Making connections at General Convention

By Brenda Hamilton

Connectivity. These days that word usually brings technology to mind. As we get started here in Anaheim, I’ve been practicing connectivity today. This morning as I drank my coffee in my hotel room I fiddled with my laptop until I made sure my email was working. Connected, I sent messages to those at home and to family here in California to let them know of my safe arrival. Next I connected to the internet, logging onto the General Convention website and Episcopal News Service to make sure I would be able to review all the latest legislative developments and follow all that goes on at once here. Feeling a little overwhelmed by the rush of activity and the volume of information that gets thrown at deputies as soon as they arrive I decided to take a break from technology and walked out into a perfect warm California day… the kind I remember from growing up not far from here… re-connecting with my own history.

There is a wonderful allay of tall royal palm trees lining a courtyard along side the Convention Center. The filtered light beneath them is calm and soothing. I decide it will be my meditation space this week when things get hectic… connectivity of a different sort. “O Lord quiet our hearts and minds that we may hear the inspiration of your Holy Spirit.”

As the day went on, I met up with my fellow deputies and Bishop Lane. We are all getting our feet under us, figuring out who is serving on what committees, who is following what legislation, attending our first hearings. I wander through the exhibit hall and make notes on my map of those booths I want to be sure to visit. The other work of convention is about networking, meeting people, talking about what others are doing to love and serve the Lord. Over lunch, I talk with a priest who sits beside me about a colleague of his who would like to come to Maine… new connections. I run into retired Bishop Chilton for a few minutes talk about ministry in the Diocese of Haiti… happy to renew an old connection.

Finally we head into the worship space to hear from our Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori. I remember how wonderful it felt to be part of the General Convention in Ohio that elected her three years ago. And I am mindful of the connection from one triennium to the next of the journey we make as a church people. We walk on a pilgrimage together. Sometimes agreeing, sometimes with sharp differences, but always if we are faithful, in loving connection with one another. On Wednesday, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be with us and I know we will be reminded of the broader connection we have with our fellow Anglicans around the world.

I never expected to become the “church lady” I seem to be today. Opportunities to serve God through the catalyst of the church just keep opening before me, beckoning me to take one more step down that path of pilgrimage. When I first became involved in ministry in the Diocese of Maine, I began to realize how I belong not just to my parish, but to a family of parishes that together bring God’s love to the people of Maine. Serving at General Convention is a bit the same. Here is the tangible reminder that we are a family of church members, who make up a family of dioceses, who are The Episcopal Church that spans many countries and cultures and is still connected to the family of the wider Anglican Communion by our ministries together. I remember the feeling I had when I became an Episcopalian, of connection with church history through the ages and the slow, deliberate arc of justice, reconciliation and love that overcomes our failures and our differences because we are after all, intimately connected to the unfolding of God’s kingdom in the world.

Brenda Hamilton, a deputy from the Diocese of Maine, is a member of St. Andrew’s, Newcastle. Hat tip: Heidi Shott.

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