The husband of a friend of mine was listening to us discuss the day at dinner. “Well, that’s Day 1 of Convention down,” he said, reassuringly. “No,” I pointed out. “That’s day 0. Tomorrow is Day 1.”
“Good Lord!” he exclaimed, turning to his husband. “We’ve been here this long, AND THIS HASN’T EVEN STARTED YET?!”
Indeed. Yesterday was just Remedial iPad Training for One and All (tl:dr—Turn it off and on again) and then a marathon round of Jeopardy!—the Episcopal version.
And really, if you wanted a good summation of the ethos and charism of the Episcopal Church, this rare sleuth of pandas, look no farther than Episcopal Jeopardy.
Consider that, in order to help the church discern who was called to be our chief pastor and primate for the next nine years, the committee decided to have bishops answer questions from across the church as distributed via a game show board. Each bishop had to select a card which told them which color-coded category and question they would answer, in various topics.
The topics ranged from self-care, to matters of faith and church structure, to issues pertaining to the LGBTQ community. Potent Potables did not make the cut, neither did Canons, and What is In Them (to my great sadness.)
It resulted in a process both hilarious and profound. One moment, Bishop Douglas explained his self-care routine as it dealt with the discipline of CrossFit (and EpiscoTwitter speculated who would win in a Nadia Boltz-Weber vs. Ian Douglas face-off), and the next, Bishop Smith movingly described how he came to believe in the power of resurrection after his wife’s sudden death.
(Then, poor Bishop Breidenthal had to respond to a direct question about divestment from the Israeli occupation, while knowing that whatever he said would infuriate people all across the Internet. Jeopardy is a cruel taskmaster.)
On display were four very different sets of gifts, and very different approaches to leadership in the church. So the deeper question, after several rounds, was less about electronic vs. printed prayer books or the status of ethical investing, but where are we called to go as a Church? Where does Jesus beckon us?
Me, I don’t have a vote. The bishops decide this, and the House of Deputies ratifies the process. But we all need to answer for ourselves where we are being called as a church. The new presiding bishop is only one person, but we all participate in the story of God. So the question is—where is that story going next, and how are we going to tell it?