Where your treasure is…

… there your heart will be also.

There is a committee at General Convention that is so important to the functioning of the church that is both courted and cursed by everyone. Truly, a Love-Hate relationship exists with the Program, Budget, and Finance Committee – affectionately knows as PB&F. We all know that funding is necessary for the work of the church and everyone is vying for a their share of the available funds.

At the very start of convention a hearing was held with PB&F where people could speak about the importance of their ministry, their mission, their heartfelt vocation to do God’s will in the world. People stood before PB&F and said, “Here is where my heart is…” and the response that everyone desires is – The Episcopal Church’s will put its treasure where my heart is.

Many wonderful resolutions come before the convention, even get voted in the affirmative, but unless PB&F decides to allocate funding in that line item, the resolution can lie dormant, unable to be acted on. Our hearts may be there, but our treasure is not. Here is where hearts break and we struggle not to curse PB&F. No one envies their job, and everyone wants to be tucked under the wing of the budget.

Two heartfelt missions were repeated over and over during the hearing with PB&F
1. Ministry with and for Indigenous Peoples
2. Ministry with Youth and Young Adults
The testimony was impassioned, heartfelt, and all of our hearts went out for more youth ministry, funding for the Episcopal Youth Event, money for campus ministries, money for Episcopal ministry on reservations, Asset Based Community Development to empower the “Native” Americans who have had so much taken from them since this land was taken over and colonized.

It remains to be seen where our treasure will be allocated. But every day people are sharing more and more of their hearts with each other in the hopes that the church’s treasure will find its way into our heartfelt ministries.

Stay tuned…

Breathe

Breathe. Take a moment to feel your own breath. Take a moment to feel your spirit connecting with God. Take a moment before the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church shifts into overdrive and the hectic rush of committee hearings and legislative sessions make you forget that God is at work here in Indianapolis.  Breathe. That’s what Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori advised us.

“Breathe deep for the spirit is blowing a fresh wind,” she said. “Breathe deep and be not afraid.”

Our time here gives us a chance to confront some of those fears that pulse through the Episcopal Church, those whispered voices that speak of a diminished life when we all know God is having none of that. Behold, I am doing a new thing! The Holy Trinity has thrown down an old-fashioned challenge, forcing us to rethink who we are in the 21st century. Nothing new there. Our forefathers and mothers did the same thing, century after century. And here we are again.

This time around we’re talking about possibly changing our Church’s structure. There’s an upcoming discussion on the idea of having an “open table,” allowing anyone, regardless of age, denomination, or baptism, to receive Holy Communion. That kind of talk can take your breath away. You might start hyperventilating. You might forget to breathe.

In her opening address, Canon Bonnie Anderson, President of the House of Deputies, suggested we see our time together as a nine-day Bible study. We’ve another chance to consider how the institutional church can become “the people of God church.”

This is no time to sink ourselves in false dichotomies and either-or questions: Are we for mission, or governance. We need both. We need the prayers and taize chants, along with a dose of decorum and order.

And so we breathe and do our part to make sure our Church continues to be God’s beating heart in the world.

– The Rev. M. Dion Thompson