This is what the man who would meet me each day at a breakfast place in Salt Lake City actually asked me yesterday. “Are you all ever going to leave?” I had to wonder the same thing! I am home now and so glad of it. While the 78th General Convention was an historic one in so many respects, it, like most is not celebrated by all. We always have to remember this. What was remarkable to me was the very gracious way this one was carried out. Yes, there were tense moments. Yes, not all agreed, but in that disagreement what I experienced, like no other time, was a grace and a deep desire to make all feel that there contribution and participation was important, and that above all, our identity as members of the Body of Christ was first and foremost and not debatable.
We did some important and historical things:
We elected overwhelmingly the first African-American Presiding Bishop in Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina. He is absolutely the right one for this time in our church. Bishop Curry asked that the House of Bishops do something it has not done in the past, elect two Vice-Presidents. We agreed and the current Vice President, Dean Wolfe of Kansas was re-elected and Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real was elected as well.
Being present at the Convention when the Supreme Court ruled on marriage equality was a surreal moment, and our convention moved the Episcopal Church to marriage equality as well, and refined and expanded the liturgical offerings around this.
We made strides toward structural reform, including lowering the assessment over this next three years, reaching 15% in that time, down from 19%. We celebrated the ministry of the first woman Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefforts-Schori. She has done an amazing job in this last nine years. Here we are giving her a long, boisterous standing ovation.
And if you followed me at the last General Convention you will remember that one of my greatest concerns was the lack of a monetary offering at the Daily Eucharists.
Much work has been done with the convention planners and this year at least a basket was placed at each entrance for people to give. Many did. Of course, no designation of where this will go was decided. Also, these baskets were often pushed to the side, and in the middle of this convention the Stewardship and Development Committee had to push to have it brought to the altar. But, we made progress. Perhaps it will take 10 years for our convention to follow the prayer book, and to actually allow those attending to give each day and have it presented to the altar. Perhaps next time we will allow the hosting diocese to choose who will receive the offering. But, we move slow. We take our time. And we definitely took our time this past few weeks. But, indeed, we finally did leave! And as our new Presiding Bishop-elect urged us to do in his sermon on the last day, GO! Go from here and share the Good News of Jesus Christ, and so we did!, and we do!