As I sat listening to the conversation, I worked hard to connect the dots. I completely understood the conversation. What I was not as clear about, however, was its relevance to those that I felt deeply called to serve. With some trepidation I spoke up, “Could someone please help me understand how this impacts Mrs. Latta?” This small group of the absolute top of the national Episcopal Church leadership looked at me with bewilderment. I continued, “Mrs. Latta is the head of the Altar Guild in the faith community where I serve, and if I can’t somehow, even remotely, figure out how this impacts her life, then frankly I am not clear why we would be discussing it.” Through the years, those who I was blessed to serve with at that and many other levels of the Church, including within ECMN, have all become familiar with Mrs. Latta.
In the end, it is not literally about Mrs. Latta per se. Though she is a very real friend of mine and parishioner from the faith community where I previously served, she is also the icon that I keep at the forefront of where I fundamentally believe the work of the Gospel takes place. As I navigate through our sacred story, it is unequivocally clear to me that the transformation that God calls us to happens in the local community. From the patriarchs and matriarchs to the prophets, from those early followers of Jesus to the faith communities in Ephesus; Galatia and Corinth coming to a deeper understanding of the Holy people they were called to be, took place in the context of community.
This foundational understanding of transformation is why we describe ECMN as A network of faith communities called to transformation by engaging God’s mission. It is also why the focus of your team of Missioners, and those who serve on your elected bodies, is to assist our faith communities in getting the resources they need to engage God’s mission in their neighborhoods and communities.
In a little over a month and a half, The Episcopal Church will be gathering in Salt Lake City for our triennial meeting known as General Convention. I have been a part of this Church-wide meeting since the early 80’s. During this timeframe, I have served in a variety of capacities: lay, ordained, House of Deputies, and House of Bishops. This year we will elect a new Presiding Bishop, discuss and debate topics such as our structure, social justice issues, and what is liturgically permissible, and we will do all this in the context of prayer. It’s a fascinating macrocosm experience of the Church. And yet, in the end, it is with hope that the focus will be on the microcosm – our local faith communities.
You have elected a very bright and talented cadre of lay and ordained individuals from ECMN to serve you at General Convention. Every one of them is active in one of our local faith communities. I ask your prayers for them, and for me, as we strive to discern God’s will, as we discover how the work of Convention will assist us in bringing the transforming love of Jesus to all the Mrs. Lattas of our faith communities, our neighborhoods, and the greater community.