As the Dean noted last Friday, the Episcopal Church’s General Convention has just ended.
It is easy to romanticize the church’s councils of old. We imagine the gatherings at Nicea or Chalcedon to be deeply serious affairs, where solemn pronouncements issued from focused prayer and profound theological debate, all marked by perfect agreement and charity. Then we measure the councils of our day against those councils of old and mourn how much noisier, conflicted, or ephemeral are ours, where power struggles and partial insights mark the plodding or occasionally fiery debate in which we engage over matters that seem, at least sometimes, far less important than the church faced 1500 years ago.
The truth is that Church councils, ecumenical or otherwise, have always been boisterous affairs with perfect unanimity hard to come and debates reflecting both the sublime and the pedestrian. Somehow, through all of that, the Spirit leads the church in God’s work. So it is with the General Convention of 2018 whose decisions we will consider here in the coming days. Its hard work, holy disagreements, and decisions both small and momentous we commend to the outworking of God’s emerging reign.
The Rev. James W. Farwell, Ph.D Professor of Theology and Liturgy Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs