Diocesan Convention in Rhode Island
It’s late, and I don’t…um…exactly know what I’m going to say in tomorrow’s sermon, so I won’t say much here beyond a quick narrative. However, I did promise a Convention report, so here goes.
Our day began with Holy Eucharist at 8:30 a.m. I never enjoy liturgies in hotel ballrooms, and this one fit into the pattern: nondescript rooms with poor lighting, wall-to-wall carpet, and a generally uninspiring space. I like music that’s either a cappella or accompanied by real, acoustic instruments. Faux pianos never quite do the trick. Still, there were good things. Our guest preacher was Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana, from our newly linked companion diocese. He offered a sermon that was humorous and challenging. Perfect, actually, for the beginning of a Convention, reminding us of the church’s real mission. It was also nice to see our newest clergy assisting in the service, rather than the “usual suspects.”
We then moved to a legislative room for an interminable series of reports. Each one individually was fine, but — wow! — my brain turns to mush after eight reports on anything, no matter how good they are. I was pleased that the parish I serve was included in the Congregational Development Commission as an example of a parish that’s headed in the right direction. I hope our delegation was proud, since it’s the people of the church who are responding to God’s grace helping us to grow and flourish.
In Rhode Island we engage in what strikes me as an odd custom. We read a necrology of those who have died since the last convention. Every congregation can send as many names as they like. There were 246 names read out. While I applaud our recognition of the communion of saints, I can never quite figure out how this fits with Diocesan Convention. My official suggestion for next year: let’s read out the names of those who have been baptized since the last convention — the newest saints.
After noonday prayer and lunch, there were hearings on the resolutions. For complicated reasons having to do with espresso, comfortable chairs in the lobby, and good conversation, I cannot report on the hearings here. Following hearings, we resumed our legislative session with consideration of five resolutions. We quickly — without any debate or even audible “no” votes — passed three resolutions on immigration. The most assertive of them criticizes our governor’s crackdown on immigrants. There was much (annoying) discussion on process related to a resolution on disaster preparedness, but it finally passed. Lastly, we approved a resolution asking us to undertake a look at the ways in which the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island benefited from the slave trade in the 19th century.
After the obligatory courtesy resolution affirming our love of our bishop, apple pie, puppies, and flowers, we finished up at about 2:30. It was an OK, if uninspiring day. My goal is to be part of a Diocesan Convention one day that helps to recharge people’s spirits. I hope we might take note of some Conventions from places where this happens. Thoughts, dear readers?