Four months before the July 30 opening of the 74th General Convention in Minneapolis, 'We are in good shape,' according to the Rev. Rosemari Sullivan, secretary and executive officer of the General Convention Office. 'The legislative software is ready, we are receiving resolutions, and the pieces for worship and special events are falling into place.'
She said that there are a few more resolutions pre-filed in the Blue Book (which contains the reports of the committees, commissions, boards and agencies of the church) this year because 'of the energy developed in the 20/20 initiative' to increase membership and participation in church life. There are 158 resolutions in the Blue Book, which will be available soon with a variety of other resources by links at the church's web site at www.episcopalchurch.org. A special web site for the convention itself is nearing completion and will provide information and news coverage at http://archive.episcopalchurch.org/gcdaily.htm.
The Rev. George Werner, president of the House of Deputies, has also released the list of 531 appointments to legislative committees, although the list won't be final until people have accepted their assignments. He said that great care has been taken to make balanced appointments to create what he calls 'a 10,000-piece jigsaw of a Picasso abstract.' Among the priorities in the procedure were finding young deputies, those with experience and continuity but also diversity and geographical representation, as well as those with special talents. 'I sought people who were passionate but more than one-dimensional,' he said.
Theme of reconciliation
The theme of the convention, 'Engage God's Mission,' is based on an emphasis on reconciliation developed by Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold at the last General Convention and expanded during interim meetings and retreats of the House of Bishops. The four sub-themes will be 'receive, repent, reconcile and restore.' Banners in the worship space and the exhibit area will keep the theme in front of participants and visitors.
On July 30, the opening night of the convention, deputies and bishops will be offered an opportunity to discuss the events and trends that have affected the church in the past three years in conversations on five different topics: Christian hope in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks; Muslims, Christians and Jews, a way for the three religions to work together; War and Peace, looking at the ethical implications; A Different Drum, a look at how the 20/20 movement challenges us to grow and flourish; Receive, Repent, Reconcile and Restore, a look at new ways to become communities of forgiveness and healing in light of these ethical imperatives; and Jubilee Ministries, being developed by the Rev. Carmen Guerrero.
Gathering at the table
In a pattern developed at recent General Conventions, the day will begin with Eucharist and Bible study around tables--and the main altar will be a round table, 'reminding us of the Sacred Circle that is central to Native spirituality,' according to the Rev. Clay Morris, the church's liturgical officer. 'The Episcopal Church and the Visual Arts is gathering images that will be projected onto a scrim behind the altar platform at each occasion of worship.'
Worship will blend the variety of cultural expressions in the church, including the use of the six languages of the Book of Common Prayer--English, Spanish, French, Italian, Korean and soon Mandarin Chinese. All worship materials will be available in English and Spanish. Both traditional and experimental forms will be used for Morning Prayer. A labyrinth will be cut into the grass of a park just outside the Minneapolis Convention Center.
August 1 will be a Day of Prayer. The presiding bishop will preach at a Service of the Word and the morning will feature three workshops on the theme of reconciliation with Bishop Chet Talton, the Rev. Malcolm Boyd, Horace Boyer and the Rev. Ernesto Medina.
In recognition of the host Diocese of Minnesota, August 5 will celebrate the witness of Enmegahbowh, a Minnesota Ojibway who the first Native American priest to be ordained by the Episcopal Church.
In the meantime, Sullivan is studying a 'helpful visitor's guide' sent to her by a deputy from Minnesota: 'How to Talk Minnesotan.'