Episcopal Life Convention Daily
Monday, 10 July 2000  

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And when they were gathered in one place: an estimated 10,000 Episcopalians assembled in Culligan Hall Sunday for the Convention Eucharist and U.T.O. Ingathering.    photo/DAVID SKIDMORE 

General Convention Eucharist sets Episcopalians dancing

Joined by Episcopalians from throughout the Denver area, deputies and bishops shared an enthusiastic and spectacular worship on Sunday. The Convention Festival Eucharist drew an estimated 10,000 people to fill Currigan Exhibition Hall at the Colorado Convention Center.

The processional cross, specially created for this convention, led Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, the Eucharist celebrant, and other participants to the raised altar platform in the center of the hall.

Music that ranged from choral to gospel rock had worshipers literally dancing in the aisles, especially during a spirited rendition of the South African communion hymn "Siyahamba" or "Marching in the light of God."

The lively hymn had the congregation swaying, clapping and raising their arms to the rhythms. Even the bishops joined in, presenting an incongruous sight as, garbed in the formal bright red and white rochets and chimeres, they clapped and danced to the music.

Be ready and open

In his sermon, Bishop Simon Chiwanga of the diocese of Mpwapawa in the Anglican Church of Tanzania and chair of the Anglican Consultative Council, encouraged Episcopalians to be attentive to evangelistic opportunities. His theme emerged from a story told of Oliver Cromwell during a currency shortage in England. Cromwell reportedly remedied the shortage by melting silver statues of the saints in churches and cathedrals. "Melted down for greater spiritual circulation" Chiwanga quipped. "Many Anglicans are like Arctic rivers, they are frozen at the mouth," Chiwanga said, quoting another preacher. "Why not then ask the Lord to melt us down for greater spiritual circulation?" He warned Episcopalians not to have their minds already made up about God's will for the church. "It is my prayer," he said, "that ... we will be able to listen to God for fresh vision and fresh commissioning, even when God's word to us is contrary to our expectations, to our hopes or to our desires." And like Jesus, the church should also be "freed from the need to please . . . freed from hatred and bitterness."

Youth presence felt

The 1,300 youth attending the Y2K4JC youth event in Boulder filled one section of seating, clad in white "Jesus Crew" T-shirts. The event, which started July 7 and ends July 12, includes youth from across the country and from as far away as the Ukraine, reported the Rev. Jennifer Pridmore, who brought teenagers from the Church of the Holy Comforter in Vienna, Virginia.

Rita Redford Cochrane, a Maine deputy and member of Executive Council, was particularly aware of the youth presence. "They brought a lot of energy and a lot of life to the service," she said. A delegation of bishops and deputies was scheduled to return the visit by traveling to the Boulder site after the service. A central feature of every General Convention'smain Eucharist, the United Thank Offering (UTO) Ingathering by the Episcopal Church Women offered a dramatic symbol of the power of combining small efforts. A steady stream of UTO coordinators, representingthemore than 100 dioceses of the church, presented diocesan offerings that began as the contributions of individuals in parishes across the country. The special ConventionIngathering will bedisbursed to mission projects this coming week along with the more $3 million already collected through UTO in 1999. See full story in Triennial Today.

Concluding with a Celebration of Diversity

At the close of the two-hour Eucharist, the Colorado Youth Pipe Band, affiliated with the Church of the Ascension in Denver, led worshipers to the back lawn of Currigan Hall, where cultural displays, musical performances and food booths offered a "Celebration of Diversity."

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