Ever since returning from the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, we (Lisa and Kyle) have been trying to decide what would be most helpful to share with followers of the Center for the Ministry of Teaching. What would our readers want to know about the goings-on at the triennial legislative gathering and family reunion, especially given the wealth of coverage that has come out already?
Should we share a resource roundup to spread the news about tools and programs we encountered? Should we dive deeply into the legislation itself and share our hopes for the ways our church might change in the next three years? Should we toast our Presiding Bishop-Elect, commenting on what it means (and doesn’t mean) that we’ve elected a “chief evangelism officer” and also the first African American to hold this office?
We settled on a not-so-humble brag about our amazing partners in ministry.
You see, if we had to boil our convention experience down to one theme, one common refrain, it would be something like this:
Wow! We have some remarkable friends doing amazing things!
You probably don’t need us to tell you that the following networks/teams/organizations are doing good work. Nevertheless, we couldn’t help but geek out a bit about what our colleagues across the Church were up to, and we were always thrilled on those occasions when we were invited to join in the fun.
The Episcopal Church’s most e-biquitous monks were out in force—and in person—at convention. And while enthusiasm was high about the Brothers’ Lent 2016 offering, Growing a Rule of Life (full disclosure: the CMT helped them develop it), we want to take a moment to commend their other big GC effort.
The social-media-crowdsourced Prayers of the People (#prayersof) were a liturgical high point and probably the best faith formation happening at the convention. Lisa and Kyle both had prayers selected for GC worship, and that added personal meaning to a practice that was already an affecting blend of the ancient and modern. Thanks, SSJE, for giving new meaning to the phrase “prayers ascending.”
Learn more and check out the final prayer texts at prayersofthepeople.org.
A founding member of the Via Media Collective, The Collect Call is a show we’ve long admired for its consistent quality and liturgical/spiritual insight. But Holli Powell and Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale kicked it into podcasting overdrive for Salt Lake City, releasing fourteen GC episodes.
Among our favorites were “Inclusive Language from a Trans Perspective” (with Andy Leigh) and “The Chaplain of the House of Deputies” with Lester MacKenzie. And, of course, we both enjoyed being part of the live cross-over episode Brendan and Holli so masterfully orchestrated.
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We fancy ourselves pretty good content creators in the Center for the Ministry of Teaching, especially given the size of our team. But, we were in total awe of the amount and quality of the GC web content produced by the Latino/Hispanic Ministries network.
From interviewing Presiding Bishop candidates to highlighting the musical gifts of this community to promoting ministry resources, our friends challenged us to think multiculturally and to have some fun. We’re also very grateful to Anthony Guillén’s lifting up of e-Formation en Español at the Latino/Hispanic Ministries dinner.
If you were only looking for a booth with their name on it, then you missed the Episcopal Church Foundation at General Convention. We don’t have any inside information here, but we suspect this decision on their part was simply another example of this lay-run organization challenging the conventional wisdom on effective ministry practice.
As always, what we learned from ECF was to stop and ask why one is taking a particular approach before running off and doing it. From where we were sitting, it seemed that not having a booth freed their representatives up to support their partners (you may have seen them at the Forward Movement booth promoting the newly updated Vestry Resource Guide in English and Spanish) and to bring together small groups of leaders outside of the convention hall for hospitality and conversation.
At an event that is over-programmed and full to the brim with loud, opinionated people (not exempting ourselves here), the ECF convention relational presence was a calming deep breath.
The fact that the EES booth was in our convention hall neighborhood was pure grace that allowed us to celebrate a long-standing relationship. Kyle’s role as Digital Missioner was conceived after receiving an EES grant to develop a website through which he shared seminary-generated creative content with non-traditional audiences.
At General Convention, EES released four new professional videos describing diverse projects grantees have undertaken. There was a lot of joy and Jesus going on! We began a conversation with Executive Director Day Smith Pritchartt about how EES can make innovative evangelism resources developed by grantees in specific contexts more accessible to the wider church.
We could never write a post like this without mentioning Forma, the network of Christian formation ministers in the Episcopal Church. The CMT is so grateful that Forma took the plunge to exhibit with us, sharing costs generously and inviting us fully into the organization’s principal GC ministry: advocacy.
Once again, Forma helped refine and support legislation that will equip and support the teachers in our churches. Once again, Forma helped raise awareness of our church’s disturbing habit of under-funding education ministries and ministries with young people. Once again, Forma demonstrated that grassroots networking is alive and well in the church and that national, regional, and local partnerships work together to empower the ministry of Christian formation in Episcopal churches.
If this post sounds to you like equal parts thank-you note, letter from a (not so) secret admirer, and—yes, of course—a resource list, then we’ve managed to get our point across despite our lingering convention fatigue. Please join us in supporting these most excellent parachurch teams and organizations, and in thanking them for all they contributed in Salt Lake City.