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My day started with a Legislative Committee hearing from 7:30 to 10:00 this morning. We discussed two overlapping / competing resolutions on how to make marriage rites available to all in the church. In a display of unselfish initiative, a small group from our committee (which didn't conclude our work until 9:30 pm on Thursday) stayed up and worked until 12:43 to craft an amended resolution that married (if you will) elements of both original resolutions.

This provided us a great start in our legislative work of attempting to perfect a resolution to propose to General Convention. After careful conversation and debate we completed an amended version of B012, Marriage Rites for the Whole Church, which will be taken up by the House of Deputies tomorrow morning. If adopted, marriage rites will be made more widely available to all in The Episcopal Church, regardless of gender.

Later in the morning the Bishops joined us Deputies for a Joint Session on Racial Reconciliation which included four powerful speakers and a time for our own conversation in pairs and in small groups on this important and timely topic. We didn't leave with any concrete ideas for healing the racial divide in our time, but I feel a renewed sense of both the problems we face and the promise of healing we have in God.

In the afternoon my legislative committee heard testimony on a variety of resolutions, including two that call for good translations of the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). While there are Spanish and French versions available, they are (according to our witnesses) cringeworthy and even an impediment to good worship.

We also drafted a resolution acknowledging the problems experienced on Thursday during my legislative committee hearing when materials weren't translated into Spanish in a timely manner and on-site interpretation wasn't available when needed. The resolution we've proposed offers both a mea culpa as well as a call for specific steps to avoid these issues in the future. The upshot is that all should feel welcomed and valued, and that was not true for our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters who came to testify to our committee.

Mid-afternoon the House of Deputies met for our one Legislative Session of the day. The most significant legislation considered was the first resolution that came from the committee on which I serve, a resolution calling for a process of Prayer Book revision to begin. This does not presume any particular result, just that the Church begins a clearly-defined process that, we hope, will lead to a Prayer Book better suited for the 21st century than the one we've been using for nearly 40 years.

Having said that, the resolution proposed also identifies the importance of our liturgical history and traditions in any Prayer Book considerations. I include this because there has been anxiety expressed that a revised BCP would abandon all traditional language and understanding. My expectation is that the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (charged with implementing any possible Prayer Book revision) will remember the call to stay true to our Anglican heritage. I firmly believe that any new BCP needs to offer a sacred spiritual home for as many as possible, reflecting and even expanding on the diversity of our great Church. It need not do so, however, at the cost of alienating those whose life-long love for The Episcopal Church is so firmly rooted in our beloved Prayer Book.

Debate on the Floor of the House of Deputies was impassioned on both sides. I thought we'd have a final vote before our session concluded this afternoon, but no. We will instead have another half hour for debate (and possible amendments) tomorrow morning. So, we almost had a conclusion regarding what is arguably the resolution with the most significant long-term impact. Of course, even if passed in the House of Deputies it must also be passed in the same exact form in the House of Bishops before it is binding. If the House of Bishops amends the resolution, well then we're back to work in the House of Deputies.

Turns out legislation is a careful and sometimes even tedious business!

The day concluded with evening worship, a quick dinner, and drafting a resolution for discussion at tomorrow's legislative committee meeting. And we're meeting at 7:30 am. Again.

Yet, though the days be long, they are filled with holy work and sacred moments, not least of which is connecting again with friends and colleagues from throughout the Episcopal Church. I'm also blessed to make some new friends along the way. Mostly, I'm blessed to share in the amazing environment, possibilities, and work of General Convention.
Please keep Bishop Johnson and all of the West Tennessee in your prayers as we continue our work here in Austin.

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