Tag Archives: #GC78

Deputy of the Day – Mary Lee Wile

Work and Pray
Deputy of the Day Mary Lee Wile in the Lobster Hat

Chaplain to the House of Deputies Lester Mackenzie often closes his prayers by saying “because You love it when we pray!”

And we do pray, often. At the beginning of each legislative session, our Chaplain leads us in lively, joy-filled, exuberant music and prayer, and sometimes, after adjournment, he can be found quietly laying hands on individual deputies as he prays with them for matters of urgent personal concern.

HOD Chaplin Lester Mackenzie

And every morning before the Legislative session begins, we celebrate the Eucharist. From where I stand below the altar as a floor deacon at the Convention Eucharist, the hearing-impaired are seated directly in my line of sight. Watching them sign (not sing) the Sanctus has become my favorite moment of the morning. They make me think of Elijah finding the voice of God in sheer silence as their gestures weave heaven and earth together while the rest of us sing “heaven and earth are full of your glory.” If God indeed “loves it when we pray,” God must delight in these silent, ethereal prayers.


Hard and heavy work gets done in Legislative Committee meetings, many of which begin at 7:30 a.m. and one of which ran past 11 p.m. last night, as well as on the floor of the two Houses; our afternoon session today in the House of Deputies ran till nearly 7 p.m. (actually cut short because Spanish translations weren’t yet available for the resolutions before the House; we were supposed to finish at 7:30). By beginning this work with prayer, we are living into what the President of Episcopal Relief and Development said this morning; “Worship undergirds mission.”

I can’t imagine surviving the grueling schedule of General Convention without the faithful attention paid to prayer.

This is my first time serving as a Deputy, having been to four previous Conventions simply to do book signings and selling. I was allowed to attend Legislative sessions as a visitor in those years, but mostly I was expected to hang out in the exhibit hall. This year, I missed my scheduled half hour to sign Star of Wonder and Season of Angels on Saturday because we Deputies staged a revolt and refused to adjourn for lunch until after we were able to confirm the election of Michael Curry as our next Presiding Bishop – so instead I’ve stopped by the Forward Movement booth during a few rushed minutes here and there to sign the books, which is all vastly different from the leisurely five days I spent in the exhibit hall back in 2000 when my Confirmation program book, I will with God’s help, first came out – and which, to my surprise, is still available for sale 15 years later at another booth in the exhibit hall. A priest I’ve never met from Alabama stopped me in the hall last Friday to say he’s still using the program.

The author at her book signing

Our afternoon session today was long, sometimes frustrating, and incomplete, but our returning Deputies assure us this is normal, and all shall be well. It would be easy to get so caught up in the business of our sessions that we forget why we’re doing it, but Presiding-bishop Elect Michael Curry reminds us of the “why.” He unabashedly preaches his love for Jesus, continually insisting that following Jesus into the neighborhood is our deepest call. “How” we accomplish this “why” is the work of Convention. Bishop Curry quoted Billy Sunday: “If the Episcopal Church ever wakes up – look out!” The work and prayer of this Convention has shown that any Episcopal naptime is over: even if sessions run long and resolutions get delayed, we are awake! (If you doubt this, note Curry’s landslide election, then check out the resolutions that have been passed on such matters as marriage equality, racism, and gun violence [my favorite quotation of the whole Convention still remains Gay Jennings’ injunction to “turn guns into swing sets”]).

Much lies ahead in the final four days of Convention, but grounded in prayer and following Jesus, we may not yet know the outcome, but we for sure know the Way.

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Deputy of the Day – Mark Spahr

Deputy of the Day Mark Spahr

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 stand out.

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.

Name Badge

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.”

Mark and Fr. John Palarine

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!

Happening #31- Diocese of Central Florida

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?

Brian: What happens on Monday?

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.

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