing and reconciliation for those bad memories, a restoration of justice, and a renewal of relationships among all of us taking equal part in the building of the Beloved Community.”

At lunch, there were breakout sessions on Area Ministry, General Convention, and the proposed resolutions and changes to the constitution and canons. Delegates then returned to Gresham Hall to hear the treasurer’s report and vote on the assessment formula and budget, both of which passed. The convention then turned its attention to the proposed changes in the constitution and canons, changes made predominantly to clarify the governance changes made at the Special Convention in May. All proposed changes passed. Changes to the canons will become effective January 1, 2009, but changes to the constitution will not be effective until passed again at the next convention.

Seven resolutions were considered. Four of them presented resolutions to be forwarded to the 76th General Convention in 2009, including a resolution to allow congregations to continue using the 1979 Book of Common Prayer Lectionary with permission from their bishop, a resolution requesting additional support for clergy of ethnic congregations in the name of clergy wellness, a resolution encouraging support and action on environmental stewardship in US Government policies, and a resolution supporting scientific integrity in environmental policy. The resolution on the lectionary failed; the other three resolutions passed. Three other resolutions were passed: one expressing opposition to the death penalty; one expressing support for marriage equality and opposition to California’s Proposition 8, and one calling for an in-depth study of diocesan institutions and their relationship with the diocese.

At the end of the day, there was a special video tribute to the Very Rev. Alan Jones, dean of Grace Cathedral who will retire at the end of January 2009. A courtesy resolution honoring his ministry in the diocese was adopted. The eighth annual Margaret Wosser Award for progress in planned giving was awarded to Clausen House in Oakland, which helps people with developmental disabilities to lead more independent and fulfilling lives; Peter Brooks, development director, accepted the award on behalf of Clausen House. The engaging day concluded with a prayer from Andrus.