Since my committee (Congregational and Diocesan Vitality) didn’t meet this morning, I admit that I started my day by hitting the snooze button a couple of times! But then it was time to jump in and get to work, and it seems that in all we do, we are held together by prayer. We began our morning with a joint session (meaning that bishops and deputies meet together) on the Care of Creation. We heard stories from South Africa, Alaska, and the Hudson River Valley about the sacredness of the land and water, of animals and wilderness. And we sang a prayer of praise and alleluia. I was deeply touched by the stories, particularly as they drew our attention to the sacredness of God’s creation. The Native American woman from Alaska emphasized that “Our children deserve to see the world as it was in the beginning,” and she spoke of “The sacred place where life begins.” As a small group, we discussed ways our diocese can respond to the call to be stewards of God’s holy creation.
Lunch was a whiz through the exhibit hall, visiting with the Association for Episcopal Deacons (who are faithfully following and endorsing issues of social justice as well as writing the prayers of the people for the liturgy and organizing the communion stations during the Eucharist) and running into friends for brief chats. This is my tenth General Convention, my eighth as a deputy, and it’s always amazed me how people from so many pieces of my life, not just now but in years gone by, all cross paths here. I also took a little time to stop by different booths, learning about the ministries that people are doing.
Then, before the afternoon legislative session, I gathered for prayer being offered by “Bishops United Against Gun Violence”. Each day for 15 minutes there is a gathering for prayer for those affected by gun violence, those killed by gun violence. Today the heartbreaking topic was children who have access to guns and accidentally shoot other children. The stories and prayers were powerful and moving.
In the afternoon session, we continued legislative work, beginning again with prayer. Our work included adopting the Evangelism Charter which tells us that “Through the spiritual practice of evangelism, we seek, name and celebrate Jesus’ loving presence in the stories of all people…” In this Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, we are called to share the story and proclaim the Good News.
Our worship at the end of the day was a Eucharist for the Care of God’s Creation, with music and prayer from Native American and Celtic sources, praying us gently into our love of God’s creation and “this fragile earth, our island home.” The young girl who sang at the beginning was the daughter of Tom Purdy, whom many in Central PA may remember as a youth in our diocese who ultimately followed a call to the priesthood. It was a lovely reminder of the faithful folk whom our diocese has nurtured in both lay and ordained ministry. I’m struck by how worship at General Convention reminds us that we can transform an empty, often cavernous space into a sacred place with our prayer and song and presence.
We ended the day with our diocesan dinner as we gathered for a relaxed evening of food and fellowship! From the hard work of convention through the fellowship of the evening, I pray that we are being faithful to God’s church, particularly our little corner of God’s church in Central Pennsylvania, and I am grateful to be held in prayer.
The Rev. Canon Kate Harrigan