Good evening from soggy Austin!
It was a good day for indoor conversation and business, as thunderstorms rolled through Austin for parts of the day. With many of the elections completed yesterday, there was much more time on the floor of both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops for their respective legislative calendars. There's so much that goes into those calendars -- over 400 resolutions have to be considered, parliamentary procedure must be followed, and thanks to our bicameral system, both houses have to approve resolutions. That last part especially takes time because each house can amend resolutions, of course, which can turn into a back-and-forth parade between houses lasting several days.
We're in the midst of that parade right now for a couple important resolutions. A068, the prayer book revision resolution passed by the House of Deputies, was on the bishops' calendar this afternoon. Instead of moving into parliamentary procedure, the House of Bishops spent the vast majority of their legislative session as a committee of the whole, talking out their opinions at their tables and in front of the whole house. It was fascinating to see this group of theological heavyweights talk about the potential for a new prayer book. Would focusing on a new BCP take away from our work with evangelism, racial reconciliation, and social justice? Is now the right time given how many people on important committees will be retired by the time the book is published? Are we thinking about creating a new BCP for the right reasons? What parts of the 1979 BCP should be celebrate and retain? What does expansive language actually mean? I was grateful the bishops took the time to consider these kinds of questions, and the time spent today should be very helpful for tomorrow's session when official debate begins. That session will be one of the most anticipated of the whole General Convention.
Elsewhere, an interesting hearing was held this morning in response to an unfortunate incident a few days ago. One of the deputies from the Diocese of Colorado has an infant child who is currently nursing. The deputy tried to bring the child with her onto the floor of the House of Deputies and was denied access because of her baby. Technically, no one outside of the deputies is allowed on the floor of the house. However, when this incident was relayed to the Rev. Gay Jennings, the President of the House of Deputies, she apologized to the deputy and to the whole house for the incident unfolding as it did. The House Committee on Rules of Order considered a resolution this morning that would make it permissible for nursing and bottle-fed children to be on the floor with a parent or guardian. The hearing was attended by numerous deputies with young children, many of whom testified to its importance. My wife, Megan, sits on the committee, and Lydia and I attended the hearing to support her and the resolution. The committee unanimously recommended its adoption to the House of Deputies, and a vote on the matter will take place later in the week. Again, I'm grateful for the St. Alban's community for your welcome of young children and families -- your gracious consideration of our youngest parishioners was very much on my mind as I heard stories at this hearing about how difficult it has been for some mothers and fathers with young children to have their children with them at church or at this convention, especially around the topic of nursing.
Finally, in what turned out to be a landslide, the House of Deputies passed Resolution B012 regarding same-sex marriage. As we said earlier, the parade continues, as the resolution will now go to the House of Bishops. This resolution would allow for same-sex marriage in all dioceses of the Episcopal Church, though a dissenting bishop would have the option to invite another bishop to oversee marriages in his or her diocese. I expect more thoughtful dialogue from the House of Bishops concerning this resolution.
We're really in the thick of it now with GC79. Both houses have significant amounts of legislation left on their calendars, not to mention the budget that will try to pay for all of it. More to come tomorrow!
Grace to you and peace,