Debby Stokes picked me up yesterday morning in Springfield and we and Dick Burnett, riding shotgun, drove to Indianapolis for the beginning of General Convention. We checked in and grabbed a quick lunch in the hotel sports bar before Debby headed off to the meeting for legislative committee officers. They met to orient and prepare for leading the tasks of the 21 legislative committees that will work during Convention. Debby is Chair of the House of Deputies branch of the Education Committee, which like the others meets with their House of Bishops counterpart committee to coordinate deliberations about resolutions to be considered during Convention.
The Diocese of Southern Ohio deputation is staying at the JW Marriott, which is easy to get to by car from I-70. It is linked to the Indiana Convention Center and other hotels by skywalks in the heart of Indianapolis. Many exhibiters had arrived the day before to set up booths in the exhibit hall, and with deputies, bishops, and others arriving yesterday, the place was abuzz with reunions and all manner of schmoozing.
It would be difficult to find a more diverse car load of deputies than Debby Stokes, Dick Burnett, and Don Reed. Debby has been attending General Convention for 30 years, a deputy for over 20 of those, and knows everything about our church. Dick knows everyone, it seems, and remembers where they went to school, what they studied there, the books they've been reading recently, who their friends are, and whether they are Coke or Pepsi people, coffee or tea, mustard or mayo. Both of them are off the charts on the "E" end of the extroversion-introversion spectrum, and I am over on the other "I" end. My approach to huge gatherings of fellow church geeks involves somewhat more trepidation.
I love the fact that we discuss every disagreement under the sun and endeavor to remain in one big tent, if nonetheless gathered in sub-groups under its various corners or around its center poles. But to be interacting with this many people (around 1000 voting members of Convention, plus many other informed and passionate folk), on matters about which we care deeply, is enough to make me quiver.
Still, I'm delighted to be here to follow and work on two concerns in particular, the first being the next phase of the Blessings Project, concerning development of a rite for trial use by the whole Episcopal Church for blessing same-sex unions. The other is a set of diverse resolutions on the conflict in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians. I will blog especially about these two issues in the coming days. My first meeting with legislative committee #13, "Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music," begins in a few hours. So I'm off now for a dawn run along the White River Wapahani Trail.
Happy [and safe] 4th of July to everyone!