Dustin Cole of Saint John’s Church, Georgetown was nice enough to provide us with this report on his experience at the Young Adult Festival, which was going on in Columbus at the same time as General Convention. Here’s Dustin:
I believe that the Episcopal Church’s slogan of “Come and Grow” has understated the impact that general convention has had on my spiritual growth. During the convention, I participated in the Young Adult’s Festival (YAF) with people from all over the country (and the world). Our involvement ranged from forums, panel discussions, committee hearings, to Holy Eucharist, young adult led Compline services, and an earth-shaking Integrity service. The experiences have left me with not only a deeper knowledge and faith in the Episcopal Church’s community, but shared a spiritual growth that continues to radiate from me after I left the boundaries of Columbus, Ohio.
This being my first convention, I had no expectations on what should or might happen. When I first arrived, I was welcomed warmly with open arms and everyone was so excited to be a part of our community. Participants in the YAF were eager to learn about each other’s experiences with the church, our ideas for being a current leader (not a future leader, mind you), and how our differences in ideas made us stronger. After seven days of listening, sharing and partying with one another, I believe we all left with expectations on how to grow our lives outside of convention.
The past week has given me a stronger sense of how to find the sacramental in my daily living. Although there is such an awesome presence of Christ in sharing Holy Communion, we tend to overlook God’s presence in our daily tasks and relaxations. It became more apparent to me that Christ can be present in our work, our art, or even dancing late at night. Dozens of us young adults learned how to knit and how we can use that as channel of prayer. We also discovered how the movement of our bodies through meditation, walking and simply standing can help to center our thoughts.
After watching and reading about the remainder of convention I continued to see our church’s arms wide open, continuing our call to “welcome everyone.” Of course we must make sacrifices for one another, but I believe that we did our best to reject statements and boundaries that aimed to create restrictions on proclaiming God’s love for all people. We allowed the Holy Spirit to speak through us during our times of conflict and process of reconciliation. We all left the convention knowing that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I am so thankful for God continuing to speak to us in ways that we can understand and our ability to listen to God’s word made flesh.