Religion is reconnection. Religion is the reconnection of God to people and a reconnection of people to people. The future of the world is understanding the holy connection each person has to each other in that creation.
A piece of reconnection is the truth of disconnection or separation. Connection and separation are a part of each person’s daily life. This can be an acute or chronic reality. For the church community these qualities can be life giving or debilitating. Those people who have a sense of connection or belonging manage the day to day struggles with a confidence that others are with them. Those who feel cut off, distant, or alone in their daily living suffer mightily.
What a gift a General Convention is for a group of people who feel cut off from the greater church. For a few days every three years there is a reminder of the connection that the mission of the Episcopal Church shares. A connection of people from Connecticut to Haiti, Maine to Arizona, the United States to England, Africa, Japan and everywhere in between. To borrow and rework an old phrase, the sun does not set on the Anglican communion. A better thought, the sun always rises on every part of the Anglican communion. Everyday is a new day for the mission of the church. A new opportunity for connection.
A difficult truth is the loneliness many feel in the mission of the church. With an average Sunday attendance in the United States of sixty-one people and an average age of fifty-seven, many lay people and clergy feel a sense of isolation from the work of the church. What General Convention does is remind the church of its connection to itself. Isolation is set aside for a reminder and a manifestation of the body of Jesus Christ in the work of the Episcopal church.
The future of the church is to imagine a way to use the vast opportunity of connection in the modern world to the advantage of the mission of Jesus. Social media is simply the beginning and does not go far enough. FaceTime and Skype are only two dimensions. A clever website is good, but also not enough. It is the real time gatherings that are the body of Christ, and the church. Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly gatherings is the blood flow of the mission. Human to human connection is necessary since humans are hard wired for belonging.
Wander into the General Convention’s exhibit hall and there is a host of connection on display from seminaries and curriculum ideas to mission trip opportunities in West Virginia and the world. To connect and witness the larger church in action is truly the gift of the gathering. Often legislation, resolutions, and societal hand-wringing bring a separating quality to the work of the convention. To see the future, see the exhibits. Those who are attending this 78th General Convention connect and bring back to their distinct communities the future possibilities of the whole connected church and its mission to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus. This Gospel is about connection – the hand in hand strength of a body set to connect the world to God.