by Elizabeth Blondia
The 144th Diocesan Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan convened on November 2 and 3, 2018 in Lansing. In attendance from Grace Church were George Prewitt, Tony Nelson, Elizabeth Blondia, and The Reverend Kathryn Costas. We were joined by around 300 clergy and laypeople from all around our diocese who came to Lansing ready to address the business of our diocese but also to worship and pray together in order to “move deeper” into our relationship with each other and with God.
Bishop Whayne Hougland and the Keynote Speaker, The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright, Bishop of Atlanta, both addressed the Convention theme of Moving Deeper. Bishop Hoagland reminded us that moments of crisis – in our lives, in our church, in our world – are times of decision. A video clip from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry asked us if we want to give in to the chaos or do we want to intentionally and prayerfully create the community/relationships/lives we want? Seeing things how they are instead of how we want them to be is how we move deeper in our relationships with each other and with God. Bishop Wright encouraged us to find the courage to say yes, to move out of our comfort zone, to ask hard questions in order to find deep-down answers, and to “let Jesus write some graffiti on our souls.” When we remain with what feels comfortable, we don’t grow and we don’t get to experience anything fully. When we take risks and trust that God will be with us, we can grow in faith and in relationship with each other.
As usual, there was business to attend to as well. We approved the diocesan budget for 2019, elected laypeople and clergy to the Diocesan Standing Committee, passed five resolutions, and heard reports from various ministries around the diocese. The specifics of each of these can be found on the Diocesan website (edwm.org/diocesan-convention). It was during these business sessions that we as Christians were really able to “walk the walk” instead of just talking the talk. People got angry but still listened to each other with love and patience. People said things they regretted and then asked for forgiveness. People cried out of frustration or sadness and were supported and heard. There was conflict but it was resolved peacefully.
I believe we all left Convention on Saturday afternoon feeling that our individual parishes, our diocese and the greater church are all in good health. As Bishop Hoagland said in his address, “We are well on the way to taking more intentional control of our ministries instead of waiting for things to break. We are now more proactive than reactive, all pointing to greater health within the diocese.” More importantly than that, however, was the reminder that love has the power to change lives and the world. Bishops Curry, Hoagland, and Wright all reminded us that we have the responsibility as Christians to practice the way of love in every aspect of our lives. Bishop Hoagland ended his message by saying “If we don’t make this move, who will?” By moving deeper, we can create real change in our lives, in our church, and in our world.