The Flavor of General Convention
Comments from Deputations around the Country

From 3rd Street (between Gay and Broad), Monday, June 12, Dan Martins+ - Diocese of San Joaquin
June 12th, 2006

Yes, that’s the location of the hotel where the San Joaquin deputation is staying. Somebody has a sense of humor!

Day Minus One has been a feast of over-stimulation, beginning with finding out that it’s a very brisk five block walk from the hotel to the Convention Center–not the leisurely stroll it was in Minneapolis–and then another very long bit of walking once inside to get to where the action is.

The first meetings of the Special Legislative Committee on Anglican Communion Relations (or whatever it’s actually called–I can’t remember) got through the mind-numbing phase today as we settled on when we will hold hearings for which of the 21 resolutions that are on our plate. I had the joy of sitting next to my old friend Bishop Ed Little, formerly a priest in San Joaquin and now Bishop of Northern Indiana. I am, I have to say, optomistic about the outcome of this committee’s work. I believe we will produce resolutions that will strengthen those that we have received. Out of the committee’s 19 members, there are seven reliable “conservative” votes (my own among them) and five reliable “liberal” votes. The remaining seven will be the “swing” votes, but I am impressed that they all, as they spoke, voiced an intense commitment to the Episcopal Church being a full constituent member of the Anglican Communion, so I sense an openness to the necessity of responding to the Windsor Report clearly on its own terms.

Speaking of Bishop Little, I am fond of his analysis of the situation, that among both “Liberals” and “Conservatives,” there “bridge builders” and “bridge burners.” While the Diocese of San Joaquin is rather overwhelmingly “conservative” (I hate labels but I think you know what I mean) in its views of the controversial moral issues, there are in our midst both “bridge builders” and “bridge burners” and I think this diversity is represented even within our deputation. I have friends, both within and beyond the diocese, in both camps (and also a few actual Liberal friends as well!). These are people I love and respect. For my own part, I am a bridge-building Conservative. I am not yet ready to accept the “two churches” rhetoric that we hear so much. I have hope that we can respond to the requests of the other Anglican churches with sufficient clarity that the Episcopal Church will retain the Anglican “franchise” for the territory we currently cover. The trick will be to do so in a way that will receive “buy-in” from both moderate Deputies and Bishops, and at the same time (I hope) respond positively to the aspirations of those Conservatives who are tempted to be “bridge burners,” and are expecting a response that will give them “permission” to set up an alternative jurisdiction that will compete for the Anglican “franchise.” I may well, in the end, be disappointed in my hopes and join them. I will remain Anglican before remaining Episcopalian. But I’ve not given up hope.

In any case, events like this remind me what a “small” church we are. There may be a couple of million of us, but everywhere I went today I ran across a friend or acquaintaince or former colleague from somewhere in my 32 years in the Episcopal Church. That’s another reason I’m not ready to burn my bridges.

Let me say once again (as Fr Snell, my roommate, snores in the background!), how much we all in the deputation appreciate the prayer support from folks “back home.” Keep them rising, and may your tribe increase!

Fr Dan Martins

 

 

 

 

 

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