One of the many takeaways from General Convention was the need to tend to those outside of the straight, white, male, able-bodied community. There was a task force assembled before Convention to address issues raised by the #metoo movement. Out of that group came many resolutions about sexual harassment and abuse, equality in payment and hiring, parenting accommodations, and eliminating bias in bishop searches. Our African-American brothers and sisters also called for work on pay equity and broader issues, such as voter suppression. Our foreign language speakers rallied for more translated liturgies and legislation, as well as increased interpreters throughout Convention. Our disabled and deaf members lobbied for better accommodations during Convention. Our LGBTQ members called for broader inclusion and more intentional expansive and inclusive language. Our immigrant members also called for thoughtfulness about our ordination processes, noting that many dioceses are unwilling to consider entering into a formal discernment process with someone if their immigration status is not settled.
There are probably more issues I am forgetting, but what struck me about each of these movements is that they are not just General Convention issues or wider church issues. These are issues for every parish. At our own parish, we are struggling to provide hearing assistance to our hearing-impaired members due to lack of volunteers to run our sound system. Having served on a Commission on Ministry (COM) in another diocese, I realize now how our restrictions around immigration could have limited the movement of the Holy Spirit. Even the conversation about breastfeeding on the Convention floor made me realize that we all have work to do about making our worship spaces as welcoming as possible. Having watched these issues unfold at General Convention, I am convinced that there are issues we are overlooking as well.
Jesus always struck me as someone who saw everyone – especially people that society, religious leaders, and even his disciples overlooked or dismissed. He had a knack for seeing the marginalized, the oppressed, and those cast out or looked down upon. He asked their stories, engaged them in conversation and relationship, he often restored them to health and status in the community. He showed us what it means to respect the dignity of every human being. When we reaffirm our baptismal covenant, or when we say, “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You,” how might we do a better job of bringing what we say in line with what we do? General Convention’s work was a way of pointing us back to the work of Jesus. How might Hickory Neck engage in this same work? How might you engage in this same work in your everyday life?