Dear Friends in Christ,
I write to you following the close of the 77th General Convention held in Indianapolis, Indiana which concluded one week ago today on Thursday, July, 12th. This was my fourth General Convention as your bishop and I can best describe it as typical.
I was pleased to see that many deputations, including our own, contained younger members of our church both clergy and lay. The energy around a more nimble and streamlined structure was palpable as evidenced by the unanimous vote in both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops to engage the question of how best to order our common life for mission and ministry.
On a personal note, I was honored to be elected of the General Theological Seminary. I look forward to serving my alma mater, the only seminary, started by the whole Church in this way.
As was to be expected the issue that received the most attention in the press was the adoption of Resolution A049 which authorized for provisional use a liturgy and other materials related to the blessing of same-sex unions. I voted against the resolution in accordance with the position paper published on my blog site milwaukeebishop.wordpress.com. This paper was sent to the bishops of the Church and many forwarded it on to their diocese’s deputations. Still the resolution passed and the rites may be used beginning on the first Sunday of Advent with permission of the diocesan bishop.
Prior to General Convention wrote and shared with you that “I have learned, in my almost nine years as bishop, that there will be plenty of opportunity to discern how best to respond and follow through on the decisions of General Convention following General Convention, for it is only after convention that we would know what has been approved and mandated.”
We are now in that time of discernment. To that end I invite the clergy of the diocese to meet with me to begin this discernment. These meetings will again follow the Indaba format we used when we gathered before General Convention to discuss this resolution. The first of these sessions will be held at Good Shepherd, Sun Prairie on July 31st and at St. Bart’s in Pewaukee on August 9th from 3 to 5 p.m. on both dates. I realize that vacation plans may keep some from attending these first sessions. Additional sessions will be scheduled in the near future. It is my hope that every priest of the diocese will be involved in these discussions over the next few months. I also look forward to hearing from other members of our diocese in the months ahead.
In conclusion, I would like to remind you of these words from my earlier letter, “As your bishop, I am confident that we will go forward together regardless of what is or is not decided at General Convention. This ability to go forward together may in fact be our most important witness to a world which is more and more divided along economic and ideological lines. Remaining in community with each other is a crucial witness of our understanding of what it means to be the Body of Christ, even when (or maybe especially when) we disagree on certain issues.”
Let us go forward together.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Steven Andrew Miller