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Reflections on General Convention, First Installment

Our Guest Columnist is Mother Carola von Wrangel

As part of my work with Food for the Poor, I traveled to Austin, Texas for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in early July. As an exhibitor rather than a deputy, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the Episcopal Church, attend worship services and legislative meetings, and participate in various “happenings.” It was a very full week, with much to process. Over the coming weeks, I’d like to share some of these experiences with you.

What is General Convention?

Every three years the Episcopal Church meets to celebrate and decide on various resolutions and issues brought before a legislative body. Each of the now 111 dioceses sends its bishops plus four clergy and four lay deputies (as well as alternates) to convention. Then there are exhibitors, the press, diocesan staff, families, and friends. In all, about 10,000 people gather for General Convention. The Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, is the leader and provides vision for Convention and the direction of the Church in general. As we have seen at the Royal Wedding and with Bishop Curry in our diocese in June, we have a dynamic leader with a strong vision. We are the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement!

What one memory of General Convention stands out for me

On Sunday morning, about 1000 of us climbed into buses (provided for by Trinity Church, Wall Street) and were driven out to the Hutto Detentions Center, an hour outside Austin, where women asylum seekers are being detained. These women have been separated from their children.

Our group gathered in a field, where we prayed, sang, heard testimonies, and stood in solidarity with the women inside the facility. They in turn waved from the narrow windows. This was a powerful witness to God’s love and grace. This was our message of the hope we have in Jesus Christ — a message for the women in the detention center as well as for each of us in that field …and all of us. As St. Paul says in the letter to the Galations, “For it is for freedom that we have been set free.”