Delegates, alternates and bishops from across the Episcopal Church are here in Austin in General Convention. It happens every three years, and this is my first time here. It’s “the house gathered,” with politics, caucuses and all the trappings of the political tradition of the United States, but there’s more. There’s a sense that this is not just legislation being negotiated. Our Presiding Bishop challenged us yesterday in the opening worship to be about God’s work, which is walking in the way of sacrificial love.
I was in a hearing yesterday about racial reconciliation and the need for anti-racism training in our church. My take on this issue is that it runs inextricably into the issue of multicultural ministry: how to be the Church with folks who think and talk and pray differently than myself. There were the “bombshells,” to be sure, private agendas foisted over as public debate, but there was also carefully considered, well formulated and often highly educated arguments made. It was a way for a committee to try to “hear the heart of the church,” so to speak, before deliberating on the legislative floor and taking a vote. It is heartening to me to see that reactivity is being restrained, and we are trying to hear one another.
I spend most of my time in the exhibition hall with our booth for Borderland Ministries. The Border Ministry Summit we are hosting in November is giving me reason to walk around and visit with folks. I’ve made some new friends, renewed old friendships and discovered some new possibilities for partnerships in ministry. I almost feel that this is where the real “work” of organizing for ministry happens. They can vote on what they vote on—and it will be binding legislation for the Church, but we are putting organic feet on ways to do ministry, and that is exciting.
The energy in the air is pretty much always at an exhausting pitch. I almost feel like “I’ve been here, done this, time to go home already,” but there are five more days of this for me, with some exciting moments yet to come. I haven’t spoken with a lot of people yet, and I still hope to tag up with the delegation from my home diocese, Central Ecuador. I’m sure that next Wednesday when I head off to Honduras I’m going to be really ready of a break. The day of travel will provide that for me.
So, yes, it’s tiring, but getting together always makes us stronger. In the end it’s worth it, and that’s why we keep doing it. It’s energizing to see my church so hard at work doing important things.