image above: Timothy Baskerville-Burrows, 7, in blue, and friend, John Rejouis, 6, distribute communion bread during the closing Eucharist of the 79th General Convention. Timothy’s father, Harrison Burrows, looks on. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service
Karen Anderson is a Deputy to the 79th General Convention and a member of St. James’ Church in Clinton. Looking back at ten days of #GC79, she most values time taken for prayer and building relationships.
See all reflections from CNY’s General Convention deputation at cnyepiscopal.org/gc79.
General Convention is a grueling, rewarding, inspirational, and deeply spiritual experience. Deputies have two or three legislative sessions per day over the course of the Convention’s ten days. When we are not in a legislative session, we are taking part in committee meetings, reading resolutions and amendments, worshiping, and—oh yeah—eating and sleeping. This year we had the added honor of taking a trip to the Hutto Women’s Detention Center to sing, pray, and show the women inside that we support them. That was a particularly moving day. Then to hear from one of the women inside just how much it meant to them to see us there increased our conviction that this was a Spirit driven event.
While the work we do at General Convention is important, for me the most meaningful events involve relationship. To sit at committee hearings and listen to highly intelligent, articulate, passionate and spiritual people is a gift. We have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and listen to how the legislation we consider affects their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Those conversations are heartfelt and moving, and sometimes life- (or vote-) changing. As we pass each other in the halls and elevators we have the opportunity to see and hear what people are thinking. During worship we praise God and are inspired by rousing (watch Presiding Bishop Curry), and thought-provoking sermons. At special services like the Liturgy of Listening (for which our own Bishop DeDe Duncan-Probe was lead planner) we listened and prayed with victims of sexual misconduct and abuse. On the bus ride to Hutto we had the opportunity to have wonderful conversation for over 30 minutes each way with folks we were sitting near. And perhaps the most rewarding joy was the chance to form deep relationships with our fellow Central New York Deputation. You should know that your elected Deputies have been deliberate and collegial, prayerful and sometimes playful in our time together on and off the legislative floor. I feel honored to have served with each of them.
Watch Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows’ sermon at the closing Eucharist of General Convention. Sermon starts at 21:51. Transcript also available.
While all the resolutions we consider are meaningful, some have larger personal impact than others. In my faith journey, the steps we took this convention to address racial discrimination and social justice were some of the most important ones. This church has work to do, and the Spirit was with us when we prayed silently and aloud prior to important votes. In her sermon during General Convention’s closing Eucharist Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of Indianapolis (a former CNY parish priest) asked us if we were ready to go. She spoke of the sense of hope she has for this church. I too feel hopeful that The Episcopal Church can be a leader in loving our neighbors and in speaking up against injustice. Bishop Jennifer reminded us that we have to “speak up” and we have to “show up,” because “a movement has to move!”
I know many are concerned about the revision of the Book of Common Prayer, but I will assure you, this will not be a speedy process, nor one taken lightly. I wholeheartedly believe the church is mindful of the beauty of our liturgy and prayers and there is no intent to disregard either.
One thing that was upsetting was during our deliberations about our relationship with Israel and Palestine there were passionate arguments for and against the resolutions we considered. At one point we were informed by a fellow deputy that Twitter was lighting up with not very nice things to say about a fellow deputy’s stand. I pray that the Episcopal Church can avoid the negative mentality of much of social media. I believe there is room for all of us in this church and I know that if we can stay in loving relationship, we can disagree without being disagreeable. Social media is a powerful tool, I hope we can use it to spread the good news that is Jesus, the risen Christ.
I want to thank this Diocese for the opportunity to serve as your Deputy at GC. It has been a challenging, but very rewarding endeavor. I look forward to seeing where the Spirit calls us as individuals, and parishes, as the Diocese of Central New York, and as The Episcopal Church.