Our 222nd Diocesan Convention for the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island was held last weekend at St. Luke’s church in East Greenwich. For anyone who doesn’t know, at Convention each church in the diocese is represented by elected delegates from their congregation. Delegates and clergy and guests gather together to worship, hear an address from the Bishop, and listen to reports from various ministries and committees. Then clergy and delegates vote on resolutions that will effect the life of our Diocese. Some years the resolutions require lots of discussion, prayer, and discernment of the Holy Spirit. Other years – like this year – the resolutions were pretty easy to move through.
Our last big diocesan event took place in March. It was our Convocation – an education event for the whole diocese. The theme was on Feeding the Hungry, and I was asked at the last minute to lead a discussion on Feeding the Hungry Youth in our midst. I was happy to help, but had not yet met any of the staff or campers from ECC. I knew some clergy and parishioners from my years growing up in RI, but I didn’t really know anyone. I had only just returned to the diocese the month before. I enjoyed the Convocation, but I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait until the next diocesan event when I had finished a summer and knew more of the people in our state and in the camp community.
This past weekend, with my first summer as director under my belt and after lots of weeks supplying at churches around the diocese, I got my wish. I knew LOTS of people at Convention, and it was really exciting to greet people that I have worshipped and served with all in one place. But most importantly, this time I made a point to recruit some of my ECC staff to be at Convention with me. We had a small display set up in the Parish Hall to tell people about camp, and we made an announcement about our “Send A Kid to Camp” program. (The cost for us per camper each summer is about $700, and we only charge $350. You can do the math… it’s bad for the budget. So we ask our churches to “Send a Kid to Camp” by raising the other $350 to make up for the difference in cost. It’s a great way for them to be part of our incredible ministry at ECC.) When I got up to make the announcement I had some of our counselors by my side. EVEN BETTER, when I was sitting in the pew in the back of the church soaking up the Convention I had counselors by my side. I was so proud. I loved having camp people there to represent ECC and to learn about what happens in our diocese. After all, our ministries in this state are a combined effort – we have to support the diocese and we expect the diocese to support us!
I wasn’t sure what my teenaged counselors were thinking of the Convention. I’ll admit that there were some moments that dragged on just a little, and it was a lot to take in, especially for people new to the Convention scene. They were great sports about it though, and genuinely seemed interested what was going on there. The best moment for me personally came at the end of the day when it was time to turn in our name badges. The ladies with me were willing to turn in the plastic coverings, but asked to keep the part with their names printed on it so they could remember there day at Convention.
This is EXACTLY the kind of thing that gets me excited about being at ECC and working at the diocese. I am convinced that we can do so much good in this little state working together and understanding the whole of what we do as a church in this place. Having ECC counselors and campers showing up at Convention now will help turn them into the kind of people and leaders that will be at Convention years from now, continuing to love and care for our great church. And it’s wonderful for the Convention to see the campers and counselors so that people in our parishes know what a great thing we have going at camp.
So now, I’m excited for the next Convention, where I am convinced we will have an even stronger ECC presence. I’m excited to show off the incredible teenagers that we have working for us that give of themselves and their time and talents cheerfully and without reservation whenever they are asked. I’m excited for our young people to have an impact on this diocese and on our church, because I am sure they will inspire the people around them and bring energy and enthusiasm to the ministry we share.
Thanks to my peeps that came out that day. Stay tuned for more opportunities to be a part of the diocese!