President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson paid a visit to the ECW Triennial July 14, calling it a chance for her to take a respite from her work and check herself against an internal question: "Am I keeping my eye on the prize here?"
The prize to which she refers -- because she believes that God dreams about us -- is that in "God's dream ... we are all in peaceful relationship with each other. We are whole and happy; the lions lie down with the lambs. There is enough to eat for everyone. (It's) the world as it should be -- a world reconciled, as God made it."
Anderson described herself as "profoundly fortunate" to be with triennial delegates -- "honored, in fact. I rejoice in our relationship. I thank you for your always kind and hospitable ways."
To describe her desire to be about the work of "understanding and acting on the urgency of mission," Anderson told the women a story from her past.
"Once upon a time I was a young mother. Like many of you, I imagine, I was busy with my family. I had received a scholarship for some graduate work at the University of Michigan. I was juggling it all.
"Around the time when our oldest daughter, Devon, was 16, she was asked to be one of a handful of youth to represent the Episcopal Church at the Inter-
Anglican Youth Event in Belfast, Ireland. The ECW in our diocese," Anderson noted, "heard about it and gave Devon some money so she could have a bit extra on the trip. They prayed for her daily, and when she came back they all met together and she told them about her trip."
Years later Devon was sponsored by their local parish and went to seminary. "She was home and was attending some kind of diocesan function, and the ECW chairperson, who Devon did not know, came up to her, took her hand and told her that the ECW wanted to support her.
"Throughout seminary they sent her some checks along the way -- never planned, never anticipated." They weren't for large amounts, but to Devon they made a huge difference in her sense of being supported and loved by her home diocese.
"so why am I telling you this?" Anderson asked. "It struck me, as I was preparing my remarks, that there is some depth of relationship in the very nature of daughters. First, all of us have been daughters. Some among us today have been or are mothers to daughters, (and we can extend) the relationship a bit also toward biological sisters and friends who are so close we call them sisters."
She gave a nod to "the devoted and faithful work" of sisters Julia Chester Emery, Mary Abbot Emery, Susan Lavinia Emery and Margaret Theresa Emery, all "early pioneers for women in the life of the church."
Anderson closed with a reflection from daughter Devon, who is now serving as a deputy from the Diocese of Minnesota and has just started as the new executive director of Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation: "At the last triennial Meeting of the ECW in 2006," Devon wrote, "I was invited to give a penitential rite, using stones and water. One of the women played music while we were practicing the rite and it was lovely. It was so natural and added so much." Anderson continued, "'Mom,'" she said to me, 'These women are my heroes. They don't talk about the MDGs, they do the MDGs. I cannot wait to work with them in this coming triennium. I love them.'"
The deputies' leader said, "Thank you. Thank you for your faithfulness, for your long-lived history as the episcopal Church Women. Thank you for all that you do for God's church.
"Thank you for being you and for reminding us that we are part of something that passes all understanding and that we are living this wonderful, joyful mystery of God together."