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|This page last updated 13 July 2003|
I'm Doing During General Convention
The triennial General Convention of the Episcopal Church (in the United States) will begin its meeting later this month. Several people have said to me, "see you in Minneapolis," expecting me to be at the meeting. I have to correct them: I'm not a deputy of the Convention, and I won't be there as a visitor either. However enjoyable it might be to gather with the Convention, participate in splendid liturgy, and pray, listen, and learn for the spread of the Kingdom of God, I'm not going to be there.
I could scrape together the air fare, and I could probably find a floor or couch to sleep on, which is all I'd need. I'm a graduate student, which means that my summer is mostly free, and so I could manage getting the time away a lot more easily than many. Not being a deputy, it would be more fun and less stressful since I could go to what meetings I pleased, and take an afternoon off whenever I wanted. I could even get away with sleeping in!
But not only will I not be attending, I won't even be reading about it. The Convention will do its work without my eager slurping of news from every information channel. This Convention is fraught with so many important and urgent issues that the temptation is extreme to want to know every little detail, minute by minute if possible. And modern electronic journalism makes it quite possible this time. Instead, I will be backpacking. It's a church trip sponsored by the diocesan campground; ten days in the High Sierra of California. I'm sure I will have an exhausted sleep just like that which the bishops and deputies will enjoy. Like what they do, it will be hard work. It will also be enjoyable, and filled with time shared together with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The focus of the trip, in the words of the organizers, is on "developing Christian community in a wilderness setting". I can think of nothing better to be doing during those days.
I'll be praying every day for the work of the Convention. But I know myself well enough to know that if I am plugged in to a computer I would be filled with an extra level of needless anxiety about those issues dearest to my heart. That anxiety does neither me nor the Church any good. Instead of my usual gluttonous devouring of information from every source, I'll be taking a fast. It's a happy accident: I didn't plan the dates of the trip, which I planned on before I noticed it was the same week as General Convention. I have no idea if the campground planned it with that in mind or not. Perhaps it is providence at work. But I am glad for it. I recommend to all of you the same. I know the church journalists will all be upset with me. They do such wonderful work, and I depend on their rapid and superb reporting. But this time, I'm going to wait until it's all over. I'll be able to pray better for the Convention, and I will be able to focus more on the Kingdom of God and less on my own favorite issues of ecclesiastical politics.
Whatever you do, take that week and make it a time to pray for the Convention. They need it and the Church needs it. If that means paying a little less attention to the details of the news, then hold back in a sort of information fast, so that your prayer may be all the more fervent. If you're at all like me, you'll need it.
Brother Thomas welcomes comments or questions about this article. You can write to him at email@example.com