Thursday, July 12, 2012

July 12 - Blogging GC'12

There were two protests yesterday to the passage by General Convention the day before of the Blessings resolution (A049). No one could pretend they didn’t see this coming without confessing a nearly incredible innocence. So, no doubt the protests were planned, at least foreseen, and the emotional tone was controlled.

Twelve bishops signed and had read on the floor of the House of Bishops (HoB) a “minority report” expressing their dissent from passage of the rite for blessing same-sex unions.

Also, the deputation and bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina issued a statement and departed from Convention, leaving two deputies behind on the floor of the House of Deputies (HoD) to make clear they have not left The Episcopal Church itself.

We are in the home stretch. Convention ends late this afternoon at 6:30 p.m. whether we’re finished with all the legislation or not. One of our “consent” calendars (schedules of resolutions voted on without debate) was 48 pages long yesterday.

Other efficiencies were introduced yesterday as well. On a motion from one of the deputies, speakers are now limited to 2 minutes instead of 3, and total debate time on any resolution is limited to 20 minutes instead of 30. We also decided to consider first (and so out of order) all the resolutions that originate in the HoD and still need to go to HoB. Then we'll take up resolutions that HoB has already acted on but that still need HoD's action.

The major resolution on “Structure” passed in the HoB yesterday, and the budget passed without amendment in both Houses. The budget is sadly weak in funding for communications, especially at a time when we most need to get our message out about the healing love of Christ and the wonderful life-giving work of The Episcopal Church. But the sentiment in HoD, I think, was that we could not afford to begin changing line items in what – given the conversations about “structure” over the next triennium – is surely a transitional budget plan that will need basic reform at the next Convention.

HoD implicitly promised to conduct our work judiciously before going into recess yesterday at about 6:45 p.m. – agreeing not to speak in favor of resolutions we support unless someone speaks against, to keep amendments to an absolute minimum, and to minimize also all procedural motions. We have 60 resolutions to consider in this morning’s three-hour session that still need to go to the HoB for action.

One final note:  I have tried my best to “go paperless” at this General Convention, with moderate success. The limitations of tablet computers at this point make it difficult, so I’ve had both my iPad and my MacBook at Convention, keeping the latter in my hotel room for functions my tablet cannot perform. This has helped, but the process is still a bit clunky. My bet is that three years from now it will be much easier.

Also, I have followed the Twittersphere this time. Much of what I’ve seen from the very select set of tweeters I follow has been redundant, though of course if I weren’t here it would be like nearly live coverage as a scrolling line on the bottom of the TV screen posts updates constantly. But I have learned some things from tweets I would not have seen otherwise, at least not nearly so quickly. And I have used text messaging to coordinate work on legislation with friends from other dioceses. This has been very useful.

As an old dog trying to learn some new tricks, with some success, I'm looking forward to what wireless devices can do to facilitate this work three years from now.

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