February 7, 2023

From the Rector…

Every year the Diocese of Alabama gathers together for a family reunion of sorts. We break bread together, grow in fellowship with one another, and do a little business. We call it Diocesan Convention—it is a council of the church. 

Councils of the church have existed since the New Testament days in which we hear about the work of the Council of Jerusalem in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Paul went in front of that council at least three times to gain support for his mission and encourage the church to broaden its theological understanding to include Gentiles (you and me) in the church as full members. While at the council, he also worked to grow relationships and worshipped together—reconnecting with old friends and fellow apostles as well as recommitting himself to the worship and piety of the church. Things haven’t changed that much in the last two thousand years. We still continue to take part on the councils of the church on an annual and triennial basis as well as at other times.

CoA sent not only Drew and I as representatives; it also sent seven other delegates: Andy Akin, Camilla Austin, Ellen Brooks, Bill Garrett, Margaret Hunt, Tim Marquardt, and Richard Norris. We heard resolutions regarding budget, a new companion diocese, and a tree planting ministry initiative. We elected clergy and lay persons to various positions in the diocese—Richard Norris was elected President of the Standing Committee and General Convention Deputy in 2024, Anne Kimzey was also elected to a General Convention Deputy in 2024. We heard talks about church growth and creative church entrepreneurship from Jason Byasee—a Methodist minister and church investigative journalist. We worshipped together in Morning and Evening Prayer and Eucharist. We heard about the various ministries and initiatives that the diocese had supported the past year—causing one of our delegation to express her pride in what it means to be Episcopalian and a part of this diocese.

That is the best part of convention—the reminder that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We partner with God and one another in the pews to do the work of CoA, and we also partner with the Diocese of Alabama as well as The Episcopal Church to do the work of kingdom building far beyond our scope and awareness. In that partnership, we come to understand that we are not an individual church with its own will and desires, but part of a great cloud of witnesses who desire something bigger than we can ask or even imagine. The work we do as a diocese and even as an international church is not only spreading the Good News—it is offering Good News in tangible ways through things like disaster relief, clean water, sustainable farming practices, building projects, and so much more. That doesn’t just happen in far off places like Africa or Asia, it happens even in our own backyard. 

When we covenant together we are making a statement that we are willing to be part of one another and as part of one another, we work together to do the work God has called us too—as a church, as a diocese, as a faith community. I am thankful for that work and I am even more thankful for being a part of a church that understands herself as part of something bigger—something that is drawing us together, not in agreement but in the work and service of the Lord. That is what Eucharist is all about—we don’t have to agree with one another, we simply have to be willing to be in relationship with one another.

Even with all the work and worship of convention, I will admit my favorite part is the relationships that are built and nourished when we spend time together removed from the hustle and bustle of the world. As a delegation, we (CoA) were intentional in being together at meals and in free time, laughing and telling stories and sharing in one another’s experiences of the church and life. It was a joy to get to serve the church, to get to serve you on this diocesan level. I encourage you to check out the “Deep Roots and New Growth” of the Diocese of Alabama either by asking one of our delegates about their experience or going on-line to www.dioala.org and watching the various videos of the convention.

Light and Life,