We are back, Angela, Jean, Mariclair+ and me, from Diocesan Convention, and I am in the office for a couple of minutes after a session down at Cookie Bake, before going out for some pastoral calls. I wanted to start with getting some reflections down "on blog" from our experience this weekend at the Convention...and I hope to fold in Angela's and Jean's thoughts into another post soon.
The first question I was asked when I arrived for Church on Sunday morning was from Kyle Evans: "How was it?"
That inquiry, I know, was loaded with both care and concern for our delegation, for our Bishop and for the Diocese. My answer was simple, and one Angela, Jean and I concluded on as we rode back together from the Cathedral at close of business (Mariclair+ has teller duties to clear up and had driven down on her own): "It was surreal."
After three years, six sessions of Convention and a whole load of acrimony, stress and argument on the floor of our common counsel as the Church in this Diocese, this year just felt like we were there to do what needed to be done...in order to go home. One of the things that was missing was that sense of heightened adrenaline and contentiousness of precious Diocesan Conventions, but in its absence was only a slight dawning sense that the family had gathered for a big change that none of us really knew how to deal with, our Bishop's inhibition. Most of what we seem to have been in conflict over for the past years that I have been a resident priest in this Diocese seemed to have been tamped down by the fact that in only a few short hours our bishop was only hours away from entering with us all into a state of suspension. I think it was not lost on many of us, as he opened Convention business with a celebration of Holy Eucharist, that this liturgy may very well be the last time we break bread together as Bishop and people, regardless of how the legal process of the Trial of a Bishop works out.
So, the question dangling in the air throughout was, for me, "Where do we go from here?"
We passed a budget. We made some constitutional changes. We argued for a time about the wording of a resolution about the beleaguered Wapiti Camp and Conference Center. The bishop gaveled us into two business sessions and through six ballots for the election of Diocesan Officers...and then, it was over. The hard part will be figuring out how to be a Diocese while this whole process works itself out. We can't just sit and wait...and yet the next step is quite literally uncharted. We don't know what happens next.
Coming home was a significant blessing and a dramatic change of pace. Sunday was a chaotic panoply of baptisms, processions of children dressed as the saints of God and a bundle of announcements around stewardship, outreach and mission opportunities. We did run a little long at the main service. One young parishioner, with a digital watch set to timer mode, ran up after the service with the words, "Mom told me to tell you that the service was EXACTLY 1 hour and 22 minutes TO THE SECOND." I didn't get a chance to ask him if he timed my sermon! The extreme downside to yesterday and an unfortunate occurrence directly ascribed to the truth of Murphy's Law was that after a couple of weeks of being "hinky" a circuit breaker in our amplification system chose Sunday morning to die a wicked death. So, the rector had to break out his "cathedral voice" for the morning's liturgies. Call it "old School" celebration style. Suffice it to say that I don't have much of a voice today...God bless our resident IT expert, Jon, who brought a power strip in and was able to rig us up for sound at Evensong.
So, as we move into a new season in the life of the Diocese, I am mindful that we can't really take anything for granted. God really does create the Church anew in each generation. We seem to be deeply into that transformation here in our little corner of Bucks County...as well as across this Diocesan community.
God keep us and bless us...and guide this Church, our Standing Committee, our Bishop and us as we navigate unknown waters.