Yesterday really was an amazing day. The full work of The 77th General Convention got underway as both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops organized for business and began to vote on legislation that had made its way out of committees. At 7:30pm, approximately 600 people (according to @LelandaLee) showed up to listen to testimony about the structure that will take The Episcopal Church into Christianity’s 3rd millennium. Finally, at 9:30pm 125 or so folks gathered in the Westin Hotel to dream dreams about that same future.
The Acts 8 Moment gathering was convened by Susan Browne Snook (A Good and Joyful Thing), Scott Gunn (Seven Whole Days), and Tom Ferguson (Crusty Old Dean) to pray, study Scripture, and dream together about how The Episcopal Church might serve God in the years to come. After we heard readings from Acts, chapter 8, folks shared what struck them. We heard things like “they went to Samaria… to those people,” “great fear lead to great joy,” and “Philip did something.” The most important part of the evening came when whoever wanted to come to the mic was asked to finish one sentance.
“I dream of a Church that…”
I encourage you to check out @melodyshobe on Twitter, she is a speedy one on her iphone and got a lot of the responses on her feed. Sound bytes include:
- “I dream of a church that…” is more worried about laying its life down for the life of the world than about self preservation
- “I dream of a church that…” has made peace with the fact that it not a corporation or a kingdom or a government.
- “I dream of a church that…” is willing to take risks knowing that what God does not bless, God will redeem.
- “I dream of a church that…” isn’t ashamed to proclaim Jesus. (that was my answer)
(The Diocese of Maine’s communications staff got it all on video – “I dream of a Church that…”)
It was a powerful time of sharing, of hoping for the future, and of mourning for the way things are. As we prepared to end our time, ready to regather on the 11th, several people stood up and said, “Wait! We need to actually do something.” And so, with and empowering word from Andy Doyle, Bishop of Texas, five affinity groups were formed: one to propose candidates for HoD offices, one to draft legislation, one on dream sharing, one on local contexts, and one to pray for the whole thing.
Some in the room were uncomfortable with some of these actions steps, especially those that use the machinations of Convention, but I have to say that I was relieved to hear other folks who were ready to DO something. As I drifted to sleep late last night, the opening line in this Sunday’s Ezekiel text would not leave me alone.
“Mortal,” the LORD says to Ezekiel, “stand up!” Get up. Get moving. Get to work. And make that dream a reality.
Maybe I’m naive, but I honestly thing change is possible. I really think that if enough of us commit to changing the discourse in the church from anxiety and death to joy and hopefulness that the rest of the Church will follow suite. I truly believe that if we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, amazing things will happen. It happened over and over in Scripture. Old Testament prophets like Ezekiel told the story of God and amazing things happened. The Apostles told the Good News and dead people were literally brought back to life. Change is possible, but only if we act.
Mortal(s), Friends, Fellow Dreamers.