At the annual Convention held in Burlington on November1-2, the keynote speaker was The Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. The theme of the Convention was “What About Jesus?” In the business portion of the Convention, delegates approved a budget for 2013, adopted five resolutions (including resolutions about Immigrant Justice in Vermont, a new three-year program called “Stirrings of the Spirit,” and a focus on those living in poverty). The resolutions are posted in the hallway at St. Martin’s.
Here are some reflections about Convention from our delegates:
(1) by Howard Sussman
The most memorable part of Convention for me is the participation of Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina, who spoke Friday afternoon and at the Friday dinner and then preached at the Saturday Eucharist. His style is not that of the usual Episcopalian but rather closer to that of the Baptists, and the explanation for that emerged when he explained at the Friday dinner that his father’s people were Baptists and that he had spent a lot of time with them, and going to church with them, growing up.
Bishop Curry’s basic message was that we are all part of God’s family and that Jesus came to lead us to fulfill God’s dream of a world where, referring to a text from Desmond Tutu, all the ugliness of this world is changed into its glorious counterpart. Bishop Curry preached that message from Matthew’s Gospel on Friday afternoon and used the metaphor of dancing with Jesus to repeat it at his Saturday sermon.
What I found most moving, however, was Bishop Curry’s story of how his father left his Baptist tradition to become an Episcopalian. Wooing the woman who became the Bishop’s mother, an Episcopalian, his father took communion in what the Bishop called a “predominantly white” Episcopal church while his father was, as he put it, “predominantly black”. To his father’s surprise he was allowed to drink from the same cup as the whites, and his reaction to that unexpected welcome was that “I need to find out about this church” — which he did with a vengeance, becoming an Episcopal priest!
(2) by Marion Jacobus (Note #1: when there is a non-voice vote on an issue, delegates hold up either a green card (for “Yes”) or a red card (for “No”). Note #2 Bishop Ely’s annual address was framed as a “drama in four acts.”)
I was impressed by and enjoyed tremendously all parts of the Convention—the presentations by Bishop Curry, who incorporated both Tragedy and Comedy like a good Elizabethan playwright; our small group discussions; the beautiful Taize service with its music and poetry; our own Bishop, not to be outdone in Elizabethan playwrighting (formulating the business section into acts); the metaphor of Dancing throughout the Convention, so appropriate to its theme.
However, to me the most important pat of the Convention was the passing of the Resolutions—the waving of our green cards in affirmation of needed help to be given by us to the poor, to those hurt in natural disasters, and especially for the plight of immigrants. It seemed to me the our cards danced in the air with more fervor after the poignant description of the suffering of one immigrant family, in keeping with the last visual image that delegates saw before adjourning—a video of thousands of people dancing with joy in Times Square.
(3) by Jaqueline Wren
One of the things I especially enjoyed this year was hearing about the situation of immigration. This was a new issue for our Convention, In the debate about the resolution pertaining to this matter, several clergy spoke eloquently about the problems that immigrant laborers in Vermont are having, including transportation and medical care. These laborers are employed on dairy farms (especially in the northwestern part of the state) and often are not allowed to have driver’s licenses. Our Diocese has committed itself to working with the Lutheran Church (which currently has a part time clergyman working with immigrants). It was encouraging to hear people speaking about this social issue, which is so “close to home”
PINS (“Partners in Service”)
As we have done in previous years, in collaboration with other parishes that partner with PINS to serve foster children and foster families in our area, we will be preparing some holiday stockings for the children. A donation box will be in the Gathering Room for the collection of small “gender neutral” gifts for the children. The PINS holiday party is on December 5, so our gifts need to be donated no later than Sunday, December 2.
SUPER STORM SANDY
In the Sunday leaflets this month will be an insert from
Episcopal Relief and Development, which is working with Disaster Relief Coordinators in the dioceses affected by the devastating storm. Parishioners are encouraged to make donations directly to ERD for this important work.