Looking out, gazing in

July 6, 2009

Ever been at one end of a public park, in the warm haze of summer, when a big family picnic is going on way down at the other end? You can almost smell the burgers grilling, see what seems to be a Frisbee being thrown around, but not quite hear the talk and laughter.

News of the first General Convention, held in Philadelphia in the fall of 1785, probably took weeks to distribute to the Episcopal churches in the seven states represented. Never mind even dimly seeing that picnic; you only got to hear about it when winter was closing in.

This July, if you're not actually in Anaheim, Calif., for the 76th General Convention, you nevertheless can come fairly close to experiencing it remotely through the work of the Episcopal Life Media (ELM) reporting team, the communications office and the instant reach of the Internet. Up-to-the-minute news stories, features and photo galleries will be posted in the General Convention section of http://www.episcopalchurch.org/library.

Episcopal Life coverage also can be accessed through the inaugural "media hub," which provides a calendar of convention events; live video coverage, including worship and special events; blogs; photos and links to instant comments on Twitter and FaceBook.

Episcopal Life's involvement began even before the start of convention with the production of the Guide to General Convention. This year, due to remarkable support from advertisers, it runs 52 pages and gives attendees a head start on where they need to go and what they might want to see. Episcopal Life has also included a link to a PDF file of the guide in the General Convention news section.

In Anaheim, even before the official start of convention on July 8, Episcopal Life Online is bringing news of such early events as meetings of the Program, Budget and Finance Committee and presentations from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson.

With a 13-person team in Anaheim, we will provide a comprehensive look at the range of convention activities, from business to worship to special events to fun. The team will produce 11 issues of a Convention Daily newspaper, with the first issue appearing on July 8 and the final one on July 18. They will be posted as PDF files and may be downloaded and printed for archival, presentation or informational uses.

The team includes Matt Davies, Mary Frances Schjonberg and Lynette Wilson from ELM staff; Pat McCaughan and Janet Kawamoto, who usually divide their time between ELM and the Diocese of Los Angeles; Sharon Tillman from the Diocese of Maryland; Melodie Woerman from the Diocese of Kansas; Jim DeLa from the Diocese of Southwest Florida; Jerald Hyche from the Diocese of Texas; Sharon Sheridan from the Diocese of Newark; Art Director Linda Brooks; and Web Content Coordinator Alex Dyer from the Diocese of Connecticut.

The Internet has empowered a great many voices. Episcopal Life coverage will reflect the range of voices at convention, from the Archbishop of Canterbury to first-time deputies, in a compact, easy-to-access format. It will be a wrapup for the time-pressured, an authoritative report with lively writing for those looking for reading pleasure.

Come to the picnic. We're spreading out the tablecloth for you.

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