Thoughts on Diocesan Conventions

I have mixed feelings about diocesan conventions. We just got home from one, and, on the whole, it was a wonderful weekend. By weekend I mean a convention that begins early on Friday afternoon, continues all day Saturday, has a gala banquet Saturday evening, and ends with yet another general session on Sunday morning followed by the Holy Eucharist and final adjournment about Noon or a bit later. Our custom is to alternate sites between the cathedral in Spokane and some other community in the diocese. This weekend we met in Lewiston, Idaho, and the parishes of the region did a terrific job of making arrangements and offering hospitality. I love the fellowship and worship, but I’m less enthusiastic about the formality of our processes. I very much enjoy reconnecting with clergy and lay leaders all across the diocese, renewing old friendships and making new ones. As a high index introvert, there are limits to how much mingling appeals to me. As much as possible I prefer quiet conversations in small groups, but I’ve learned the skills needed to survive in large venues. However, I wonder if a small, rural diocese such as ours needs all the formality of our processes that include chairs of dispatch and credentials making their frequent but generally unnecessary reports. I wonder if we need to set aside hours for proper Robert’s Rules organizing when we get it all done in forty-five minutes and then sit around for an hour or so wondering what to do until the next scheduled session. I suppose it would be different if we had thousands of delegates and many controversial issues to debate. We have neither. As it is, when one counts all the clergy, lay delegates, spouses, visitors and staff there might be two or three-hundred of us – maybe. As a practical matter, we could get all our business done in a single day with a lot of time left over. As a matter of fellowship and worship, we need more time to gather in community. Maybe we should give up on credentials and dispatch and spend more time in community. It’s a curious problem.

12 thoughts on “Thoughts on Diocesan Conventions”

  1. We have much the same issues. Most of our business can get done in a day, and there's a move to make convention a one day event.The problem with that, though, is that no matter where we hold convention, you have some people still driving up to 7 hours to get there.I'd be okay with a business day (or half-day), and getting reconnected in and around worship the rest of the time.

  2. Before I forget to ask: You probably met two clergywomen at the Spokane diocesan convention that are from the Utah diocese originally. They are MaryBeth Rizzetti (spelling?), whose husband died recently, after a very long period of illness. She gave me her old Latin textbooks when she no longer taught Classics. The other was Elaine Howlett, since married and with a different surname. She is the daughter of Father Ed Howlett, now retired, who knew me from years ago. Elaine knows my wife Cheryl, also, from the time both were at the University of Utah. I've lost touch with where their parishes are in this diocese, and have not seen either of them since I have lived here in Washington. Dr B

  3. P.S. See my long boring comments on Greek signs on your blog \”It Was All Greek To Me\”. Dr B

  4. I resonate with your comments here, particularly about the introvert issue. Big churchy meetings have just never appealed to me. Small groups with conversation and community are so much better.Peace to you today.

  5. Maybe there has to be an official get-together formality in order to make the meeting \”important enough\” to attend. If it was just all social there would be those declaring they are too busy for social time. Yet, the social (the \”I've been praying for you, how's your spouse after surgery, how's your parish after whatever, how are you after your crisis, etc.) seems to trump everything after a long weekend of legislation, small group discussion, etc. but it wouldn't have happened without the insistance on attendance for the important issues at hand…….

  6. Thinking about this a little more . . . could it be that the formality of it all helps us behave ourselves?If there are certain protocols we must adhere to, are we less likely to devolve into budgetary shouting matches?Just a thought.

  7. LOLThis is apparently becoming a part of my skill set. I have more than a few parishioners who like to \”harummpf\” about almost everything, so I'm continuing to learn how to keep them from harummpfing too often.

  8. I think the time has come for us to ask seriously if we need, or can afford, a three day convention every year. Why not an every other year set up with year 1 consisting of a one day business meeting and year 2 focus on programs – lots of workshops that appeal to a wide range of folks in the pews, from stewardship, christian formation, vestry leadership, training for licensed ministries etc. we really need to ask why we are doing this and what we are trying to accomplish and if there is a better way.

  9. seems to be an issue that needs some discussion, maybe we should through it out on the clergy list. I'm sure someone would tell us that by canons we need a convention every year, which I am fine with, just what type do we need?

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