I was privileged to attend General Convention as the spouse of your Assistant Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Joe G. Burnett. I enjoyed meeting the members of the Maryland deputation and participating in a variety of activities.
Programs are scheduled throughout the week for spouses/partners of bishops, including a luncheon where new members of the community are welcomed and retiring members are honored. This year’s luncheon was held at the Eiteljorg Museum, which features a fine collection of western and Native American art.
As a church musician, I always enjoy the worship at General Convention. We were graced with inspiring music from local parish musicians, organ and brass, a 200-voice diocesan choir, a marvelous Native American flutist from Idaho, and a gifted Latino guitarist and cantor from California. Singing hymns in harmony with several thousand Episcopalians is great fun! The Integrity Eucharist is another high point of every Convention with vibrant singing and excellent preaching.
In addition to legislative sessions, General Convention is part family reunion and part marketplace. Wandering through exhibit hall each day provides an opportunity to greet friends from across the USA and around the world. In addition to booths promoting church-related organizations and causes, there are vendors selling vestments, books, art, jewelry, and crafts. Many of these merchants promote fair trade and support various charities. Purchases this year included a wall hanging and shawls from Jerusalem, pottery from Louisiana, a pendant from China, books, and an Episcopal dog collar. In addition, everyone leaves General Convention with a collection of “freebies” – pens, pencils, buttons, tote bags, water bottles, and hats.
There are opportunities to volunteer throughout Convention, and visitors’ galleries are available in both the House of Deputies and House of Bishops. It is fascinating to observe the legislative process at work and to witness historic votes on important issues.
If you have never been to General Convention, I encourage you to consider attending. Anyone can register as a visitor, and volunteers are always needed. The energy and vitality of the Episcopal Church will astound you, and you will leave with a renewed vision for mission and ministry.
Marty Wheeler Burnett