By Zachary Guiliano
General Convention’s opening Eucharist on Thursday morning celebrated the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist. It is usually observed on June 24, and the Rev. Gay Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, had referred to it in her opening comments to yesterday.
Planning for the Convention’s Eucharists began two years ago, with consultation between Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori; the Rev. Charlie Dupree, rector of Trinity Church in Bloomington, Indiana; the Rev. Sandy Webb, rector of Church of the Holy Communion in Memphis; and Michael Boney, director of music at Christ Church Cathedral in Indianapolis. Dupree noted that his involvement was primarily creative, while Webb organized other aspects of the service, such as arranging for lectors.
The Eucharist drew texts from the 1979 prayer book and Enriching our Worship. Hymns came from Wonder, Love, and Praise. Dupree arranged the Psalm setting, while the Alleluia verse was arranged for this Convention by the Rev. William Bradley Roberts, professor of church music at Virginia Theological Seminary.
Dupree noted that “all the cantors at Convention will be Episcopalian,” but he relied on some local artistic talent for music and artwork. Future services will include music from the jazz group Theodicy, a full concert choir, and Native American musicians.
Live translation into sign language was present throughout. The Presiding Bishop alternated between English and Spanish during the Eucharistic Prayer.
The Presiding Bishop’s sermon picked up several themes from her opening address on Wednesday, especially the theme of the Convention being on a journey in response to restructuring recommendations. “This road will be built by the bruised and imperfect body of Christ.” She identified the main issues before the convention as “marriage, mission, and structure.”
There was some ambiguity at the beginning of the sermon, when she said “God’s people” included “Episcopalians, Baptists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Nones.” Some laughter arose, as the congregation included nuns. The Rev. Scott Gunn tweeted: “Do the people who just laughed know she was talking about nones, not nuns?”
The Presiding Bishop looked toward the spot where several monks and nuns were sitting, but did not depart from her text.