This is my first General Convention and I am blessed to be attending as part of the Young Adult Festival. For the last three conventions the Young Adult festival has allowed people between the ages of 18-30 to engage fully in the workings of GC while also creating a space to make connections with other young adults and process the events of the convention within that community. The Church has affirmed the presence of youth and young adults in its midst and committed to grow these valuable ministries. It is wonderful to have our Church body recognize the integral role that the younger generations play in the life and work of the church NOW and not only in the distant future. Finally, our ideas, our sense of mission and our leadership is being recognized as significant and determinative of what kind of body we, as a church, are and will be in the twenty-first century.
That being said it is an equally exciting and necessary part my own formation as a young adult leader in the church, and the future of our church as a whole, to learn from and listen to those members and leaders with more experience, wisdom and history. I have learned so much in just the first two days and I am so grateful to our delegates and senior delegates for their patience with me as I learn the deeper nuances of our church’s polity, politics, power struggles and prayerful presence. This is an exciting and somewhat scary time for our Church where much is changing and needs to change as we respond to the realities we find ourselves in. So far I have been impressed with the civility of the process and how kind and respectful everyone is being to one other, even as they disagree. Sure there are those struggling with fear; perhaps we each are in our own way. Yet my experience is that in a broad sense we are intending to stand in a place of hope and not fear. The church has big and important business to do over these ten days. The love and passion that people have for the Church and the work of God in the world, even amidst disagreements over how it should be done, is heartwarming and encouraging. I am finding myself proud of our Church and hopeful for our future. We are facing the uncertain future together, honestly and with focused, prayerful discernment on where God is calling us to go and who God is calling us to be in this new day. We are striving to claim who we are- the people of God- and owning who we are, what we know and what we don’t know, our strengths and our failings. The first night of the Young Adult Festival our organizers shared that in planning our time together the theme emerged of “own it!” Own who we are as a young leaders and seekers in the Church. Own who we are as Episcopalians, who we are as Christians and who we are as followers of Jesus seeking to live out God’s call together to bring the kin-dom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
The Rev. Canon Sara L. Shisler