It’s been a little over a week now that I’ve returned from almost two weeks in Austin, Texas where the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church was held. This triennial gathering is how The Episcopal Church determines its budget and way forward in living out the mission of the Church (to reconcile all to God in Christ). If you’re an Episcopalian, you know what I’m talking about (hopefully).
It was a convention in which we put our faith into action; there was lots of energy around social justice. And while in Austin, Episcopalians practiced what we preach. In any case, these are my top ten “take aways” from the fifth General Convention that I have attended. I’ll be posting more (with resources) about each in the coming week – check back here!
- Presiding Bishop Michael Curry doesn’t disappoint. And having Dinorah at his side to provide instant translation while he preaches is a dance worth watching. Watch his sermon here at Saturday night’s revival. Yes – the Episcopal Church held a revival – standing, singing, praying in a huge venue with a band. It’s long – but worth a listen.
- Much of convention was focused on The Jesus Movement. And the approved budget (as well as the actions and testimony of many) showed that we are serious about moving out into our neighborhoods to live out the Gospel.
- We have been called to follow the Way of Love: Practicing a Jesus-Centered Life by following a “rule of life” that involves Turn + Learn + Pray + Worship + Bless + Go + Rest.
- Bishops United Against Gun Violence offered a public witness with speakers including Phil and April Schentrup whose daughter, Carmen, was killed in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas on Ash Wednesday of 2018. Carmen had been an active member of her Episcopal Church’s youth group.
- Then over 1,000 individuals boarded buses to travel 30+ miles to offer prayers, song, and witness to the women being held at the Hutto Detention Center by the Federal government, separated from their children. It was a powerful morning in the Texas heat to give witness to the gospel and speak for those who have no voices.
- The #MeToo movement was present in worship as well as legislation. A Liturgy of Lament was offered in which bishops read stories of individuals who had been harmed by the Church. The House of Bishops adopted a covenant that commits them to seek changes in their dioceses to combat abuse, harassment, and exploitation.
- We are a prayer book people, but we seek to embrace language that is more expansive, not just inclusive.
- We seek to grow loving, liberating, life-giving relationships with God. There was a Jesus Genius Bar in which people could share their stories. Evangelism!
- We seek to grow relationships with each other (reconciliation). Catherine Meeks of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta was one of the speakers.
- We are called to care for creation. Besides having focused speakers and time for engagement, 19 resolutions were related to how we care for planet earth. Any many apply to us individually as well as our congregations, such as no more using bottled water! Take note!