Written by Bishop Ed Little, retired Bishop of Northern Indiana
July 12, 2018
St. Paul calls the church “the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). I experience that biblical truth in a profound way at General Convention. It is an enormous gathering: nearly 900 deputies, about 120 bishops, and thousands of visitors, exhibitors, ecumenical and Anglican Communion guests, and media personnel. Convention can be an overwhelming experience. And yet . . . one of the great joys of General Convention is the opportunity to re-connect with friends and colleagues from around the country and around the world. Over the course of nearly two weeks in Austin, I’ve been blessed to see so many beloved brothers and sisters who’ve touched me over the years – former parishioners, colleagues with whom I’ve served in many capacities, Facebook friends “materializing” for the first time. Although this is my tenth General Convention, I never fail to be filled with gratitude for the people who have enriched my life, encouraged my walk with Jesus, and shown me what it means to be a disciple. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has been a special gift throughout Convention, as he has challenged us to turn our hearts to Jesus and follow wherever Jesus leads.
General Convention, of course, is not simply a huge family gathering. It is a legislative body, making decisions for the future of the church. But by definition, resolutions produce “winners” and “losers,” people who agree with what’s been decided (or rejected) and people who don’t. There was a difference at this Convention. Two particularly controversial topics dominated the conversation in the run-up to Convention – Prayer Book revision and same-sex marriage. On both topics, however, what emerged was (for lack of a better phrase) a godly compromise. Leaders across the spectrum carefully listened to one another, sought common ground, and looked for ways of crafting responses that make all of us “stretch” and that allow room for everyone. I am enormously encouraged. St. Paul tells his friends in Corinth, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21). In other words, we need each other. We are incomplete without each other. And so, often in painful ways, we are called to reach out to one another across the differences that can so easily separate us into spiritual silos. The 79th General Convention broke down barriers and built bridges. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!