Like Congress, General Convention is a bicameral legislative system. Can our deputies and bishops transcend the partisan identities of our nation to be a witness to working together for the Kingdom of God?
Among peers, there is heated division in our nation across political party lines. I have many “open-minded” Democratic friends who are closed off to all Republicans and Republican peers. Party identities have, in many circles, prohibited relationships from forming through lack of recognition of people beyond their liberal or conservative politics. Many working for “a better tomorrow” only seem to imagine it in a blue or red color scheme rather than seeing something more inclusive and, ultimately, more loving.
I am hopeful that we, as the Episcopal Church with one of the largest bicameral legislative structures in the world, can behave differently and with more love than the example set for us by our federal government and those who fall into their blinding partisan identities. General Convention 2018 could be a witness to what this more loving way could look like.
I attend a church with Republicans and Democrats. We pray in pews together; we get bored in pews together. We sound good singing together, and we help serve those in need together. I am grateful for discovering that I share with my brothers and sisters in Christ who are of a different political persuasion a vision of something infinitely greater than how the United States is governed. The gift of our shared faith and of the Church is that we are called beyond all other loyalties to work together for the Kingdom of God. We agree that today’s political issues matter as we strive for justice and peace, but we pray that we might cling to our ideologies and our power less tightly than we cling to each other, growing in love for one another and for the world around us. This is an invaluably rich gift to me today.
The Episcopal Church is made up of different people with different political perspectives, and I believe we can be a Christ-filled witness to the world even, and right now especially as we come together in our formal legislative structure. General Convention can witness to a better way of moving forward than what our partisan culture shows us. Those of us in the church and those outside it need to see a more hopeful way of organizing ourselves.
At General Convention, people of many different world-views sit together and try to decide what is the most Christ-like action for our church and for our time. Every person in that deliberating body matters. This is where we really can be a light to the world. There is no winning or losing at General Convention—there is only living more fully as the Body of Christ or not. If we, as a church and as individuals, do not love more at the end of these days together then we are no different than the world around us. That is not the witness Christ compels us to be.
I am hopeful for what the Episcopal Church can be. We can be a church that takes the side of Christ and love rather than political party. We can make a difference together if we let the love of Christ lead us and not our political ideologies, preconceived agendas, or drive for power. We are about more than that.
The world needs to see, even in small ways, that there is a way of being together and being structured that is led by hope, dignity, and love, where our differences and divisions are the most important part of our identity.
I think we must do and be this for the world today.
The shared vision of our church is the Kingdom of God; we have glimpsed that for which we aim. If our differences and divisions are stronger than this vision, we have not lived up to our calling as Christ’s body in the world.
So, deputies, bishops, and all those involved with and praying for this General Convention, be reminded you can be a light to the world we need right now. You can be a witness of the Holy Spirit alive and moving even in the most unlikely places—a bicameral legislative system—with God’s help.