Executive Branch Meets Family Reunion

General Convention (GC) is a swirl of energy and emotions. The deputies and bishops of TEC (The Episcopal Church) gather every three years because we love our church and feel passionately about the work we can accomplish. Episcopalians arrive at GC with strong opinions and convictions, eager to voice them in committee meetings, on the floor of the Houses, over lunch, in the halls, and over drinks. No one can ever say that Episcopalians are all shrinking violets.

Last night and today I attended different committee hearings. Much like at diocesan council, the proposed resolutions are discussed, approved or dismissed, and amended by the committees of GC. Committee members often start their work before 7:30 a.m. and may stay up past midnight. During the hearings, deputies and bishops may sign up at the opening of the hearing to testify to resolutions being considered by the committee whose hearing they are attending. The committees then take that testimony into consideration during their deliberations.

I have learned much by sitting in on these hearings and subsequent committee meetings. Some are informative about the GC legislative process, especially for this first-time deputy. Even more so, these hearings also can be engaging to watch. People come forward to share opinions but also share the stories that inform their decisions. These are often moving stories of faith lived out and sometimes of faith inhibited.

I also have delighted in the family reunion feel to GC. In just a few days I have run into friends and colleagues from seminary and every diocese in which I have served. It has been years since I have seen some of these wonderful Episcopalians and it has been a special treat to have hugs and conversations with them.

Over lunch and dinner and between sessions there has been time to deepen new relationships as well. Yesterday at dinner I was able to hear more of the life story of one of our diocesan alternate deputies. She recently traveled to Ghana on pilgrimage and her perspective as an African American who grew up in segregated Mississippi was invaluable.

After dinner we happened upon a friend of hers, and an Episcopal legend, the Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris. It was an honor to meet this lion of an Episcopalian. She was the first woman to be elected a bishop in TEC. She is 88-years-old and this is her 19th consecutive GC. I have looked up to her throughout my vocation and I am grateful for the opportunity GC afforded me to meet her.