Ok, lots of stuff in this post.
1. Our fun church meeting on Wednesday and its results
2. Going to the LA Diocesan Convention on Friday and Saturday, and its results
3. A long-awaited decision, and ITS results. :)
1. Our church meeting(The Drinklings)
On the first Wednesday of every month, our church has a fun meeting. We call it Drinklings, which is a conflation of "Dry Inklings." It's usually just the college folk and Father David, but other people have come and had a great time too. This time, Father David brought his Roman Catholic priest friend, Eamon Gorman.
Naturally, the talk turned to ecumenism and unity. Many of the people present expressed an opinion that went something like this: "Why do we have all these differents rules for communion and stuff? We won't be doing things seperately in Heaven, so why don't we just say 'Hey, we're all Christians,' and do things together?" (I am dreadfully oversimplifying here, but that was the gist of it.)
This is not the way to achieve unity. Ignoring the very real differences that we have will not help to bring us together. Instead, the questions will continue to be brought up, and we will keep splitting over them.
Let's take a long-term view: continue to disagree, and instead of ignoring the differences, talk about them. Do hard theological work, and keep talking to everyone, from Protestants to Roman Catholics to Anglicans to Orthodox. Do we want unity? Do we want to be able to take communion at each other's churches again? YES! Emphatically, yes. That is the long-term goal, to end the scandal of the Church. But we've got to take it slow and actually answer the questions.
2. The Diocesan Convention
Father David invited a few college students to go to the convention and help run our church booth. Half the booth was for the karate ministry, but the other half was "Evangelical Anglo-Catholicism," complete with a brochure entitled "Why do FIFTY college students attend Blessed Sacrament?"
I drove up to the church around 10am on Friday to meet to go to the convention, which was in Riverside. It was fun driving up, hearing Father David tell us about past years of the convention, and what things had been like until recently.
We got there, set up the table and registered, then went out for lunch. The trip was all-expenses paid by the church, so that was really fun. :) After lunch, we went back to the convention center, and I sat down to man the table while Father David and the other two delegates (Laurel and Josh)went inside the big main hall. I think that the other delegate, Marge Avery, must already have been in there, but I'm not sure. I talked to the Avery's a little later. Anyway, I was sitting at the table, and was soon joined by my friend Emily Moothart. We had fun at the table, answering people's questions, most of which went something like: "Evangelical Anglo-Catholicism...Is that possible? Why Evangelical?" Hehehehehe. It was fun. At one point, I had gotten up for some reason that I can't remember, and Emily got to talk to someone and ended up giving him a lecture on the Trinity. :) So cool.
That night, we got checked in at the hotel (since Emily went home at night, I got a whole room to myself!), then went out to dinner. We went to Applebee's, and had a terriffic time. As soon as we got our drinks, Father David raised his glass, grinned, and gave a toast "To orthodoxy!" We all heartily toasted the faith, and had one of the best dinners I've ever had (it wasn't the food, but the company really). Afterwards, we went walking around the Mission Inn, and saw President Taft's chair, and the centennial Steinway grand piano. We walked around outside the Inn for awhile: the streets were all decorated for Christmas, and they had lots of horse-drawn carriages! We got some coffee, then took a ride on one of the carriages, and enjoyed it completely. After standing around talking a bit longer, we went back to the hotel.
I did a lot of thinking that night, about events of the past week, but that will come under the next point, about decisions.
I got up the next morning, packed up my stuff, and headed out to load it into the car. I saw Father David, who grinned, and said "How would you like to be a delegate? Marge isn't feeling well and can't return, so we've got an empty space." I think I gaped and stuttered for a minute, but happily accepted.
It was so exciting to get there, and have a real badge, and get to go inside the hall where all the real business was being done! Ok, I realize I'm starting to sound like a junior high girl at a concert, but it really was cool. I couldn't vote (Marge had taken her voting stuff home with her, and they couldn't give us replacements), but it was really enlightening to watch. I got to be there for the really interesting stuff: i.e., the decision about a message sent to three churches who have tried to leave the diocese.
These churches have put themselves under a bishop of Uganda, because of differences with the LA bishop (Bishop Bruno). This is not in line with church canons, and has caused a huge disturbance. It also leaves my church as (I believe) the only conservative parish left in the diocese.
I just realized that I don't know how much of what went on I'm supposed to report. Hmm. Ok, I guess I'll say no more than what i can find on official sites on the web.
Let me just say then, for the time being, that what I saw was both discouraging (the current state of ECUSA--Episcopal Church of the United States of America) and very encouraging (i.e., conservative ideas are no longer booed or shouted down, and reconciliation with conservative parishes is actually being attempted.)
When we broke for lunch that day, we went to eat at the Mission Inn restaurant, which was fun.
We got onto a discussion of whether or not animals have souls, which lead in the end to this conversation:
Laurel (or maybe Emily, I don't remember): Father David, do trees have souls?
Father David: Yes. Tolkien talked to them, that's good enough for me.
Hardly any business was left after lunch, and when that was concluded, they had the Eucharist. It was all very cool, and very interesting to see the larger Episcopal church. Which, for me, lead to:
3. My decision.
A couple of months back, at our Wednesday meeting, after talking about some of the problems in the Episcopal church, someone had asked, "So then why should I be a part of it?" Father David responded: "Why should you go to any church? To become a saint. To love Jesus." That really stuck with me, and I've been thinking about it a lot since then.
I was still thinking about it when we talked with Father Gorman last Wednesday, and talked about unity and not splitting the church, and again during the convention when I saw more of the Episcopal Church: the good, the bad, and the just plain strange. And it was then, seeing everything at convention, that lead me to make a firm decision.
I'm going to get confirmed.
Yes, I have decided to become an offical member of the Episcopal Church. Why?
1. To work towards unity, you've got to start from somewhere, a home to base to unite with others.
2. The Episcopal Church desperately needs good people right now. Not that I am saying that I am a good person, but I to do anything I can to help this church. Why?
3. This is my home. The whole tradition is home in a way that the Baptist tradition that I grew up with never could have been. I've been wandering in the wilderness for too long. Time to go into the Promised Land, even if there are giants.
So I'm in the confirmation class, seeking confirmation, after 4 years with this church. Why didn't I do it sooner? I wanted to, in a way, but knew that my reasons for wanting to were not right. If I had gotten confirmed earlier, I would have been trying to please Father David, or be more popular at church, or other silly reasons. But now, I've seen some of the good and the bad of this tradition, and it's still home. Even if I think, in some ways, that other traditions are healthier right now, then that should spur me on to help my church, not abandon it. You don't leave the church. Ever.
Plus, confirmation is about moving into an adult understanding of the faith. I've spent enough years being frustrated and messed up over my church experience as a kid and youth. That was largely a bad experience (the churches, not the traditions which I got at home, which were largely good), but it's time to join a church again. It's time for me to come home. So this little song has been running through my head ever since I made the decision:
I Am Resolved
I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world's delights;
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
I will hasten to him,
Hasten so glad and free,
Jesus, greatest, highest,
I will come to thee.