From The Rector…
Episcopal Revival! Those are two words you rarely hear together but if you’ve ever been to one—especially with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry—then you know what a raucous good time you can have worshipping God together with other Episcopalians.
Four years ago, at the last General Convention in 2018, I experienced my first revival. Growing up Roman Catholic and then Episcopal, revivals were not a common expression of our worship or witness to Christ. I always thought of a revival as some sort of holy roller circus show where people were “HE-ALED” and could walk again or their demons were exercised and they got “set free”. It seemed a bit hooey—to use the technical term. I didn’t trust what I understood a revival to be and wanted no part of one. The revival I went to in 2018 was nothing like that.
General Convention is the main governing body of The Episcopal Church. It meets every three years (though the pandemic has thrown the rotation off). Each diocese of the church sends eight deputies—four lay and four clergy—as well as it’s bishop(s). The deputies make up the House of Deputies and the bishops comprise the House of Bishops. Deputies are elected at Diocesan Convention whereas every bishop is automatically a member of the House of Bishops. The General Convention (GC) not only does the work of the church in discussing and voting on resolutions and actions that promote our mission and ministry, we also pray together every day of the GC. In 2018, one of those prayer services was a revival.
Imagine several thousand Episcopalians coming together to pray and sing and worship together in a big convention center. There was a praise band, storytellers, Bishop Michael Curry preached, various people prayed for the church, a whole lot of hand clapping and even more joy. It was an incredible worship experience filled with the Holy Spirit.
We had been bussed to the center from our meeting site for the revival. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by protestors from Westboro Baptist Church who were cordoned off in front of the convention center, carrying signs that were anti-female clergy and anti-gay, and shouting through bull horns. It was a bit of a chaotic scene and I was struck by the irony. Here we were, the “frozen chosen”, coming to a revival that a Baptist church was protesting. In many ways, it made the whole thing seem a bit surreal and, at the same time, an even more engaging experience.
By the time the revival ended, the protestors were nowhere to be seen. I have wondered what the point of a protest such as theirs really means. I am not sure the objective or the goal. I can’t see that the protest really accomplished anything other than strengthening the bond of the Episcopalians who came to worship together—which I am pretty sure was counter to whatever Westboro Baptist Church intended. They say God uses all things for good—the protest didn’t really add or take away anything from my revival experience other than to mark it as something important and to make me feel solidarity with those being protested against.
This Saturday, May 14, the Diocese of Alabama will have its own revival. Bishop Michael Curry will be our guest preacher—and if you think the Royal Wedding sermon was something just come hear him in person! We will sing and pray together and be filled with Holy Spirit. Every church in the diocese will be represented with their banner. Our associate, Drew+, will be one of the litanists. Pat and Scott Bamman are driving the bus up. There is still room for you! Just contact the church office this week and let us know you would like to go.
RevivAL 2022 is an opportunity for us to come and experience spiritual renewal and transformation. We probably won’t see any protestors there, but it will still be an important occasion for our diocese and the church. To learn more about RevivAL 2022, go to www.dioala.org. You can also order tickets or if you want to go in the bus, contact the church office, we still have a few tickets.
Light and Life,