I am in Indianapolis at General Convention, as an Alternate Deputy for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. This is not my first GC adventure; the first was the historic 2003 GC when +Gene Robinson was approved to be consecrated as Bishop of New Hampshire. But this is my first GC adventure with this particular deputation. I am honored to be here with such a fine group of people. Prior to Convention, the deputation had met four times to prepare well, discussing issues that would likely arise and deciding to pay attention to particular ones. Now, during GC, we all often gather for meals (save for a couple of us who seem to be meeting non-stop in big committees like PB & F, the one dealing with financial and budget issues) and every evening, our bishop and deputation meet to de-brief about the day.
We have started the first two days of Convention with Holy Eucharist. As we gather to sing, to pray, and to worship, I watch people go forward to receive communion and marvel at the great diversity of the Church. This morning, one of the readings was done in the Hmong language–a primarily oral East Asian language. The Hmong people have been persecuted. Yet they continue to have courage and faith, and there is a large church of Hmong expatriates here in the US. This morning, as we got to the Lord’s Prayer, the Celebrant invited us all to say that prayer in our own language. After we finished, we could hear, from the far corner of the room, the sound of a group of people singing. I do not know this for sure, but I think it was some Hmong brothers and sisters singing the Lord’s Prayer. Whoever was singing, and in whatever language, it sounded like something holy and incredibly beautiful. Despite my inability to know, I resonated with it deep in my soul and it brought unexpected tears to my eyes.
Later, in a legislative session, two young people addressed the Convention about the need to continue to fund Episcopal Youth events. One of them, a young Latina, said this: “Youth events have taught me to speak up, even when my voice trembles.” She then talked about how the youth may be the future of the Church but they are making a difference NOW. While I agree that they are making a difference now, I also believe–and have for years–that youth and children are not the future of the Church. They are the present of the Church. The now in the Church. And as I watch young people come to the microphones and find their voices to support particular pieces of legislation, my heart sings.
I am aware that there are many people throughout the world who are learning to speak up–even when their voices tremble. I pray that not only will they find their voices, but that we will have the ears to hear what they have to say.
On a lighter note, I found St. Mary Magdalene today. She was striking a pose in Forward Day by Day booth at GC. St. Philippians, we will be doing Lenten Madness next year! Already got some score cards!!!