Sunday, May 31, 2009
Synod was nuts. Fun, but nuts! Got up at 4:30 A.M. on Friday to give me time to pack and to finish the stuff for our workshop. We were a little later leaving from the church than planned, but we still made it to the Synod location (Durham College in Oshawa) before registration closed. As a result, however, I always felt like I was barely keeping with the day's events. Along the way I put down my seersucker jacket on the back of a chair and went back for it there was no sign. Lost and found hadn't received it. Hopefully someone will turn it into the campus security soon. Otherwise, it's a causality of war. Bummer, I love my seersucker suit!
Anyway, I set up a display for the ARC. People seemed to like what they saw and heard about. No word on a grant, yet. Cross your fingers!
Phil Potter came from the U.K. to talk about Fresh Expressions and Missional Church. I was struck that a lot of people in our Diocese hadn't heard of these concepts before. Hopefully this Synod took care of that. We probably spent two-thirds of our time talking about Missional Church and the other third talking about the same-sex blessing issue. We did that (in both cases) using the Indaba process that the Archbishop of Canterbury used at the last Lambeth Conference. So the pattern was gathering as a whole synod (some 600 people?) for worship and singing, bible study, and listening to a talk by the Bishop or Phil Potter. Then we'd go off into smaller Indaba groups of about 40 people to share. Our group was fine, though I did hear that some of the Indaba groups got little uncomfortable when the same sex issue was discussed.
You see, the Bishops are proposing a policy that would create a structure to last in this interim time of uncertainty in the church. They believe the question of whether the church will recognize "gay marriage" is really up to the national church. Yet, in the mean time, there is a need to establish a "generous pastoral response" to gay and lesbian Christians who come to us seeking the blessing of the church. The proposed policy would allow a small number of parishes chosen by the bishop to offer blessings to long-term, committed relationships. No parish and no priest will be required to participate. The bishop will have to give permission for the blessings on a one-by-one basis. The policy would also involve the drafting of guidelines for how that blessing would look, liturgically, but it clearly fill fall short of a "marriage." In addition, a group will be formed to evaluate and oversee the implementation of this policy.
In our Indaba group of about 40 there were only four people that didn't like the direction the Diocese was heading, but almost of them said that they "could live with" with the policy. I heard that some other groups were more contentious. For the time being, however, nothing changes. This is only a proposal. The vote will come later, probably at the next Synod that gathers at St. Paul's Bloor Street in November.
On Friday afternoon Kerrie and gave our workshop. We had about 30 people in the room. I had a Powerpoint presentation and handouts and posters on the walls and books for people to look at. The hour went quickly, but people seemed to get something out of it. One person told that they found it very "permission giving."
Friday sessions weren't over until 9 p.m. After that many of headed to the campus pub. I brought my bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon. The bar didn't seem to mind for the first couple of hours. Eventually the manager did come over and take my booze! She kept it behind the bar until I left. At the pub I had many fine conversations with friends and colleagues. Eventually they closed the bar around 2 A.M. A couple of us went back to a room to keep the party going. I finally went to bed at 4:30 A.M.
I admit I was a little tired when I showed up to morning prayer at 8:30... but at least I was there. Coffee... Coffee... More coffee... More sessions and Indaba groups. The whole thing wrapped up around 3 and we got on the road not long after that. During the conference they had separated the members of the parishes from each other, so it was only in the car ride home that the three of us from Church of The Messiah could talk and share. It seems that people enjoyed themselves and learned some new things.
Back at home I was toast. I had Chinese delivery and watched the recording of the Blue Jays FINALLY winning a game. Went to bed at 6 p.m.--slept until 6 a.m. this morning! Got up, felt great. More in my next post!