Driving home from Convention this year, I had the blessing of talking over the experience with one of our delegates. We both talked about our own responses to the many parts and our past experiences. It probably wasn’t equal though. Poor Michelle learned how chatty I get in the car when I’m driving!
This morning, I had a new understanding of what we just did. Like Sunday’s gospel, which could be easily misunderstood when seen as a collection of parts, was a profoundly evocative moment for a still relatively young diocese.
The theme, Abundance in the Midst of Scarcity, colored every moment. We focused on our companion relationship with Iglesia Episcopal Dominicana, and received a delegation from the Dominican Episcopal Church, including its bishop, the Rt. Rev. Julio C. Holguin, His key note address was a stirring testimony of how the Holy Spirit changed his life and how he has partnered with the Spirit to transform his diocese through mission. His call to us to take up the common cause of mission in the form of the 5 Marks of Mission was a prophetic moment that I trust will inspire us to adopt them and serve GOD fervently.
That sense of abundance, that GOD continues to bless us, despite our hardships was present throughout. The financial report was full of hope. And two of our mission groups gave inspired reports: our mission partners in Eagle Butte, South Dakota and our own Camp Chickagami. And we concluded with a packed St. Paul’s, Flint with an ordination Eucharist.
The whole convention was inspired. Yet it might be far too easy to miss what we are doing. We are used to two-day conventions. Several of our elected positions lacked the minimum number of people standing for election. The changing role of the convocations is still up in the air. Each of these pieces could easily be seen as scarcity: as symbolic of decline or weakness.
What I saw instead was a people being changed without their knowing or understanding. We are in the middle. It isn’t finished. A process that was formally introduced a year ago and couldn’t hope to be completed in one year, will continue to change the very way we interact with the diocese and other congregations. Here is where the ever-present sense of death and resurrection comes in. The very recent loss of one of our priests, Terry Parsons; our friend, The Most Reverend Patrick Cooney, Roman Catholic Bishop of Gaylord; and our bishop’s father, John Ousley was always weighing on us. All of this pain, confusion, loss was there. But it didn’t kill us. It was our witness for transformation.
Every moment of this convention spoke to this sense of abundance and transformation; this sense of mission and activity in our world; this sense of pushing on, even when it looks hard. The staff or Standing Committee could not have scripted this. It was authored by the Holy Spirit to show us the way forward; that we’re on the right track; that we are loved. That this Diocese is forming into something truly new, unique, and fully-engaged with our ministry in our region and throughout the world.