I’ve just arrived in Salt Lake City for the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church. I am one of the four clergy deputies from New Hampshire. For the next 12 days we will worship and pray, meet and talk, vote and plan about God’s purpose for our denomination.
Salt Lake City is also the home of the Mormon Temple and it’s not far from our convention center. At the end of June, young Mormons come here at the conclusion of their mission time. Our airplane was full of Episcopal priests in collars and young men in white shirts, dark ties and name tags. Different faiths but the same hope to share God’s good news with others.
Coming down the escalator, the baggage claim was packed with families welcoming home their missionaries. Balloons, banners, cheering and crying were everywhere. I have a sense of “holy envy” that every church be able to value its young adults this much.
After settling in, I picked up my credentials to vote. For the first time, this General Convention will be near-paperless. I was issued an iPad with a “virtual binder” full of resolutions. I also got a “voting card” with an RFID chip on it. They’ll tell me how it all works tomorrow. There is also an app with worship bulletins, seating charts, schedules, maps and everything else you could want to navigate.
The Salt Palace convention center is enormous and takes time to walk around. So, I searched out the House of Deputies and found the New Hampshire seats. We are seated almost randomly around and this year we share a table with the diocese of Texas. Right now the room is quiet and cool but tomorrow it’ll be a hotbed of deputies.
I also hunted down the room for my Committee (#15: Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations). It’s a long, winding hike to get so I’ll be getting my exercise this week. In half an hour we have our first Committee meeting, mostly introductions and orientation. Then: dinner.
The real business starts tomorrow!