Respecting Differences – Sue Grove

General Convention of the Episcopal Church confirmed to me that there are many Episcopalians who care deeply about the Church and who want to see us move forward as a loving, inclusive community willing to do the hard work to serve others. It reinforced my personal belief that Episcopalians want to welcome everyone and to be a part of their local communities. It is difficult to express what it is to experience General Convention for the first time.  It was exhilarating, emotional, frustrating, exhausting, educational, and affirming all at the same time. One of the most moving moments was when both the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies voted unanimously to welcome Cuba back as a member for the first time since the 1960s. It was truly a historic moment – one I will always remember.

I closely followed the Committee working on proposed revisions to the prayer book.  I was impressed with the thoughtful and caring committee members who considered everyone’s comments with respect.  By attending most of the hearings, I made friends with others from around the United States who were there all the time as well.  The committee members came to recognize those of us who were there all the time and treated us as “regulars”. I learned that even in disagreement, people were heard and respected. Prayer and hymns were an integral part of the proceedings.  I watched compromise in action and even though the outcome was not what many wanted, I felt it was a way forward and that progress was made while trying to respect most people.

In addition to the legislative aspects of Convention, attendees had the opportunity to visit with vendors and organizations who provide invaluable services to those in need.  I was impressed with Thistle Farms https://thistlefarms.org, who assist victims of sex trafficking, prostitution, and addiction by providing shelter, support, and ultimately jobs.  They sell handcrafted items, which helps support the people and their programs.

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) also provides life saving services around the world.  One thing they are doing that can have an impact for Minnesota is their asset-mapping initiative. Individual faith communities can log onto ERD and complete a profile of their faith community and what services and facilities they can provide.  In case of a disaster or even a desire to connect for shared initiatives, others can contact a central source to locate partners – https://www.episcopalrelief.org/what-we-do/us-disaster-program/asset-map.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have represented Minnesota as a member of the House of Deputies. It was an incredible experience.

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