Episcopal Life Convention Daily
Tuesday, 11 July 2000  

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Something for everyone in Exhibit Hall
BY SUSAN ERDEY

It's the best place to find friends you haven't seen for three years, and the Exhibit Hall is a metaphor for the Episcopal Church in all its diversity. From booksellers to vestment artists to advocacy groups, there's something for every interest and taste. A few booths worth visiting:

  • Hmong Folk Art, Inc. (Booth 133): Sy Vang Lo from Laos and Eagan, Minn., spent five years in a refugee camp in Thailand before she and her family were sponsored for immigration by a charity in Minneapolis-St. Paul. She's been affiliated with the Episcopal Church for 15 years, and works with her Laotian community to create the beautiful handmade, needlework items for sale at the booth. "Our people make all the needlework, but we are afraid that we will lose the traditional design, that our work is dying." Jackets take from two to six months to complete, which means that workers earn only 20-50 cents an hour. Many community members have discovered they can earn more money by farming and growing vegetables so the number of needleworkers has dwindled. The booth features embroidered stoles andvestments, jackets, pillowcases, wall hangings, purses, vests, dresses and toys.
  • Sophia, Inc. (Booth 138): A network of individuals and parishes interested in liturgical formation provides workshops, conferences and tools for innovative, participatory liturgy. Sophia consultants aren't interested in "Do you do it right?" rather, "Is your worship inviting?" Music CDs from St. Gregory of Nyssa, San Francisco, a parish that has implemented Sophia techniques, are available.
  • Gathering the NeXt Generation: (Booth 97A): This group pulls together all initiatives that evangelize the 18-35 age group known as Generation X, Generation Y, or "Millennials." What started out as a group of clergy under 35 has grown into a network of clergy and laity whowant to create anenvironmentwhere all those interested in reaching these generations will be emboldened to launch new initiatives. The booth, with its sofa andcomfy chairs, e-mail stations, andup tempomusic,provides a welcomingspace to talk and build relationships.
  • Ulster Project USA (Booth 47): Parishes in the United States sponsor groups of Irish high school students for a monthlong visit withAmerican families. Groups of teens --boys, girls, Roman Catholic, Protestant -- live with host families of like denominations. A full schedule of picnics, tours, concerts and service projects builds community and helps the teens learn to know each other as people, not as categories. More than 30 Episcopal parishes nationwide participate, but there are enough students interested in the program to double that number.
  • "íMuchas gracias! from the Diocese of Honduras" (Booth 98A) is a "thank you" to the Episcopal Church from Bishop Leo Frade and the people of the Diocese of Honduras for all of the help given in the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. Volunteers have built 250 new houses, with 250 more to go; new churches and new schools are being built; safe wells are being dug. New work teams arrive every week to continue the rebuilding. Photos displayed around the booth show the "before and after" views of the damage and the construction.
Exhibit hours are listed in the General Convention directory.

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