“Preparing” for the 2012 General Convention ... in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina
It’s interesting, now, to see the rather quietly frantic efforts of bishops and rectors all around TECusa trying to “prepare” their flock for the coming every-three-year catastrophe that is now the General Convention train wreck. As I’ve pointed out a number of times before, every three years a fresh tsunami of lunacy arrives on the shores of far-distant dioceses and parishes from wherever General Convention has shipwrecked itself, bringing with it the tops of houses, dead cows, floating cars, jet fuel oil scum, and black tar voted on by the Leaders Of The Asylum that is our church. Every three years, clergy back at home brace themselves for a fresh wave of departures, less money and involvement, and more apathy from any who are informed and remain. General Conventions are deeply dreaded, and almost universally plunge parishes into fresh crisis, all at a regular, pre-scheduled rhythm. Every three years, parishes “on the edge” of survival are shoved over the cliff by GC’s chaotic, incompetent, buffoonishly-ham-handed, heretical pronouncements and actions.
What the word “prepare” means is bishops and rectors offering just enough information and
group therapy caring-and-sharing “dialogue opportunities” that will prevent, in the wake of the conclusion of the General Convention, as many people leaving and/or re-designating their pledge dollars to more fruitful organizations as possible, while at the same time not offering so much information about what is coming that it provokes startled clutching of handbags and wallets during This Holy Season of Stewardship in which clergy and bishops rediscover a fresh appreciation of Biblical literalism and Teachings On The Tithe. “Too much information” may provoke cardinal rectors into chastising bishops for “scaring the flock prematurely.” If a parish is going to “take the hit” why not take it at The Dread Event, rather than a year or more earlier?
For an objective traditional Episcopalian like me, it affords endless opportunities for both amusement and pathos, and I will do my best in the coming months to highlight the “preparatory” efforts.
In my diocese, the bishop has sent out a letter to deans and wardens. Although I have a copy of the letter, I won’t be publishing it simply because I don’t want to publicize the planned group therapy sessions, since I suspect that very few people will bother to attend—and rightly so.
However, here are a few excerpts:
Providing the venue and structure for that conversation over the next nine months will be necessary if we are to be most fully prepared – in unity, love and knowledge – and to move most gracefully toward General Convention in July, 2012. As most of you know, The Episcopal Church will address the rites for same-gender blessings at General Convention.
Love that second “by the way” sentence!
We have prepared a process for dialogue within the convocations that is very similar to that of Theological Council, and we believe that three separate sessions in each convocation will be most fruitful over the next nine months.
Considering the debacle that was our diocesan “Theological Council” [I never bothered to write a report on it, but it was characterized by almost no public response from the horrified conservatives there, and plenty of texts and emails to me!], I think the bishop has established a mightily reachable “standard” for the convocations.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for us to have these dialogues in the coming nine months. It will make a huge difference in how we make it through the likely storm ahead. More important, they will establish and strengthen relationships across the diocese in ways that will bear much fruit in many areas that have nothing to do with controversies in the Church. They will help us to come to know more deeply who we are as the Body of Christ in this place at this time.
Well—hope springs eternal I suppose. I think we have all “come to know” the diocese pretty well in the past eight long loooooooonnnnngggggg years. “Who We Are:”
—predominantly liberal clergy
—increasingly distanced conservative laity, many of whom have hunkered down on their pocketbooks
—a large group of traditional moderates who desperately wish that this could all have not been pushed and that their own individual parishes might have been saved
—predominantly [thought not entirely] liberal and distanced diocesan house leadership, including three revisionist canons-to-the-ordinary in the past seven years [at least two of which managed to screw up numerous parish search processes—at least for the parishes, not for the agenda of the canons] and one revisionist “canon for youth formation” which led to parents ceasing sending their youth to diocesan youth events
—a deeply divided diocese consisting of groups of people who do not share the same Gospel, values, foundational worldview, goals, or much of anything at all
—a growing chasm of distance and detachment among all parties
But at any rate, at least the revisionists can converse among themselves, as they did at the “Theological Council.” Perhaps they can have some microphones set up for various speeches about family members who are gay and other reasoned discourse on theology and practice. That will really show us all—because of course, none of the conservatives have *ever* had family members who are gay.
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