Saturday, August 2, 2008
Well …Convocation is over and we are safely home! Today I am struggling with a bit of headache, surely from generously sampling a new spirit while in conversation with CEC clergy boys last night. I should have known better but felt exceptionally brave, maybe from the excitement of the occasion.......lesson learned!
It was a wonderful couple of days of worship , conversation with old friends and making new acquaintances. Our departure from the CEC for ECUSA seemed common knowledge, yet we were treated with great cordiality. I hoped and expected no less…we are, after all.... family!
The Convocation began with the enthronement service Wednesday. The CEC was at worship in all its convergence glory featuring colorful banners, processions, flags, wonderful music, dynamic worship, the Gospel read in multiple languages and, of course, clouds and clouds of incense. The entrance procession seemed endless with the deacons and priests and the bishops all decked out in red… a sight to see! It was services like these that attracted many of us initially to this expression of the Church, and even the annoying feedback from the sound system, did not detract from truly beautiful celebrations.
The events were energetic, joyful with a focus on the present and future of the CEC. The crises of the last years seemed passed and, although acknowledged in passing by +Bates, the focus was on mission and ministry. There was much positive to be seen; young people who seemed inspired in the worship, younger clergy obviously excited about God and the church, an international presence from the Philippines, Africa , Brazil and a definite mellowing in the language as it refers to the CEC’s place in Christendom.
The star of the show, for me was Olivia Jones! After what seemed to be a losing battle with illness and great suffering, her smiling face, her health improved beyond odds, reminded us all of the power of faith! We sung Happy Birthday to his wonderful woman of God, as +Bates reminded us of the CEC’s own difficult last years and recovery. As the services ended, there seemed to be enough talent, gifting and conviction in the place to allow for hope as to the CEC’s future.
Yet, for both of us attending the services some concerns remain. The absence of +Randolph Adler, the CEC’s founder and first Patriarch,certainly was felt and the subject of uncertainty and question. The CEC remains committed to Government by Consensus, male headship, and despite a softening on the language from its bishops, seems to remain on a very conservative bent. The Liturgy is definitely evolving most notably the new version of the Creed, minus the filioque, and a couple of innovations borrowed from the Roman Rite which, to a fan of the BCP, did not seem to flow well.
I am so glad we had the opportunity to attend, to worship with this family in Christ, to rejoice with them even as they look forward to a future full of hope. As to regrets …happily I have none! Even as I rejoice in the joy the CEC expressed in its Convocation in Orlando, I am more excited than ever to be in the Episcopal Church.