Deputy Spahr proudly wearing the traditional (and silly) Deputy of the Day hat.
Here in Salt Lake City, we have just crossed the halfway point of the General Convention. There have been many highlights thus far: among these confirming the election of Michael Curry as the Presiding Bishop
, and the opportunity to join with over a thousand people and march through the streets of Salt Lake City to Claim Common Ground Against Gun Violence
But for me, one of my favorite parts is the opportunity to meet people of convention on the streets, in the elevators, and in the halls of the convention center.
Pins on name badges may or may not be strategically placed so as to cover up random food stains.
Participants at convention are easily identified by the lanyards and name tags we all wear around our necks. It is easy to feel a connection to one another: we are all here for a common purpose and hold similar beliefs. People are always interested in where you are from and it is a form of instant fellowship.
I have had many amazing conversations and learned so many things from people I have met here at convention. One, a woman from the Diocese of Utah, told me as we stood on the corner waiting to cross the street, that the streets of Salt Lake City were laid out to be wide enough so that a team of eight oxen could make a u-turn. Another, Tony Chu from the Diocese of New York, described General Convention as “Camp for adults.”
On the right, a man who looks like he hasn’t aged a day in 30 years. On the left…
Yet another conversation was a chance reunion. On the way to the community eucharist one day, I bumped into Father John Palarine, who was the Youth Missioner for the Diocese of Central Florida when I was a kid. He and I went on a mission to Honduras during my high school years and we had not seen each other in nearly thirty years!
There is at least one future Deputy in this photo filled with lots of 80’s fashion and hair.
When I was growing up in Orlando, I had the chance to participate in Happening, a weekend retreat for high school age kids. These weekends were filled with fellowship with friends old and new, music, laughter, worship, and fun. The chance to spend this time in a community of young persons, learning about Christ and the church are some of my fondest memories of my teenage years. There was a down side to all of this. When the weekend was over, I had to leave my Happening friends, and return to the real world.
At the General Convention we also share times of fellowship, music, laughter, and worship. It fills me with joy, a feeling of hope, and a sense of purpose. To me, being among the people of the General Convention seems like a small taste of the heavenly reward that awaits us on the other side of this life.
But as our work continues, there is a question that keeps nagging at me. When convention ends, how do I take what I am feeling now, the things that I have learned, and bring them back to the real world?
What happens when we leave Salt Lake City?
In some ways, it is similar to the question Anthony Michael Hall’s Brian poses at the end of The Breakfast Club
: What happens on Monday?
When I encounter someone at convention, it is safe. I know that I speak to someone with a common interest and a common love of Christ. In The Breakfast Club, Brian tells his new friends that he would never deny them. I hope that I have the courage to witness the joy and love of Christ that I feel here in Salt Lake City, when I return to the wider world.