Earlier in June, in preparation for the 79th General Convention, the elected deputies and bishops representing dioceses in Province IV gathered at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina. The meeting was, in part, an orientation to the General Convention and thus included lots of reports, several speeches, some debate, and a few votes. So, in the end, it was also a warm-up to the arduous schedule before our church in Austin Texas.
For me, the highlight of the synod meeting was when Presiding Bishop Michael Curry addressed us. After acknowledging the necessary legislative and fiduciary responsibilities of the General Convention, he joked about the rhythm and demands of the laborious days ahead. Once the laughter died down, he went on to redirect us to a far more inspiring vision.
Presiding Bishop Curry retold a conversation he had with a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent as he traveled to one of these pre-convention province gatherings. The TSA agent recognized Curry’s purple shirt from his own Pentecostal tradition of bishops. When Curry explained that he was on his way to a church meeting, the TSA agent wished Curry “a holy convocation.” From there, Curry challenged us to see our work as just that - a holy convocation. He referred to the prophet Joel by saying that at the General Convention, “We will gather as a holy convocation.” He continued, “We gather for inspiration. We gather for education. We gather for formation. We gather for transformation. We gather because Jesus Christ is calling us. We will gather in His name. He will be there.” Curry went on to say that the General Convention is a way “that the village listens for, discerns, and finds its voice on important issues.”