Friday, July 6, 2012

General Convention blog post from Mark Laubach

First two days of GC 2012 Indianapolis Given that I'm not serving on a legislative committee here at GC 2012, my schedule is considerably more free, allowing me some time to post to this blog. I'm happy to share my impressions of yesterday and today (so far). Even though I've been to GC before (2003 in Minneapolis and 2009 in Anaheim), the uniqueness of this gathering still strikes me! As I was walking through the exhibit hall yesterday after getting my certification as a lay deputy, I was struck by the incredible variety of exhibits and exhibitors, as well as the all the bishops, clergy, laity, and visitors walking about, shopping and schmoozing. The image that came to mind was something like "Six Flags Over Canterbury" ... or perhaps more aptly, "Six Flags Over 815"! It's really quite fascinating! My two checked bags did not arrive with me at the Indianapolis airport Tuesday night (about 10:30 PM). But happily, they were delivered to my hotel room by 1:30 AM. Obviously, that made for a late night. But fortunately, my Wednesday morning schedule was quite open, which allowed me to sleep in a bit. Our first scheduled event Wednesday was the 2 PM opening gathering of the Bishops and Deputies (clergy and lay) in the House of Deputies (HOD) hall. We heard opening addresses from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the President of the HOD, Canon Bonnie Anderson, DD. We also got to experience one of many wild sport jackets worn by the Secretary of the HOD and of GC, the Rev'd Canon Dr. Gregory Straub. Rev'd Canon Gregory Straub's July 4 Sportjacket
Canon Straub is known for his colorful jackets, a different one worn each day! (Today was plaid.) Then followed separate orientation sessions for both the House of Bishops (HOB) and HOD. After a hot walk (100 degrees plus here!) to a drug store, I returned to my room. At 7:30 PM, I attended a screening of two deeply inspiring movies, Out of the Box and Love Free or Die, presented by Integrity. Out of the Box is "a new, groundbreaking documentary about transgender persons of faith and their contributions to The Episcopal Church." Love Free or Die (a play on the state motto of New Hampshire) is "a new film about the life and ministry of Bishop Gene Robinson, including the struggles of TEC upon his election as bishop." Following the two films was a panel discussion that included four of the people featured in Out of the Box and Bishop Gene. I was deeply moved by both films and by the stories that were told in them. I HIGHLY recommend them to you! Out of the Box is easily available through Integrity (I was given a DVD of it), and Bishop Gene told us that one can visit and request a copy for a public screening. I'm hoping we can do this sometime soon in Wilkes-Barre. I was thrilled to meet Bishop Gene once again. My first GC in 2003 was the momentous year when we consented to his election as Bishop of New Hampshire. I was amazed, through that stressful time, by +Gene's incredible determination, reverence, poise, humility, and graciousness at a time when he was dealing with death threats and all kinds of baseless accusations, all before press people from around the world. His witness continues to inspire me, and I was deeply honored to have this picture taken with him.
Bishop Gene Robinson with me at General Convention 2012 in Indianapolis This morning began bright and early (well, maybe early!) with a legislative session at 8:00 AM. Those who know me well know that I am most definitely NOT a morning person, so this was something of a sacrificial act! This first session was essentially a pro forma organizational session. With this completed, we moved to the grand ballroom in the hotel (JW Marriott) for our Opening Eucharist, with the PB as Celebrant and Preacher. To my great delight, the music was led by another one of my heroes, Dr. Marilyn Keiser, recently retired professor of organ at Indiana University in Bloomington, a gentlelady, a brilliant organist and church musician, and one of the true icons of our sacred music profession! Marilyn's fine parish choir from Trinity Church in Bloomington led the singing, and Marilyn, at the mighty Rodgers, was joined by a fine brass quartet. The music was beautifully chosen and performed, and the whole liturgy was elegant and inspiring. This was a great relief for me, particularly after the disappointments I had regarding the liturgies of the 2009 GC in Anaheim CA. After the final organ voluntary, Canon Anne Kitch and I went to greet the musicians, including Marilyn and my good friends Dana Marsh and Michael Messina, who are also involved in the music for this Convention. Dana, Michael, and I are all graduates of the Eastman School of Music of the U. of Rochester. Dana is now the organist & choirmaster at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis, and Michael is organist & choirmaster of Trinity Church, Indianapolis. Both are brilliant musicians and great guys. It was so good to see them both, and I look forward to catching up with them and hearing their handiwork while I'm here! (An interesting aside, proving what a small world we live in ... Michael was the organist for Anne Kitch's wedding; they too are dear friends from even more years than I've known Michael.) At the moment, legislative committees are meeting, but I have time now to post here. Our next legislative session is from 4:30 to 6:30 this afternoon, and there are more committee hearings before and after that session. My dear colleagues in the Bethlehem Deputation who serve on committees have precious little time for blogging, so I feel a special obligation to write whenever I'm able. I'll be sharing more as the days progress. I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who have supported my presence here. I covet your prayers. It is a great privilege to be here, and to share this ministry with Bishop Paul, our two representatives to the ECW Triennial, and all my fellow deputies from the Diocese of Bethlehem. Please continue to pray for us all. Warmly yours (truly!) ... Canon Mark Laubach to follow all the deputies posts from the Diocese of Bethlehem:

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