Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 52 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Saturday, July 14, 2018

General Convention - Rector's Rambling for July 8, 2018

This past week The General Convention of the Episcopal Church got underway.  This is the every-three-year gathering of representatives from dioceses of the Church, as well as the bishops, to do the legislative work of the Church.  Information on the structure of the Convention can be found in the teaching notes on page 4.
The General Convention came into being because of the Revolutionary War.  After our Independence from England, what was left of the Church of England in the new nation was now without an authority structure.  No Bishops had been consecrated for the Church in the colonies, and those who desired ordination to the priesthood had to go back to England to do so.  Bishops were appointed by the King, and made decisions in counsel for the common good of the Church.  Bishops, as well as priests and deacons, in the ordination service had to acquiesce to the Articles of Religion, including an oath of allegiance to the King of England (something these new American Citizens could not do).
So the remnant of the Church of England in the United States had to figure out a way to work together for the propagation of the faith, and how the Church itself would be administered.
After much debate, a constitution and canons were adopted laying out how the governance of the Church was to take place.  The Apostolic Ministry of Bishops would continue, but the bishops would be elected at a convention of their diocese, as with the agreement of the majority of other bishops of the church and the standing committees of each diocese.
The General Convention is the every-three-year meeting to discuss mission priorities and how to fund them, as well as deal with issues confronting the Church.  This year, one big point of discussion will be the possibility of the revision of a new prayer book in the coming year (we will stick to the 1928, thank you), as well as continued discussion about human sexuality.
On paper, the idea of the General Convention seems a good way to govern a church: men and women seeking to love and glorify Jesus being elected by their local conventions to represent the needs and mind of the local church to the national body.  In reality, politics have been rife since the beginning, with people of differing churchmanship (High Church v. Low Church) pressing for the church to adopt or reject legislation to their liking.  In recent decades, people have come to General Convention to change the core doctrinal teachings of the church, and over the years, many have been eroded away by their persistence.
Pray for The Episcopal Church, that at convention the delegates may make wise decisions to the greater glory of God, not their own desires or agendas.