General Convention: A Bit Like Brigadoon
Some people think General Convention is a bit like Brigadoon, a small city that appears for a day and then fades away into the mist for the next hundred years. General Convention has a shorter shelf life, but there’s something apt about the comparison. The residents gather, reconnect, love and celebrate, avoid changing anything, and then vanish into the mists.
General Convention attendees take the high road (and occasionally the low one), comingfrom across the globe – Taiwan, Alaska, Maine, Austria, Cuba, Colombia… and visitors travel in from places like Korea, South Africa, Arctic Village, Canada, South Sudan, England, Panama, Guatemala, and Ghana. We come together as the body of Christ (Episcopal branch), along with a few close relatives, interested outsiders, vendors, and shoppers. And we make common cause with the people who help to feed us, clean our rooms, and ask for help on the street.
We’ve done a number of remarkable things at this Convention, including welcoming home the Diocese of Cuba, which has been separated from us since 1966. We’ve agreed to start revising our Book of Common Prayer, while hanging on to the one we have. We’ve made marriage available wherever the priest of a congregation is willing. We’ve agreed to transform exclusionary behaviors (racism, sexism, and other sins of prejudice), and ensure that all can participate fully in their own language (Spanish, French, Creole, American Sign), working toward equal dignity in all parts of life. On Independence Day, the bishops hosted a community listening session to hear, lament, and confess the reality of sexual misconduct in the church. It has been a reminder that actually we are interdependent and the health of the whole body is a function of the right actions of each member. All of this is about what we call reconcilingjustice, and we get there by confessing our blindness and our shortcomings, and working to amend our lives with the aid of the Holy Spirit.
The Episcopal Church has a vision of its future: sharing God’s good news wherever we go; dismantling racism, sexism, and other indignities; and caring for this earthly garden God has given us. We’re going to dig deeper into this work together, learn to love our neighbors and ourselves better, and find God at work in places we hadn’t noticed or dreamed of before. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is helping us claim this vision of God’s Reign – by returning to the Jesus road, toward God’s Reign, come on earth as it is in heaven. It takes practice – and practicing our faith!
Be fearless in loving God and God’s world, look deeply for liberation and life, and get on the Jesus road. Next stop – heaven!
San Diego’s deputies to General Convention and I will be speaking widely about the General Convention’s decisions in the months ahead. I encourage you to join the conversation.