Conventional WisdomPosted: November 8, 2010
Having recently attended the 225 Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, I’ve been reflecting on ways to make Diocesan Convention more user-friendly. This was the 10th convention I’ve attended as a priest encompassing three dioceses and many hours of ennui. I humbly offer the following suggestions to make convention a more pleasant experience:
1. Never hold the convention more than a 15 minute drive from any parish in the diocese. Sure, this will take some bending of the conventional constraints of time and space but the Episcopal Church has a chaplaincy at MIT. They can take some time away from creating a solar laptop to solve this.
2. Diocesan assessments should be linked to the length of time the parish’s rector blabs into the microphone. If Father Mind-be-Numb feels the need to blather endlessly about a doomed resolution that’s fine. But it’ll cost him. I’d recommend adding $1,000 per minute to his parish assessment.
3. I understand that budget constraints may force dioceses to hold their conventions inside large, drafty churches. However, I must insist that the pews be equipped with cup holders and electric blankets. It’s the humane thing to do.
4. If it takes more than three ballots to fill a diocesan post, just flip a coin. No one remembers who serves on the Ecclesiastical Court anyway.
5. If the diocesan treasurer must use a lengthy power point presentation to go line-by-line through the budget, it’s only fair to equip the convention hall with wi-fi. How else can you expect to update your Facebook status by complaining about the insufferable budget presentation?
6. Smartphones are the new knitting. Get over it.
7. Here’s a resolution worth passing: “Be it resolved that from henceforth hand motions of any kind during diocesan liturgies will banned.” Although it’s fun to watch the obvious discomfort of diocesan bishops trying to be good sports as they point to the sky and stand on one leg at the appointed moment during the Prayers of the People, this shouldn’t be allowed in the first place.
8. It would be best to cut an extraneous diocesan staff position in order to serve good coffee to clergy and lay delegates. The ministry that is lost would more than be made up for in alertness. At least for a day or two.
9. Note to nominees for diocesan offices: If you don’t mention God in some way, shape, or form in your paragraph about why you want to serve on Diocesan Council, General Convention, etc, you will not get my vote. And I’m a diocesan power broker.
10. If you insist on sucking up to the bishop during breaks, please be less obvious. Fawning over a purple shirt is unseemly.
Thank you for your cooperation in helping to make diocesan convention more bearable and enjoyable for all concerned. I’ll look forward to these changes being implemented throughout the country in 2011.