You can sure tell which ones of us grew up in Nevada. The Diocesan Convention in Las Vegas opened with the singing of Home Means Nevada, except we substituted "Church" for "Home". When I was at Robert Mitchel Elementary School in Sparks, everyone sang our state song as part of our morning exercises. Newcomers to Nevada got the pleasure of learning it!
We've all heard the discouraging statistics about the decline of the church, most recently from a Pew Research poll, but our keynote speaker, Bob Honeychurch from the National Church, was one of the first I have heard the emphasized the great opportunity embedded in this. We all woke up when he referred to some old church traditions as the "holy crap" that had accumulated. He said the ground in which we are planted is too valuable for us not to take this seriously. There are many people in our society who describe themselves as "spiritual, but not religious," but sadly our churches could sometimes be described as "religious, but not spiritual." Too often, people come to us looking for God, and we give them church. They come looking for ways to make sense of the chaos in theirs lives, and we give them a list of committees they could serve on. We are tempted to equate the Good News with all the trappings, but if we could focus on what's really important -- giving people an authentic experience of the Christ -- all those other concerns about how we should minister, and whether our churches would grow, would be taken care of. We must find ourselves firmly planted in the world that is... where God is already actively involved. He suggested we need to find ourselves in that Exodus story. We're in the wilderness right now, in a strange land, time, and culture not of our own choosing. But we are not alone. God is with us on this journey and is leading, just as God did the Israelites with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. We are called to where the world's deep hunger and our faith meet. That is the gift of being the church today.
There is great news on our budget. In 2013, we have a balanced budget for the first time in a long time. Applause! Net income is better than forecasted, so we're also ending the year well in the black. We will also be able to help fulfill specific financial grant requests from local congregations. When all is said and done, we are a $10,000,000 organization! Amazing!
We watched a very moving video report on Latino Ministries. Bishop Dan said it started out as a way to help the Latino community, but they have enriched us. I hope to post the video soon!
We spent much of the afternoon in various interest groups focused on an exercise called "mapping assets" where we look at talents we as individuals and as a diocese can bring to bear in the areas of evangelism, Camp Galilee, communications, ministry development, and education.
Later, we worked on committee appointments and canon revision, all too titillating to be described fully in this humble blog. In the evening, open hearing were held on miscellaneous reports (kind of an "open mic" for different folks who want to make announcements) and the budget (for the truly wonky folks who love the details!)
We ended with a presentation from the deputies who went to our national General Assembly this summer.
The Trinity group all went out to dinner at a place called the Ranch House. The food was great, and breaking bread in one another's company after a long day was refreshing.