Dear friends in Christ,
Tomorrow I leave for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Originally scheduled for the summer of 2021, the pandemic has forced us first to postpone and now to shorten and simplify the convention. Instead of the usual two-week gathering of voting deputies, bishops, exhibitors, youth, young adults, Episcopal Church Women, and visitors, we are limited to four days of just those who will be deliberating on legislation for our church.
The General Convention is a sometimes unwieldy but truly lovely part of our church. It’s not hard to criticize its excess, but it’s also important to recognize what it shows us about our church. At this gathering, lay people, bishops, priests, and deacons all work together to deliberate. Our church involves lay people at all levels of governance. The gathering will be live streamed for all to watch, and you will witness the careful procedure that is followed to protect the democratic nature of the work.
You can follow along online at the General Convention media hub, and if you’re bored, you can read some of the 412 resolutions that will be considered. But more than that, I hope you will pray for this gathering. Deputies and bishops will be voting on resolutions concerning racial healing and justice, our liturgies, discipleship and evangelism, and many other matters. Pray that we have the courage to follow the Spirit’s will in all things. Pray that we know God’s grace in our lives and in our beloved church.
And those of us who are gathered will need grace of other kinds, too. The necessary precautions to keep us safe during the pandemic are sensible, but they will be challenging. Many of our usual patterns have been upended, as we all have to learn new ways of doing things. Some of what is planned will doubtless unfold in ways that were not planned. We’ll need grace to forgive, to laugh, to apologize, and to be open to new ways.
Isn’t that like the whole church though? General Convention is, in many ways, a microcosm for all our churches, big and small. So much has been disrupted by two years of the pandemic. We grieve those who have died and all the things we have lost. And yet there is also a blessing in disruption. We are necessarily focused on what is most important. We are knocked out of our complacency. We are forced to consider how the church of 2022 can bear the Good News of Jesus Christ in a world that desperately needs to know God’s grace and mercy.
Pray for those who gather in Baltimore.
Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel in the General Convention for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
If you’re going to be there, please say hello. You can find me during legislative sessions in the House of Deputies or outside when the convention is on break.
P.S. Forward Movement doesn’t have a booth in the exhibit hall this time, but we’re still offering a discount for General Convention shopping. You can use code GC2022 on our website or for phone orders to save 10% throughout the month of July.
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