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GC2009: Reflection by Anne Kitch

The work of Convention is ongoing
By Anne E. Kitch

Becoming a Christian takes a life-time. Once baptized, we are continually in the process of growing into the full stature of Christ. Thus, even as a cradle Episcopalian steeped in the traditions and practices of this church, my faith was formed and informed by my experience at the 76th General Convention.

This was not my first General Convention. I first attended in 1979 as part of the youth presence. I remember advocating loudly for all sorts of progressive ideas, collecting buttons and new acquaintances in the Exhibit Hall, and being transported to spiritual heights by an incredible Eucharist.

Now I have attended my first General Convention as a deputy of my diocese. It was an overwhelming and intense experience as it had been many years ago, but the highlights were different. Being one of 832 deputies who worked tirelessly day after day on the floor of the house of deputies was to see the church in a whole new light. I have been the recipient and beneficiary of the work of the General Convention all my life. Now I have engaged as a participant in the amazing work of bringing life to the structure of our church. It is an honor to be an elected deputy from the Diocese of Bethlehem and to serve this Diocese in this manner.

As a legislative body, the House of Deputies prayerfully and faithfully considered the 419 resolutions that had been submitted by Dioceses, Bishops, Deputies, or Standing Commissions, Committees, Agencies and Boards. We completed action on 361 of these; those remaining are now in the hands of the appropriate committees or commissions who will consider them over the next triennium. There were resolutions about peace and justice, about our commitment to full communion with the Moravian church along with other ecumenical efforts, about how we worship, and about our mission and ministry to the world at large.

I listened attentively: to debates on the floor, sermons, meditations and prayers, the work of committees, discussions within our deputation, and presentations by visitors from around the Anglican Communion. I listened to young adults express their faith and their concerns for our church. I listened to deputies from other countries share their passion about issues that were new to me. I listened to people whose opinions on vital matters differed from mine. As I listened, I experienced my understanding of who we are as the Episcopal Church expand. And I felt the call to be even more involved, even more committed to live deeply into a life in Christ.

While General Convention meets for 10 days every three years, the work of Convention is ongoing. President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson emphasized that we function as deputes the entire time of our three-year term. We are a link between the dioceses and the whole body of our church.
I have gained a deep appreciation for the intricate way in which we, as the Episcopal Church, discern God’s will for us. Regardless of political maneuvering, legislative process, or personal posturing, that is what it is all about. People who love God and are called to follow Christ meet together and invoke the Holy Spirit in order to see the way forward to living into our baptisms, to growing into the full stature of Christ. Not only as individuals, but also as a Church. It is imperfect. Nevertheless it is the work we are called to do. It takes a lifetime to become a Christian; it takes millennia to become the Church. Thank goodness we are always in God’s hands.

[The Rev. Canon Anne E. Kitch, akitch@diobeth.org, Canon for Formation in the Christian Faith for the Diocese of Bethlehem, served as chair of the Bethlehem deputation at General Convention. This was her first time as an elected deputy.]

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