From The Rector…
This past weekend, the Diocese of Alabama gathered for Diocesan Convention at Wonderful, Wonderful Camp McDowell. Drew, Glenn Sylvest, Margaret Hunt, Tim Marquardt, Brittney and Richard Calhoun, Andy Akin, Anne Kimzey, Ellen Brooks, and I served as your delegation from CoA. We worked hard, played, prayed, and grew over the course of the three-day convention. It was bitter cold, but that did not stop us from gathering and doing the work of the church.
The church gathers in lots of ways, and though this gathering was a governing body—passing resolutions and budgets and electing representation for the various councils and committees of the diocese—it contained the element of the divine and it was obvious the Holy Spirit was in this place. For many of us, who hadn’t seen each other in person in two years, it served almost like a family reunion and a homecoming of sorts.
As I think about the heart of my experience at Convention last weekend, the thing that keeps coming to me repeatedly is the relationships I have made over the years and how they are strengthened, nurtured, and renewed at Convention. Not too long ago, we spent our time at convention fighting about what we believed or didn’t believe. Our anger had gotten the better of us and stymied our ability to grow or even focus on the main thing. In the past few years, that has changed significantly. We may not agree with one another, but we are no longer driven by our anger and are more open to the possibilities of the Spirit at work in us.
The work of the Spirit was evidenced in our governance work, but it was even more evidenced in our gathering to pray together and to listen and learn together. The Rev. Dr. Sam Wells, Vicar of St. Martin’s in the Fields, London, met with us and shared his vision of Christian community and “being with” the church and the world. The Rev. Dr. Wells’ talks were framed in the essence of his latest work—A Future That’s Bigger Than the Past. His ideas of abundance and his framing of these times in the story of scripture were especially thought provoking and encouraging for the future of the faith. His talks as well as election results and other convention related information can be found at this link.
It is a joy and honor to get to represent Ascension at our Diocesan Convention. We are charged with and reminded of the faithful work of the church even when it takes place in legislative committees, hearings, caucus elections, and votes from the floor. We do this work in loving and caring ways. In doing this work, we have found a way to partner with God and one another to do God’s work of reconciliation for the world—to build up the kingdom. I am thankful for our delegates (listed above) and hope you might reach out to them to hear about their experience at convention.
At its core, Diocesan Convention reminds us that we are one body, one spirit. The Episcopal Church of the Ascension is not simply floating out here solo in Montgomery, Alabama. We are part of a greater network of churches, dioceses, and a communion known as the Anglican Communion. We maintain that connection by being in relationship with one another, committing to the causes we hold in kind and those we hold in particular, praying for and with one another, and the living and working out of a sacramental life together. We live into a covenant that means we give of our time and our treasure to the greater church to do greater work on a local, national, and international level. We also give to the church as a mark of our identity—the church is a gift to us and giving back to the church is one of those ways in which we give back to God. Our covenant therefore is defined not simply in words but in tangible ways.
Jesus comes to give us a new commandment—to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. That’s because this is all about relationships. We are still working those out and though we probably won’t ever get it perfect, we will keep on trying.
Light and Life,