Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Most Beautiful Song

GC Recap for June 26 2015

A Powerful and Emotional Day
We woke up in Salt Lake City Friday to see the President of the United States speaking at the White House, letting us know that the Supreme Court of the United States had ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Given that this topic will be one of large presence at this General Convention of The Episcopal Church, the timing was profound. 

At the same time, wasn't Barack Obama supposed to be in Charleston? We South Carolinians were already emotionally waiting to see what the day would be like in our own state. What else could happen? Could it be more emotional?
It turns out it could. Bishop Waldo attended a luncheon to celebrate Episcopal HBCUs. Our own Voorhees College was one of two schools represented. Voorhees President Cleveland Sellers was on the panel. As attendees were arriving, President Barack Obama nearing the end of his eulogy for The Reverend Senator Clementa Pinckney’s (Mountain Time made this possible). As folks gathered and settled in, several pulled up the  service on computers and phones. The President was singing the most beautiful song, Amazing Grace, singing the victims of the Charleston shooting in heaven with all gathered there and watching from afar.
A group, including The Reverend Michael Wright of Grace Church, Charleston, watches intently as President Obama sings of the grace of the victims of last week's shooting at Mother Emanuel AME.
Dr. Sellers arrived just a little late for the forum that he might finish watching the service in Charleston. When he stood up to speak about Voorhees and the special call of Episcopal HBCUs, he was too emotional to do so. Dr. Sellers was deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement. He marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His hope is that the Charleston deaths are not yet another tragedy (he has witnessed so many) but a catalyst for true change.
Student Darryl Harper gave testimony to what Voorhees has meant to him. Darryl told his story. As an 18-year-old he was left by his sister to raise his nephew. He had planned to play football at a school in Florida, but his scholarship was canceled when he couldn’t find a way to go to college and be a father.
He gave up on the idea of attending college, thinking all he could do was play football and knowing that wasn't going to happen. A mentor who recognized his talent and intelligence drove him from Buffalo, NY (one of the most destitute cities in the US and where he lived and grew up) to Denmark, SC. He was taken on a tour, interviewed, provided a room in which to spend the night and as he tells it, “woke up a student at Voorhees College.”

Darryl is grateful for the movement of the spirit in his life. He is grateful that he did not attend a traditional school, where he might’ve dropped out without notice. At Voorhees he says he learned who he was in a diverse community of healthy and positive young black students. He learned about his history in a school where a majority of students came from situations where they had no idea whether they’d be able to attend college at all.

Darryl was mentored by people like Dr. Sellers, who spoke to Darryl’s freshman class, telling them his own life’s story. Dr. Sellers served as a father figure for Darryl, something he’d never had before. Darryl knows that Voorhees would never let him go, even if he were to try. They would never give up on him. The slogan his classmates came up with about their beloved school? "Voorhess College attracts broken souls but builds leaders."

Joint Session on Governance and Restructuring

Friday morning began with a joint brainstorming session of the structure of the Church. Deputies and bishops were asked to break into groups and answer the same question in several different ways: "Name up to five structures, programs and activities of GC that support or enable your congregation (or executive council and Church-wide staff; congregation; province, diocese) to more fully participate in God’s Mission of restoring all people to unity with God and one another in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. In keeping with General Convention's attempt to be more eco-friendly, groups were asked to tweet or email answers beginning with the words “Keep” or “Change” before mentioning the structures. GC was able to keep track of the answers and will compile the information.
Our deputation and bishop enjoying discussion and working hard in the joint session of House of Bishops and House of Deputies Friday, June 26th.
President Gay Clark Jennings Re-Elected as President of the House of Deputies 
Gay Clark Jennings Presiding 
Other business in the House of Deputies yesterday - The Reverend Gay Clark Jennings from the Diocese of Southern Ohio was re-elected as president of the House of Deputies, which is celebrating its 230th anniversary this year. 1970 was the first year women were allowed to sit as deputies at GC. EDUSC's own Sarah McCrory of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, Columbia, was the first woman from our diocese to serve as a deputy to General Convention.

ECCC Day at GC Friday! 
Friday was Episcopal Camp and Conference Center day at General Convention. Our deputation, staff and ECW Board (of which the bishop is a member!) wore our Camp Gravatt shirts proudly today. It was fun to see T-shirts from Episcopal camps all over the country.  While most bishops that day were wearing purple clericals. Our bishop was wearing a purple Gravatt shirt!
The EDUSC ECW Executive Board delegates have arrived! ECW members are delegates to their Triennial meeting, which happens in conjunction with General Convention.

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