Dick Porter, Diane Garrison, Tamara Crupi and I were at the 142nd Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan Diocesan Convention in Battle Creek on Friday and Saturday. It was a very good Convention. Bishop Whayne Hougland continued sharing his vision for the Diocese. The theme in 2014 was “Changing the Game” with prayer, study, worship, outward facing ministry and a Rule of Life. The theme in 2015 was “Starting a Movement” discerning what we are called to be in the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan, our values and priorities, our emerging vision and to courageously follow and encourage others to follow the “Jesus Movement”, to experiment and take risks, to embody the love of God in our lives, reorienting our lives to be witnesses to a way that is loving, liberating and life giving, a way that can change this world.
In 2016 we are “Getting into the Groove of the Jesus Movement.” The Spirit is vividly moving in vibrant ways among us as we seek to live into our emerging vision to:
1. Communicate better with God, each other and the world around us.
2. Reach out to younger generations.
3. Raise up a Deacon in every congregation as a catalyst for mission.
4. Support programs that address needs around food, water and shelter.
5. Engage in a process of Asset Mapping.
Bishop Whayne shared with us many stories and videos, including our own, of new and exciting ministries sprouting organically all over our diocese, demonstrating what the loving, liberating and life-giving Jesus Movement looks like. Look for our Albion Community Gardens Video on Facebook and I included the link on our website under Outreach. The Bishop and the Convention were very affirming of our ministries here in Albion. Reverend Law encouraged us to “Keep God’s Blessings Flowing!”
We were reminded of the importance of voting on Tuesday, that it is an important civil duty and a privilege that too many take too lightly forgetting the sacrifices that others have made so that we can vote. We are asked to remember our tradition of considering “scripture, tradition and reason” and not to succumb to the dehumanizing rhetoric displayed by many seeking their own will instead of the will of God and distorting our relationship with God, our neighbors and ourselves. In our baptismal vows we are called to love all our neighbors, to strive for justice and peace and to respect the dignity of every human being even Republicans and Democrats.
The Reverend Jennifer Adams gave a report from the Task Force on Restructuring.
Judy Fleener and The Reverend Zachariah Char were elected to the Standing Committee.
William “Bill” Fleener Jr, Anne P. Davidson, Thomas W. Perrin and Mary Wylie Simpson were elected Lay Deputies to General Convention with Pamela “Pam” Chapman, Dr. Barbara J. Kelly and Amanda Henes elected as Alternate Deputies.
The Reverend Canon William J. Spaid, The Very Reverend Brian Coleman, The Reverend Anne Schnaare and The Reverend Nurya Love Parish were elected Clergy Deputies to General Convention in Austin, Texas July 5th to 13th, 2018, with The Very Reverend Jared C. Cramer, The Reverend Cindy Nawrocki and The Reverend Paula Durren serving as Clergy Alternate Deputies.
The Reverend Eric Law, Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Institute was our Keynote Speaker and guest preacher at the Convention Eucharist and Confirmation. Some of you may remember that we did a book study with Trinity, Marshall two years ago on Reverend Eric Law’s book “The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb: A Spirituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community”. Reverend Law held three workshops and a sermon on the topic of “Holy Currencies: 6 Blessings for Sustainable Missional Ministries”. Reverend Law suggests that there are Six Currencies necessary for a sustainable ministry: the Currency of Time and Place, the Currency of Gracious Leadership, the Currency of Relationship, the Currency of Truth, the Currency of Wellness and the Currency of Money. I highly recommend his book to you.
During his sermon for All Saints Day, The Reverend Eric Law said that there are three things necessary for a saint. The first is to remember that we are a beloved child of God and that God loves us. He asked us to repeat after him, “I am a beloved child of God and God loves me!” Let’s try it.
The second trait of a saint is to remember that all people are a beloved child of God, even our enemies, those who vote differently than we do, and ISIS. He asked us to turn to at least three different people sitting near us and tell them, “You are a beloved child of God and I will listen to you.” This is how we build relationships, by listening to the other. Let us try this at the peace.
The third trait of a saint is to go and spend time with the poor and the powerless, to listen to their stories and to learn their truth, to be curious and to ask questions, to get to know our neighbors.
This morning’s gospel is from “The Sermon on the Plain” in Luke chapter six. Jesus promises blessings to the poor, the hungry, the sorrowful, the abused and the powerless. Jesus warns those who have an abundance not to neglect the poor and the powerless, but to share from our abundance so that all may have enough.
We had a great time at the Western Michigan Diocesan Convention. Please speak with Dick, Diane, Tamara or me to hear more about our experience at convention. And remember, “You are a Beloved Child of God and God Loves You!” Amen.