Every year, episcopal clergy and lay leaders gather in their respective dioceses to pray for and deliberate over the future of the church. At nearly 900 people, the Diocese of Texas is one of the largest. I’ll tell you that I often feel a mixture of introvert overwhelm and boredom. This year was really, really excellent. We seemed as a group to put our priorities in the right place.
The church is not here to have cleaner parliamentary procedure or even efficient meetings. We gather to dream about God’s dream for the world. Our chief dreamers were a laundry list of great preachers and teachers. Supported by this group, we still accomplished the business of the church. We left with a sense that the great commission is actually for each of us – now.
Friday, Bishop Doyle started us off by helping us reach across the ditches of our lives to make new neighbors. The Rev. Francene Young - were do I start? My apologies to Bp. Doyle and others, but she delivered the best sermon I have heard from an Episcopalian clergy, ever. I don’t want to sully it with my words, take a Listen. I took me a few minutes to get over my professional jealousy to really let her words sink, but I will never think of the book of Ruth the same way again.
The big surprise for me was the Friday plenary of the wellness ministry of the Diocese. I thought it was going to be a guilt fest for people to do more cardio, but what I saw was clergy and lay people doing super cool work to integrate faith and our bodies. There has been many “canoecharists” in the Diocese already! This is where family lash a bunch of canoes together and literally have Eucharist on a lake. A priest in Austin joked that she had to worry about rocking the boat when she read the gospel out of fear that she would have sunk three canoes.
I am dreaming about this summer for Ascension. How can we just hang out together and celebrate our faith? It will be hot but I can’t wait to sweat like a Body of Christ. We are working on “Summerfest” where after church we get together just to play.
We got down to more business on Saturday and the voting must have been rigged because I did not win election to standing committee! The woman who won, Rev. Hannah, is a gifted clergy with mad skills, so maybe I never had a chance. She is great and will bless the church. Losing stinks no matter how you slice it, but all the people nominated for various positions, bring their own mad skills for helping the diocese live into the great commission.
In other business, we approved the hiring of an assistant bishop; continued the work of updating constitutions and canons; and celebrated new churches and clergy.
Throughout council, last year’s senior warden and I talked for hours about ministry. A nice scotch helped fuel the conversation after leaving the council floor. All of the clergy and delegates, despite the many hours of work left light and airy with a sense of God’s plan growing in each of us.