I’m attending my fifth General Convention, this time in Salt Lake City where we are being hosted by the Diocese of Utah. (This is the smallest diocese, in terms of membership, to ever host a General Convention, and it looks like it’s going to be one of the very best ever.)
I’ve been a deputy (elected as priest) to four conventions. This is my first as a bishop. The experience is largely similar: long distance walks, lots of happy reunions, frustrating and joyous work and worship. Some things are a little different. The life of the House of Bishops, being smaller and meeting more frequently and with less turnover, is different than the life of the House of Deputies. The bishops know each other well, often having eaten together and prayed together off and on for years. There’s an economy to our conversation, and a lot of catching up since we saw each other last a few months ago on retreat in Kanuga. But this is catching up with a purpose – conversations run to the “what committee are you serving on?” and “what are the issues you’re following this convention?” as much are they are the standard “How’s the diocese doing?” or “How’s your family?”.
Today we registered, received our iPad virtual binders and had our first sets of meetings. I’m just back from the organizing meeting of Legislative Committee 10, Evangelism and Communications. It’s the first time these two sets have been combined and it makes a great deal of sense in my mind. I became interested in communications primary in as much as it allows us to share the Gospel as widely and as cost-effectively as possible. I became interested in the Internet and its associated technologies in particular because of the possibilities that it presented for evangelism. (That’s been a mixed bag on the whole, but the Internet is young and is still well in its adolescence. We know not yet what it shall be…)
The folks on the parallel committee (of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops) all share that passion. It was evident as we went around the room and introduced ourselves. Some folks had been journalists and syndicated columnists all their professional lives. Some of us were technology folks. One or two were commission evangelists. We all want to do what the Missionary Society (the real name of the Episcopal Church) is called to do better and more effectively. And we want to see what General Convention will do to make that possible.
Pray for us? There are lots of other ways that this Convention will likely make news in church circles, but in terms of real and lasting impact, learning to share the Gospel more effectively and to bring more people into a living and transformed life in relationship with Jesus is the truly important work we’ll be doing. God grant us wisdom, courage and daring to accomplish this, or at least begin this work in the next two weeks.
(PS: I’m hoping to keep my previous discipline of regularly blogging from General Convention. We’ll see how well I manage. It might not be every day, but I’ll try to post regularly.)