The hymn “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” describes what it felt like at the convention. Thepresence of God was very palpable! The Bishop and all of her staff and aides worked hard to make sure the convention moved along smoothly. Everything seemed to be well coordinated.
The first section of the meeting had discussion groups made up of representatives of all of the churches participating in the convention. Each attendee was assigneda specific table and group. That allowed the delegates an opportunity to mix and learn more about what other churches in the diocese are doing in areas such as outreach. There are many interesting and wonderful things being done to serve shut ins and others in need.
The main speaker from Forward Day By Day, Steve Gunn, was fantastic! He encouraged us to study the Bible, learn about faith and go out and be disciples. He especially stressed studying the Bible. That is the base of our faith. The Canon to the Ordinary gave a very moving sermon. It too was focused on us being disciples and going out to spread God’s Word to the people by words and actions. It was so uplifting and brilliant that all of the attendees stood up and applauded.
There were many opportunities to mix with other “disciples” and learn from each other. It was a good experience. Bishop Reddall presented an excellent first convention!
This was my first convention. The two days were comprised of the spiritual, the motivational, the self affirming, business and for me a sense of pride in the Episcopal church and our diocese.
The three speaker, not only had thought provoking messages; but also were gifted public speakers and charismatic leaders. The table discussions, where we were grouped with convention goers from other congregations, were well organized and productive. Interesting ideas on how our diverse parishes implemented the theme of Walking with Jesus were discussed. The resolutions passed on the church’s relationship to the Native people of Arizona are closely aligned with our Chile Garden and its work with Native agriculture. The other resolution on establishing a designated day for gifts to Camp Genesis also has a tie to Transfiguration as the funds from our book ministry are designated for scholarships to Camp Genesis.I was impressed with the exhibits because I found people and organizations there that share my social justice passions and with whom I will connect in the future.
The direction of he diocese as articulated by Bishop Reddall made me proud to be a part of the Episcopal Community. The themes for the next three conventions Caring for God’s Creation, Evangelism, and Systemic Racism should be exciting. I encourage those of you who have never been to a convention to consider running as a delegate in the future.
The convention theme, Walk in Love, was certainly evident throughout the event: from resolutions for acknowledging how Native Americans have been treated and for recognizing them with prayer to the wonderful enthusiasm shown for two missions as they achieved parish status. I was impressed by the diversity of the diocese including Navajo, Hispanic, and Sudanese, and many female clergy. During our round table discussions I heard of many diverse outreach programs from churches of all sizes. For resolutions and canon changes all comments and discussions were positive. I was pleased to see how harmonious this group was.
Our new bishop, Jennifer Reddall, is very enthusiastic in leading a meeting and keeping things moving along, and she is bi-lingual speaking both English and Spanish.
But, I was most impressed with the Eucharist on Saturday morning. In a ballroom full of hundreds of people and with two large screens so that we could follow the service it was very impressive. Canon Anita Braden delivered an entertaining and moving sermon. We had prayers and music in Navajo Dine, Sudanese, Spanish, and English. With recorded music and hundreds of voices it was a great way to start our day.
I was blessed with the opportunity to experience this event.
Two workshops were held: Canons, Resolutions & Budget and Candidates Forum. Since I didn’t have a lot of notice, I wanted more info on voting items. I’m glad I went because there was not much discussion on the floor at the time of approval.
Basically, the discussions of Canons and Resolutions mirrored the material in the Episcopalian. A change to Canon 3 redefined the composition of the Standing Committee to take Deacons off the Lay side and put them in the Clergy side. This would allow for more Lay representation. Article 5 changed the description “priestly” ministry to ‘regular” ministry to clarify the previous canon change regarding Deacons. Both changes would put our Diocese more in line with the national church as well as other dioceses. Resolutions covered: Acknowledging and Praying for the People of the Land (per Native American Program Group) with an appendix suggesting prayers to be added to the standard forms in the prayer book, Camp Genesis Sunday on the 3rd Sunday in September, and Creating a task force on Parental Leave to apply to Diocesan Employees.
The Budget discussion was more interesting in that there was a major change in the line item regarding the Bishop’s compensation. Since we are dealing with two bishops this year, this item now reflects compensation only for Bishop Reddall. Also, 2 positions were added for Border Ministry and Creation Care. There was no longer a need for transition expenses so this was cut. I don’t remember details of other items enough to comment. This budget is balanced. We were also told that as of the Convention that Diocesan revenue is ahead of last year’s budget. After this session I got carried away in the exhibit hall so didn’t make it to the Candidate Forum.
Friday Business Meeting including Keynote and small group discussions.
Our speaker was the Rev. Scott Gunn, executive director of the Forward Movement who gave an excellent speech which covered: stages of spiritual growth, catalysts for this growth, and creating a culture of discipleship. He has another claim to fame as co-founder of Lent Madness in the Spring on Facebook. Every year a collection of saints and other notables are put together from Holy Women, Holy Men, the more obscure the better. Two candidates are voted on every day, with the winner announced at the end of Lent. I’ve tried to play but tend to fall behind after a few days because I don’t always see the posts (got to fix my feed I guess).
Table discussions: All attendees including visitors were assigned to groups of 8-10 people per table, with everyone from a different parish. Each table had a moderator who presented us with a set of questions (most of whom I don’t’ remember). The person who started each question would then pick the next person to speak until everyone had a chance to answer. First we introduced ourselves by name, parish, role, and principal languages used. One member of my table was from St Mark’s, another was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan whose language was Dinka. Others were from all over the state, mostly the Tucson area. We were asked to categorize our parish by environment. I said that Transfig was an ex-urb parish, more urban than rural, but otherwise just a “bedroom” community. We were asked what our parish did to reach out to the general community. I mentioned “A million meals for our neighbors” as well as the Chile farm and suggested that the attendees visit Bill’s booth in the exhibit hall. I wasn’t the only delegate to promote the Chile Farm. Bill said he was inundated after the discussions were over.
Saturday Eucharist and business meeting
The Eucharist was excellent; I was very impressed by the “preacher” our Canon to the Ordinary, the Rev. Canon Anita Braden, whose style could only be described as interactive, a style I really haven’t experienced in my own church experience.
Afterwards, the business meeting was started, very standard, except that Bishop Reddall really kept it moving. For voting items, we were given colored cards to vote yea or nay, much more clear than just raising hands. There was not much discussion on the items which had been covered in the pre-convention workshops, also saving a lot of time. All the changes, the resolutions and the budget were passed speedily. For the elections, a number of candidates were nominated from the floor because of the Standing Committee changes. Nominations were also made to the next General Convention. We voted, finished the morning business and went out to the patio for a sack lunch. We covered a few more business items after lunch and received the election results. Just a few more items, then we were dismissed. The next convention will be held at a nice resort outside of Tucson. Don’t remember the name.
I think the only rough patch was when Bishop Reddall was trying to get our attention, and I say this with amusement, no disrespect intended. At one point, she even tried a loud wolf whistle. In this diocese, the standard “The Lord be with you” works the best.
In conclusion, it was a wonderful experience, given that the socializing was the highlight. I know that this is one reason I go. Very tiring tho.
Last modified on Monday, 11 November 2019 18:03
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