But for me, one of my favorite parts is the opportunity to meet people of convention on the streets, in the elevators, and in the halls of the convention center.Participants at convention are easily identified by the lanyards and name tags we all wear around our necks. It is easy to feel a connection to one another: we are all here for a common purpose and hold similar beliefs. People are always interested in where you are from and it is a form of instant fellowship.
I have had many amazing conversations and learned so many things from people I have met here at convention. One, a woman from the Diocese of Utah, told me as we stood on the corner waiting to cross the street, that the streets of Salt Lake City were laid out to be wide enough so that a team of eight oxen could make a u-turn. Another, Tony Chu from the Diocese of New York, described General Convention as “Camp for adults.”Yet another conversation was a chance reunion. On the way to the community eucharist one day, I bumped into Father John Palarine, who was the Youth Missioner for the Diocese of Central Florida when I was a kid. He and I went on a mission to Honduras during my high school years and we had not seen each other in nearly thirty years! When I was growing up in Orlando, I had the chance to participate in Happening, a weekend retreat for high school age kids. These weekends were filled with fellowship with friends old and new, music, laughter, worship, and fun. The chance to spend this time in a community of young persons, learning about Christ and the church are some of my fondest memories of my teenage years. There was a down side to all of this. When the weekend was over, I had to leave my Happening friends, and return to the real world.
At the General Convention we also share times of fellowship, music, laughter, and worship. It fills me with joy, a feeling of hope, and a sense of purpose. To me, being among the people of the General Convention seems like a small taste of the heavenly reward that awaits us on the other side of this life.
But as our work continues, there is a question that keeps nagging at me. When convention ends, how do I take what I am feeling now, the things that I have learned, and bring them back to the real world?In some ways, it is similar to the question Anthony Michael Hall’s Brian poses at the end of The Breakfast Club: What happens on Monday?
When I encounter someone at convention, it is safe. I know that I speak to someone with a common interest and a common love of Christ. In The Breakfast Club, Brian tells his new friends that he would never deny them. I hope that I have the courage to witness the joy and love of Christ that I feel here in Salt Lake City, when I return to the wider world.
Dean of St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland and Maine Deputy Ben Shambaugh is a member of the Prayerbook, Liturgy, and Music Committee. Here he talks about the work members have engaged in and resolutions coming up for a vote.
Maine Deputy Brenda Hamilton is Vice-Chair of the new Committee on Alcohol and Substance Abuse. Here she shares the work the Committee has engaged in during General Convention and resolutions slated to come up for a vote in the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops.
by Sherri Dietrich
UTO Coordinator for the Diocese of Maine
Today the General Convention worship celebrated the work of the United Thank Offering and I was one of the long line of blue-clad women (and a couple of men) who proudly processed in to the service and then across the stage to present the results of our dioceses’ UTO ingatherings from the past years. There were supporting hoots and hollers from deputies and bishops as the name of their diocese was called, but I didn’t hear any hooting from the Maine deputies. I think we should work on that for next time, and perhaps even invent a unique Maine diocesan holler—I’m thinking something like a loon’s cry or a moose call. Since the last Triennium in 2012 the United Thank Offering has gathered in and given out in grants some $4,400,000 dollars, and done the same with over $144 million in the 125 years since UTO was formed. That’s a lot of money and a lot of mission work, thanks to all of those coins dropped into Blue Boxes.
While the Deputies of the Day have been busy doing their work at General Convention I have been representing Maine at the Episcopal Church Women’s Triennium, taking place at the same time and in the same place—the gigantic Salt Palace, which I was sorry to discover is not at all made of salt. For the past few days ECW has been busy in meetings in which we changed our bylaws to conform to requirements of the IRS, announced the grant recipients for 2015, and celebrated UTO’s 125th anniversary at a dinner with Bishop Curry as our speaker. The next several days will include some more business and workshops about things from how to spread the word about UTO and get more people excited about participating in it to making and using Anglican prayer beads.
At the end of this meeting I will be joining the United Thank Offering Board as the representative for Province I, and I’m excited about the future of UTO and Maine’s part in it. In 2012 Maine’s ingathering total was $13,819.52, in 2013 our total was $10,239.22, and in 2014 the total was $8,607.80—a significant trend in the wrong direction! Be prepared to hear more about the practice of daily thankfulness and Blue Boxes soon.
by Elizabeth Ring
St. Bartholomew’s, Yarmouth
The day began with prayers, story sharing, and a march against gun violence. Heidi has put together a wonderful report with pictures and videos. If you have not seen it, do read it and watch the videos. We have some articulate, important voices leading us in the work of stemming gun violence. The video that Bishop Hayashi, himself a survivor of gun violence, released with his pastoral letter earlier this month is one of the most powerful I have seen. He tells his own story about half way through.
The morning continued with Eucharist that included the UTO ingathering. Convention worship is an extraordinary experience – colorful, musical, emotional, empowering. To sit in a room with almost as many people as there are Episcopalians in Maine takes my breath away. While the daily Eucharists are anything but low-key, the Sunday Eucharist adds processions and extra music for even more color and drama. The procession of UTO representatives, followed by the procession of Bishops, followed by the choir and the celebrant, wove through the room with great dignity. In the background were the voices of small children that added joy. Singing accompanied by organ, brass, and timpani is goose bump giving.
The Presiding Bishop used the phrase from the Gospel, “‘Talitha cum’ which means, ‘Little girl get up!’”, and the passage about the woman with the hemorrhage taking the risk to reach out and touch the hem of Jesus’ garment, to remind us that we need to risk what will happen if we reach out to touch that garment hem and that we need to get up and get out of ourselves. A powerful call on the day we witnessed against gun violence and a reminder that there is a great deal more to do. The text of the sermon is here. Bishop Katharine gives us a big nudge about our responsibility to get up, reach out, and create justice.
Each day of Convention I have bumped into at least one person that I have not seen in a long time, wonderful surprises around corners; people I have worked with in lifelong formation, ecumenism, and leadership development. I love this kind of surprise. Here are a couple of former Mainers: Deacon Jane Holmes, now in North Carolina, and Barbara Plimpton.
Our Legislative session today had moments of profundity, moments of humor, and moments of frustration – the usual mix. We completed some of our elections. Took action on a few resolutions, and welcomed the Official Youth Presence. After their two speakers completed their remarks, House President Jennings invited all the deputies who had previously been members of the OYP to come forward; it was a large group. They are a wonderful and significant proportion of the House.
My Legislative Committee – Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations – goes back to work early tomorrow morning to consider two new resolutions that have been assigned to us. We already have a few resolutions on the calendar for consideration. One on learning more about our brothers and sisters of other faiths – who they truly are, what their core beliefs espouse, and our common areas of concern as people of faith – is particularly exciting. I look forward to seeing how we can put this into action in Maine.
Between the momentous events in our country, two major Supreme Court decisions, and the positive energy around living our faith in deeper and stronger ways that is permeating the halls of Convention, we are in an awesome time. I wonder what happens next.
by the Rev. Nina Pooley
Rector of St. Bartholomew’s, Yarmouth
Saturday – it was a long, fabulous, but very strange day here at GC, and the schedule was a mess, add to that lots of celebrating, and processing… so I am just now getting to the notes. I walked into the Salt Palace today to witness the parade of bishops as they walked down the hallway to leave the building, get on the bus, and go to the church where they would prayerfully elect the next presiding bishop. It was quite a sight.
House of Deputies met to begin our session and celebrated the 230 years of the House of Deputies. To open the party the chaplain of the house, the Rev. Lester Mackenzie, had produced a really fun video.
The president of the House of Deputies had invited several distinguished former leaders of the house to celebrate with us. For me the highlight of that was being present when she presented Dr. Charles Willy with the House of Deputies medal, and the house stood and cheered for him. (Here’s a link to a video interview with Dr. Willy.)
Dr. Willy resigned as president of the House of Deputies in protest when the church invalidated the ordination of the first women ordained in the Episcopal Church, the Philadelphia 11. This man was part of the pressure that helped the church realize that we needed to ordain women. When asked to come to this party and be recognized, he was surprised. President Jennings recounted that the phone line got so quiet that she worried that the call had dropped, but then Dr. Willy told her that he didn’t think anyone remembered. Well, today we had a chance to show him that we remember. Looking around it’s amazing how many lives he helped to change, so many deputies of color, so many women clergy. How do we say thank you enough?
I just had the chance to shake his hand and thank him for his courage. And tell him that he helped change my life. It made him cry, which of course made me cry… it was quite the morning!
And that was before the representatives from the House of Bishops came to report to the House of Deputies on the election of the next Presiding Bishop. Things would get a great deal more overwhelming soon. After the committee returned with their recommendation that we accept the bishop’s nomination for the presiding bishop elect, we were called back into order – and the president of the House of Deputies told us the results of the election – and the gallery erupted with cheers.
Bishop Michael Curry had been elected on the first ballot – remarkable. The whole house started cheering, people were crying and hugging and otherwise being completely overcome…
When Presiding Bishop-Elect Curry was escorted into the house, we were chanting a song the chaplain had taught us, “we are one together, yo, yo, yo,” the most incredible moment, really.
After we finally were recessed for lunch, we returned to get some work done – our deputation had a good afternoon on the floor of the house as well.
Brenda and her committee presented resolutions around substance abuse and the need for pastoral conversation.
Mark spoke to a resolution calling us to address the implicit racial bias in the criminal justice system and the need for a multi-faceted response on our part to bring justice to the prison system.
The house passed a resolution funding anti racism programming which was overwhelmingly popular. The committee I am working on had to go before the Program, Budget and Finance Committee (which Bishop Lane co-chairs) to testify to that group about a resolution coming out of our committee for environmental stewardship, for which we are asking for funds from the budget. It was interesting to see so much of how things work in the GC process.
I am hopeful that we will be able to get our resolution into a form that the GC can approve it, I’ll let you know more when I do! Off to crash, another long day tomorrow!