Don't get too carried away. It's just Province IV Synod. Yet it's a real privilege to be here, representing the Diocese of Alabama. Here are some brief reflections on the proceedings of our gathering in case you want to know what's going on...
The first substantive presentation was an "open conversation on congregational development." Apparently, in the past, some members of Province IV have felt that the province has not done a good enough job of addressing this "important" issue. So a task force was appointed to respond to those disappointments. Unfortunately, the task force consisted of 8 people--7 men, 1 woman, 7 whites, 1 black, 4 bishops, 2 priests, and 1 lay person (the woman), and ALL 8 around the age of 60. Several people raised the issue that if we want to really address the issue of congregational development then we need a task force that looks more like the congregations we want to have and less like the congregations we already have. Despite that, I was impressed with the task force's identification of scriptural literacy as the greatest need for our church. We need to get back to the bible if we want to grow. Not bad.
The second substantive presentation was on the denominational health plan (DHP), which requires that on Jan 1, 2012, all diocese and designated diocesan institutions participate in the DHP and offer parity in plans for all employees--lay and ordained. Basically, this was a review of the policy with an interesting twist thrown it: a comparison of the premium pricing structure. We got to see how the Medical Trust, which administers the DHP, decides how much to charge each diocese for premiums. Apparently, there are some in the church who are unhappy that some diocese (like Alabama) pay lower premiums than other diocese (like Western North Carolina). They'd like to see the WHOLE Episcopal Church go to ONE premium rate. Naturally, that would be great for Western N.C. and disastrous for Alabama. Perhaps that will come up at GenCon 2012.
So far, the best part is building relationships within our diocesan deputation and building relationships with other diocese. All of that, highlighted by an ice cream social, is good, godly work in preparation for GenCon 2012. Tomorrow should be presentations on immigration, the proposed Anglican Covenant, and other fun stuff. Stay tuned.