by The Rev. Troy Mendez
Jesus said, “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are ruined, but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” Matthew 14:16-17
The 80th General Convention has now concluded and our continuing ministry for the Kingdom of God has been renewed once again. God is indeed doing a new thing in the Episcopal Church!
For months, your Arizona deputation has been studying together, praying together, and debating the various resolutions that came forward at this shortened, but expedited convention. We had hundreds of pieces of legislation that needed to be addressed, and we had less than four days at the convention to examine, process, debate, and eventually vote on all of the legislation brought forward.
Legislation & Resolutions at General Convention
It will not be difficult to see the fruits of our labor very soon. Some of our accomplishments include the following:
- Establishing extensive anti-racism programs based on reports from The Presiding Officers’ Working Group on Truth-telling, Reckoning, and Healing.
- Committing to do the work of addressing the Episcopal Church’s role in slavery and in the creation of Indigenous Boarding Schools for Native Americans.
- Establishing procedures to study and compile revisions to the Book of Common Prayer, keeping a balance between preserving traditions and seeking out new ways to pray.
- Creating a Director of LGBTQIA and Women’s Ministries for The Episcopal Church.
- Re-uniting the Episcopal Church of North Texas with the Diocese of Texas
- Examining new business models on adaptive leadership, online formation, and innovation in all aspects of ministry.
- Concurring with the 79th General Convention and establishing full communion between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
- Electing numerous representatives to the Church Pension Fund board and to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church.
- Electing Julia Ayala Harris as President of the House of Deputies, and The Rev. Rachel Taber-Hamilton as the Vice President of the House of Deputies, the first Latina woman and the first Native American woman to hold these offices.
And of course, there were hundreds of additional articles of legislation approved, too.
Legislative Committees at General Convention
Various members of your Arizona deputation served on legislative committees that met prior to the convention, while others supported deputies on committees through their research and prayers.
Arizona’s deputy, The Rev. John Kitagawa, received the House of Deputies Medal from President Gay Clark Jennings – the highest honor that can be bestowed upon deputies. The Rev. Judy Conley participated in reading names during the worship of all the deputies who have died over the past quadrennium. The Very Rev. Troy Mendez participated as a communion minister in the opening worship service, and our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Jennifer Reddall led the singing in the House of Bishops during the convention.
Working towards a Better Church
The Holy Spirit poured upon the deputies and bishops in Baltimore. This was no mere business meeting. This convention was the holy work of God for you, the holy people of God. Yes, God is doing new things among us, and we will benefit from all of them.
In her sermon, during the closing worship of the convention, new President Julia Ayala Harris said that our old approach to how we are the church has taken us as far as we can go. She asserted that “new wineskins mean doing ministry among what [the people and ministries] we have previously socially constructed as weeds. It is time to chart a different course.”
Yes, friends, the Holy Spirit is up to something good in the Episcopal Church. We will all benefit from this convention. New ministries will activate and engage our souls. New wineskins emerge and new wine pours forth. The presence of Christ will lead us into all truth and we will see God’s work in front of our very eyes.
From this good news, we might be lost in wonder, love, and praise, but God will accompany us and bless us on our journey. Our task now is to imagine the possibilities. The renewal begins!