What Happens At Convention Doesn’t Have To Stay At Convention

Gary Allman Five-minute read.   Resources

Bishop Marty (probably ill-advisedly) called on the rather rumpled looking Communications Director to speak. Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

As you’d expect, this post-convention issue of Spirit has several articles about the diocesan convention and the ongoing work and planning to improve, build, and fund the ‘Episcopal Branch of The Jesus Movement in West Missouri’ aka The Diocese of West Missouri.

Some of the Diocesan Staff Working Behind the Scenes at Convention L-R Gary Allman, Communications Director. Emily Davenport, Bishop’s Executive Assistant. Angela Crawford, Events-Communications Assistant. Image credit: Gary Zumwalt

For many people, the workings of convention and the diocese (and even the necessity of the diocesan structure) remains something of a mystery.  While things keep going and ‘Church happens’ every Sunday it’s easy to metaphorically snooze in the back pews and ignore the details and workings of ‘The Church’ beyond one’s own church’s horizon. Until, that is, something happens, a change in direction or an unexpected decision impacts your favorite ministry. Such things may appear to come as a bolt from the blue, but that’s far from the truth. There are discussions, meetings, proposals, counter-proposals and voting. The majority of the initiatives originate at a deanery or council level, from the representatives that you elect at your church’s annual meeting. Have you ever asked your deanery representative, or diocesan convention delegate what they do, what’s discussed? In an ideal world, they will report back to you via your church’s newsletter or magazine. Unfortunately, your often hard-pressed volunteers don’t have time to do so.

I believe it is worth investing your time to find out more about how we in The Episcopal Church manage ourselves, and how and why things change.  This is especially relevant next year as in July the 79th General Convention of The Episcopal Church takes place in Austin Texas.  It’s far too easy to complain about this or that decision after the event, but what about making sure you prime your various representatives on your thoughts, so that they can better represent you before decisions and votes are taken? Needless to say, one way to find out what’s going on within the 48 churches that makes up the diocese is to read the summaries of the diocesan convention and the findings to-date of the Council Work Groups, and whether you agree or disagree, contact your church’s representatives and make your voice heard.

Each diocesan convention and the following year has a theme. For the past five years, the theme has centered around our five baptismal covenants. This year, Bishop Marty introduced the theme: “Called in. Sent out. Building a Community of Purpose.” This concept builds on the work leading up to the Presiding Bishop’s visit last May and looks to build and consolidate the work of the diocese as a parish in its own right. You can read more about Bishop Marty’s vision here.

Convention is not all facts, figures, and discussion. Mike McDonnell (St. George, Camdenton) brings a very personal look at the proceedings, which includes the wonderfully honest phrase “absolutely mind-numbingly excruciating”. You’ll have to read his article to find out what he was referring to and discover the deep emotions that were stirred.

One of the great things about being Communications Director is the privilege of being present and able to help document key transitions in the lives of the people of West Missouri. In the run-up to the diocesan convention, I attended two area confirmation services. The first was at St. John’s, Springfield, and the second was at St. Mary’s, Kansas City. Then in early December, I was present when Fr. Jos Tharakan was installed as Rector at St. James’ Springfield, and two days later at All Saints’, Nevada when Fr. Jim Lyle was installed as Rector. Unfortunately, I missed the two (yes, two) installations of Mtr. Anne Kyle, one as Pastor to Christ and Trinity Lutheran Church, Sedalia,  and the second as rector to Calvary Episcopal Church, Sedalia. I also missed the installation of my EfM class-mate and alumna  Mtr. Laura Hughes as rector of St. George in Camdenton.

As the end of the calendar year draws nigh it’s traditional to have a little bit of introspection and reflection on the past year. Here is a small selection of some of my favorite memories from the 1,000+ pictures I took during my travels around the diocese this year. Enjoy.

Gary Allman is Communications Director with The Diocese of West Missouri.

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Gary Allman

Gary Allman is the Director of Communications at The Diocese of West Missouri

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