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ACNA'09: Without the Internet there would be no news from Bedford

ACNA'09: Without the Internet there would be no news from Bedford

By Mary Ann Mueller Special Correspondent
June 24, 2009

BEDFORD, TX---The media and bloggers descended upon North Texas and hunkered down in a St. Vincent Cathedral School science lab.

Black laboratory tables line the cloister outside the doors while microscopes along with laboratory beakers and flasks fill the back shelves. A three-dimensional skull shares storage space with a miniature dinosaur skeleton and solar system mobiles.

Tables that usually hold microscopes and textbooks now support silver, blue, black, grey and white laptop computers, along with digital cameras attached to long telephoto lenses with enough wires and cords to trip up the most nimble athlete.

Backpacks, camera bags, computer cases, tripods, and luggage line the walls and hide under tables, each awaiting their owner's to claim them at the end of the day.

It is noon. Pastor Rick Warren has just mesmerized the ACNA Assembly with his spellbinding description of the growth structure of a missional church in action that is fuelled by "a great commitment to a great commandment to the Great Commission will grow a great Communion." Reporters rush off to the pressroom with Warren's quote ringing in their ears.

There is no time to eat. The press corps only has an hour or so to grind out a story before another Assembly Session is called to order. This will be the first time the new Communion's canons come up for discussion followed by a ratifying vote.

Returning to the pressroom, every table is filled with the sights and sounds of working journalists.

Open laptop computers fill the tables as reporters busily thumb through their notes to electronically write their stories. There is an underlying buzz as the writers banter with each other, comparing notes, conducting cell phone conversations, holding hushed pressroom interviews, all the while multitasking to check on their respective online media website or weblog activity and e-mail accounts.

Intermittently, a hush descends as the journalists focus on their news stories. All that can be heard is the quiet tip tapping of the scattered laptop keyboards and the steady sound of the air conditioner. Abruptly, a cell phone jingles, chirps, or plays a familiar refrain from a Beethoven sonata or from soul stirring "The Saints Go Marching In".

Almost as on cue, the pressroom explodes in muted sound as conversations again can be heard amid the shuffling of chairs dragging across the carpeted floor indicating that the writers are hungry or thirsty and are heading for the snack table laden with cookies, chips, and fruit or the cooler filled with iced down drinks.

The emerging ACNA media relations team has done an admiral job of making the visiting reporters productive and comfortable. This is the first opportunity the new church has had to put its best foot forward to the media as it gathers to witness and report on the creation of the new Anglican province that will help change the face of Anglicanism in the new Millennium.

Knowing that the reporters are missing lunch to meet pressing deadlines, the media staff has graciously provided boxed lunches. The journalists dive into salads, hamburgers and ham sandwiches and then munch on potato chips while guzzling soft drinks, water, tea or coffee.

There is plenty of room for the writing reporters to spread out. Before the day is over, the tables are littered with ACNA/Nashotah House blue and white coffee mugs, mangled soda pop cans, half eaten cookies, empty water bottles, used Styrofoam food containers, loose papers and reporter's notebooks.

As with the clergy, delegates and visitors of the Assembly, many of the reporters have crossed paths before in covering the on-going Anglican saga. The last time some met was in Jamaica. Others last saw other colleagues in London for Lambeth Conference or in the desert sands of Egypt as GAFCON riveted the Anglican world with its formation. The Anglican press corps will meet again next week in England for the upcoming Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans meeting or at the Episcopal General Convention in Anaheim next month.

Familiar names and faces from The Living Church, the Washington Times, Anglican Mainstream, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Anglican TV, Baby Blue Café, and, of course, VirtueOnline all share the same press center as they each put their words on a computer screen to describe in their own way what happens in Bedford. The typed words eventually form stories which that will be posted on the Internet letting the world know just how God is working in Texas to raise up the new face of American Anglicanism.

There is a constant flow of journalists, reporters, photographers, and bloggers in and out of the press-room. Some are coming in to escape the 100-degree heat before heading off to another interview or photo shoot. Others are seeking the latest ACNA news release or are trading their impressions of the event. The squeak of the door signals another reporter has come or someone has gone out.

The deadline for the Rick Warren story has come and gone. Many of the reporters are back in the thick of the Assembly witnessing the ratification process of ACNA's canons. The afternoon wears on and stories start to hit the Internet describing Tuesday morning's activities. Those left in the press room access the Internet to see what their friendly competition has written. Website addresses are exchanged as reporters check out how the story from Bedford is taking shape. New faces enter the pressroom as other journalists join the growing press corps.

There is more to do. The Preliminary Assembly for the Anglican Church in North American is less than half over. There are more stories to cover, more people to interview, more copy to write and edit, more pictures to take and post and more activities to cover.

There is still the enthronement of Archbishop Robert Duncan to anticipate, plan and prepare for.

The press room door opens ...

---Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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