Like so many of the rest of you, when I think of the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, my mind drifts back to the 1991 NBA Finals. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls v. Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers.
For several years, the great unanswered question in professional basketball had been when and whether Jordan, widely acknowledged as the best player of his time, would win his championship. Even as the Bulls tore through the league that year, questions lingered as to whether Jordan's individual brilliance, and willingness to take on the world singlehandedly, would somehow handicap his team in playoffs.
The defining moment in those finals came late in the fifth and final game of the series when Jordan drew a double team and, rather than find his way over, around or through the Lakers, passed the ball to John Paxson, perhaps the least-athletically gifted of his teammates who caught it in rhythm, and lofted the jump shot that won the game. (A moment you Bulls' fans can relive at about the four-minute mark of the forgiveably portentous video below the fold.)
In the aftermath of the Bulls' success there was abundant conversation about how Jordan's willingness to trust Phil Jackson's system had taken him to heights he couldn't scale on his own, how Scottie Pippen's emergence as a superstar helped balance the Bulls offense, and how Jordan's decision to tolerate seeing the ball in the hands of lesser players transformed "Michael and the Jordanairres" into a championship team.
And all that was true. But Michael Jordan was still Michael Jordan, and nothing that happened that season could have happened without him.
This is my own particular way of getting to a point I have wanted to make since a coalition of progressive groups helped nudge efforts to include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians fully in the life of the Episcopal Church a few significant spaces forward. There were old groups, and new groups involved in our effort. There were grant writers and grass roots organizers, film makers and media relations experts, legislative tacticians and people who simply pursued quiet conversations with people whom they knew only slightly in the hopes of changing one more mind.
Some of their contributions were glorious and all of them were necessary.
But #23 is still #23, and none of this would have happened without her.