The Episcopal Church concluded its 79th General Convention last week and completed some marvelous work.
One issue of interest to me was the revision of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The House of Deputies proposed a specific plan to revise the prayer book, with a new edition to be released in 2030. (Yikes! I don’t want to calculate my age in that year.)
The house of Bishops rewrote the proposal to form a Task Force on Liturgical and Prayer Book Revision (TFLPBR), and states:
Resolved, That bishops engage worshiping communities in experimentation and the creation of alternative texts to offer to the wider church, and that each diocese be urged to create a liturgical commission to collect, reflect, teach and share these resources with the TFLPBR; and be it further
Resolved, That the TFLPBR in consultation with the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons is directed to propose to the 80th General Convention revisions to the Constitution and Canons to enable The Episcopal Church to be adaptive in its engagement of future generations of Episcopalians, multiplying, connecting, and disseminating new liturgies for mission, attending to prayer book revision in other provinces of the Anglican Communion…
The resolution states that “That this Convention [will] memorialize the 1979 Book of Common Prayer as a Prayer Book of the church preserving the psalter, liturgies, The Lambeth Quadrilateral, Historic Documents, and Trinitarian Formularies ensuring its continued use…”
Note that the resolution says “a Prayer Book of the church” and not “the Prayer Book of the church.”
The House of Deputies concurred with this resolution by a voice vote. It was a marvelous spirit of cooperation.
Good stuff, all of that.
In a related decision, the convention made all marriage sacraments available to all couples, both same-sex and opposite-sex. I will allow Susan Russell to explain.
Much more was accomplished as well. It was a productive convention.
We preempt our regularly scheduled blog to bring you the royal wedding sermon by The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. It is well worth fourteen minutes of your time. You may want to have a Kleenex handy.
We lost Ann Fontaine last week.
Ann was a well-known figure to Episcopalians online. I knew her through her blog, through the Episcopal Café, and through Facebook.
I was aware that she had some lung issues, but somehow I had the impression that those issues were under control. However, Ann announced before Ash Wednesday that she was not going to observe Lent this year – she had enough to focus on with her own health. She, in effect, put herself into self-managed hospice care. Somewhere around Easter she called in the hospice professionals. Her daughter let us know last week that Ann died peacefully in her sleep.
We will miss her.
I loved reading her blog when she actively maintained it. She was a founder of the Episcopal Café and an active contributor until recently. I once wrote an article for the Café in which I described how, though an Episcopalian, I had a big problem with the Trinity and that my theology was much closer to that of rabbinic Judaism. She posted a comment on Facebook saying, “Someone doesn’t understand the Trinity.” That kind of irked me, but she was right. I still don’t understand the Trinity.
Ann was also a Facebook friend. She would occasionally click Like on one of my posts. I appreciated that. She loved baseball, as, of course, do I. She was a big-time Cubs fan. While still in the Bay Area I was a Giants fan, but after moving back to SoCal in 2015 I had no choice but to resurrect my loyalty to the team of my childhood, the Dodgers. There was some discussion a while back about bringing the designated hitter to the National League. Ann posted her outrage to Facebook. A FB friend replied that it wasn’t that big of a deal. And replied, “Yes it is!” I fully agreed with her.
We love you, Ann. We miss you. Rest in peace and rise in glory!
I was feeling that it was hard to stay engaged with my church, Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd here in Hemet. I have written about our rector’s retirement, about the useful and positive year we had with out interim, Fr. Rob, and about how after that year we still did not have a new rector. What we have been doing is going week-to-week. Various priests in the area who are available and who don’t have their own parish show up on Sunday morning to conduct the service. I was glad our lay leadership was seeing to that since the alternative is lay-led Morning Prayer, as we can’t have Communion without an ordained priest. Still, I was frustrated. These supply priests, as they are called, are capable and competent, but they are visitors and don’t have a personal investment in the parish.
Then we all got a surprise. Our very capable and competent communications director, Sandra, notified our Senior Warden (i.e. board president) that she had found a full-time position at a church in Tennessee. Sandra had been only part-time here.
I was then asked if I would help out by maintaining the church web site and handling the weekly e-mail newsletter. I was going to volunteer anyway so I was happy to pitch in. Added to that is the church Facebook page and monitoring the two email accounts.
This gives me a new sense of purpose at Good Shepherd and I am happy to be involved.
I’ve noticed myself really missing Fr. Rob. I miss him a great deal more than I missed Pastor Kathleen. I was impressed with his leadership and I loved his high church respect for the liturgy.
Right now at Good Shepherd we are without a rector and we don’t even have an interim. There is nothing on the immediate horizon that suggests that the role will be filled soon. I rather feel that we’re lost in the stars. I know that is not true. I know God is with us. But sometimes it feels that way.
And besides, this gives me a great excuse for sharing this marvelous rendition of that song by Wesla Whitfield.
Yesterday was Fr. Rob’s last Sunday at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church. We will miss him. At least I will miss him. But I think it’s accurate to say that we collectively will miss him.
Fr. Rob first joined us on All Saints’ Sunday 2016. He has provided us with some superb leadership. He certainly gave the profile committee on which I served some much-needed guidance. I believe he has done the same for the vestry and the search committee. He has taken a personal interest as I have been developing my web and writing business.
I haven’t agreed with him on everything. We disagree on the dating of certain books of the Bible as well as on Biblical exegesis. I don’t like his emphasis on evangelism. But I love his high church mentality and his respect for the liturgy. He brought vestments out of the sacristy that I believe had sat untouched for a number of years.
It would be good if he could stay a while longer since we have not yet found a new rector, but the mileage we have paid him to come down from Tulare means that his earnings are maxed out in the eyes of the Church Pension Fund. That, combined with the wording of his contract, means that an extension is not possible.
Fr. Rob is one of those people about whom I can honestly say:
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better,
but because I knew you, I have been changed for good.
It has been a year since Pastor Kathleen at Good Shepherd Episcopal retired. Father Rob, our interim rector, arrived on All Saints’ Sunday six weeks later.
So here we are. And where are we? Not in an optimal situation.
The congregation had not had an update on our rector search for a while, and since the work of the profile committee is long since over I had no source of inside information.
Then the most recent issue of our print church newsletter arrived by old-fashioned postal mail. The news was not good. We’d had three applicants, all of whom notified the search committee that they had accepted, or intended to accept, other positions.
Fr. Rob’s contract ends at the end of October. Would he consider extending it? I don’t know. But since he comes from Tulare, far to the north, and since his wife is facing some medical issues with respect to one leg, I wonder if he would. If he doesn’t I understand, but that would be unfortunate since he has provided us with some valuable leadership during this interim period.
So we keep on keeping on and the process continues.