How things get done

A post from Massachusetts alternate deputy Kathy McAdams:

What a great place to visit!

I felt pretty neutral about visiting Indianapolis, though I have been looking forward to General Convention for some time. However, when I woke up on Tuesday morning and went out in search of a walking trail, I found many. Having just spruced up for the Superbowl earlier this year, Indy has a great downtown area. It’s very bike/pedestrian/wheelchair friendly, or at least it appears that way. Each day, I’ve walked along the White River, and enjoyed outdoor art installations and natural beauty (I’m going to get a picture of that blue heron before I leave!). In addition, there are museums, a zoo, concert and sports venues, university campuses and parks, all right in the downtown area. The convention center connects to many hotels and a shopping mall via skywalks, so we don’t even have to go outside if we don’t want to, but I enjoy getting out, in spite of the record temperatures (103 today).

This really is a family reunion of the church! I’m having a blast connecting with seminary classmates and people I know from other parts of the country. I even ran into a woman who spent some time at my parish in Palo Alto, Calif. She lives in Italy, and is at General Convention representing the American Churches in Europe. We first met on 9/11/01 when she walked into my church seeking solace, then spent about six months with us. We recollected that infamous day together. It’s great to be in the company of our own DioMass bishops and deputation – led by Rep. Byron Rushing and the Rev. Jane Gould. We get together each evening to share info about what each of us has witnessed that day, and where support is needed for issues that we’re following. I’m also hoping to gather folks from other street churches around the country for a confab.

In addition to being the fourth clergy alternate in the DioMass deputation, I travelled to General Convention to work at the Mission Programs booth of the “national” church–not really a good label, since the Episcopal Church extends to other countries and provinces–since I’ve been working with the Domestic Poverty Alleviation Initiative. When I got here, I discovered that they have quite a number of staff and volunteers from the many programs involved, so I was only scheduled for one 2-hour shift during the whole convention. I did decide to jump in and help set up the booth after I arrived on Monday. And while I enjoy the luxury of being able to wander around to various committee meetings, and events (UBE, Integrity, Indigenous Ministries, Episcopal Women’s Caucus, my seminary: CDSP, etc.), or to watch the proceedings in the House of Deputies and House of Bishops, I was afraid I’d get bored, so I sent a message to Byron and Jane, letting them know that I had time on my hands.

It wasn’t long till Byron responded that there was a legislative aide position open –someone had been unable to attend at the last minute. I gladly accepted, and was assigned to assist the Church Pension Committee. It wouldn’t have been my first choice, as there is other subject matter much more interesting to me–such as Social and Urban Concerns, or Evangelism–but the committee is chaired by a wonderful lay woman from Worcester (Dr. Sandra Harmon-Hines) whom I had just seen honored by the Union of Black Episcopalians the night before I met her. In addition, the members of the committee work well together, and have managed to sort through lots of details with patience and civility. They listen well to each other, as well as to the folks who have testified at the hearings, and have managed to boil down 11 resolutions into two that are coherent and (I think) fair. My job is to schedule hearings and deliberations, so that interested parties will know when to attend; to shuffle papers around between offices; to make changes to resolutions projected on the wall as they are discussing them; and to shoo people out of the gallery when they go into executive session – not too taxing, but I’m learning so much about the process of General Convention and how things get done. Aside from being a little tired, I’m quite excited to be here!

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