Minnie Steele, Lay Deputy
It was my privilege to attend the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society The Episcopal Church’s 79th General Convention. I was awed by the size of our Episcopal Church, as thousands of the faithful came together in Austin Texas to attend to the business of the Church; proclaiming who we are, what we stand for and our direction forward. I was proud of our Minnesota Deputation, our ability to collaborate and discern, even though we did not always agree. We were thrilled to have Luisa Van Oss as our outstanding youth representative who joined us at joint legislative sessions.
I enjoyed the diversity of our Church, as I caucused with People of Color Deputies; working with Latina Dreamers, Indigenous, Black, Asian, and African deputies to discern what we agreed on and how we would strategize for a favorable outcome.
Although I thought of my first time attendance at General Convention as an educational session, I found myself testifying at committee hearings, facilitating a meeting, protesting Federal policy, fighting to bring Cuba back into the Church, and surprisingly running for an office in the larger church.
I experienced the good, bad and the ugly in our political process as I remember a man who literally screamed at the body of Deputies for 2 minutes because the majority supported the rights of the Palestinians; others using people, taking photo ops, supporting ‘the right causes’, talking to ‘the right people’ for their own self aggrandizement. It was an education for this novice. Yet the majority of those I met were about the good work of our beloved Church.
It was an emotional roller coaster, watching and listening to the Schentrup family as they courageously spoke out against gun violence in memory of their daughter and sister who was murdered at her high school in Parkland, Florida. I was on the bus with them as we were returning to Austin from the Hutto Detention Center where our government had deposited mothers of stolen children. We prayed, sang, marched, cried and let the women know that the Episcopal Church is not okay with forced separation of their families.
As Bernadette Demientieff, Alaskan Guich’in, spoke of the destruction of indigenous land and waters due to climate change and the introduction of ticks in the habitat of the Elk and Polar Bear that her people depend upon for survival, my heart ached.
When the Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of South Africa reiterated the destruction happening in the here and now, I remembered my first visit to that beautiful country in 2006, the old African who told me ‘something is very wrong, the animals are telling us, as long as I have been alive the animals make their migration at the same time, now it is weeks later, something is wrong!’
Indeed, something is wrong, much is wrong in our world. The People of Color Deputation worked diligently to introduce and bring before the Legislative Body a number of resolutions for the Care of Creation, Racial Reconciliation, Gun Violence, Immigration, Interpretations of language and justice.
We in Minnesota can do our part to care for creation by using only what we need, restoring what we can, protesting against injustice, seeing beyond the profit margin to a future for our grandchildren, seeking forgiveness for sins against others, reconciling with one another as we truly follow Jesus.