2018 Convention Report

We were privileged to be delegates attending our 144th Convention, which was about “Stories from the Journey: Joining God in Shaping our Future”. God is inviting us to see what He is up to in our neighborhoods and in the world. By listening, discerning, experimenting and evaluating, we learn a new way to live and interact in our communities—the places we work, live, and play. By listening to each other’s stories with compassion and acceptance, we validate each other’s unique perspectives and get clues as to what God is up to and how we can participate.

At convention, we practiced identifying and sharing stories of God in our lives, meant to offer the opportunity to strengthen our faith community. Bishop Mark Beckwith read Joshua: 4  1-7 whereby after the crossing over the Jordan, Joshua was directed by God to select 12 people, one from each Israeli tribe, and command them to each go back into the Jordan and bring back a large stone that would serve as a memorial reminder of the waters of the Jordan being cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord. Bishop Beckwith said the stones were visual reminders of God’s walk with them and the stories shared that were embedded in the stone–stories of guidance, anxiety, resistance, and more.

In Dwelling in the Word, Lourdes was partnered up with someone who made a connection from the passage to the Jewish tradition of placing a stone on a grave, serving as a memorial, and the connection that we have between the living and the dead. Another partner on the following day was grasped by the thought that when children ask us for stories, we need to share. If we wait too long, when a relative is elderly, to ask questions about family history, it is often too late, as memories fail.

We were asked to think back on stories shared with our congregation during the last year– a moment whereby we felt particularly engaged and alive. Lourdes shared the time she listened to Ruth’s retelling of a chat she had with a fellow volunteer at another organization; Ruth had discovered that his father had been an Italian Prisoner of War at the same camp where her father was stationed as an interpreter, and may have even taught him English. It gave Lourdes great joy to hear that story which shows the power of engaging with others and our connectedness of shared or similar experiences.

At Convention, there was a Listening Workshop on Districts. Apparently, the Diocese of Newark is subdivided into Districts that serve as social representatives and representative entities on the Council, which is trying to re-energize the districts.  The task of subdividing them some years ago was very difficult; still, some districts don’t make sense because the churches within them are spread out. Other district divisions make sense and churches within them work together in sharing ideas and resources, sometimes working on outreach ministries together. There were a few districts that didn’t have leaders willing to be representatives to attend and set up meetings. Ours was one of them. However, churches don’t really need the district if they want to collaborate with each other; it is just meant to facilitate matters. One of us suggested in an email to John King that it would be helpful for us to support each other’s events if churches submitted events to someone who would then email a list every other week to those who want it.

We were unable to attend Episcopal Vo-Tech, which invited members of Buildings & Grounds, Stewardship, and Youth Ministries from Diocesan Churches, but John King had written that they would offer full reports to interested individuals, so perhaps our church can inquire about that. A United Thank Offering (UTO) was taken up during the Convention, resulting in $6000 that would go towards Diocesan grants.

What’s next in the Diocese are opportunities to Go Local (Feb. 24th), youth leadership learning cohorts, monthly activity mapping meetings, collaboration with Crossroads Camps, and “Confirmation Best Practices”. The two of us, as convention delegates, will be expected to keep up with reports from the Bishop Search/Nominating Committee and will vote during the election of the Bishop. The Search Committee discerned which 8-10 candidates would attend a retreat (late Feb). Next, three to five candidates will be presented to the Standing Committee on March 5th. A Walkabout is scheduled for May 3-6 for voters to get to know candidates. A special convention will take place May 19th to vote in the new bishop. A Transition Committee is taking care of the election, consecration (Sept 22 at NJPAC, Newark), retirement party (Sept. 8th at Skylands Event & Conference Center), and the transition with relocation and navigation of the new bishop in the Diocese.

In conclusion, Bishop Beckwith asked the delegates “Based on what you have shared and experienced during the past two days, what gives you energy and hope?”  Some of the responses included:

  • We were able to see our stories in new ways and identify God’s presence in them.
  • Your stories evoke my stores.
  • When we share we become community.
  • God needs us to join with God.  We are the bearers of faith.  Trust it.  Use it.

Overall, convention was a wonderful experience—one which we, along with many other delegates, consider to be a positive influence in our lives.


— Ruth and Lourdes


Watch Bishop Beckwith’s address at the 144th Annual Diocesan Convention

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *