Alfonso Bedoya is probably best known for his show-stealing line while playing the role of Gold Hat in the 1948 film The Treasure of Sierra Madre:
“Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!”
Well, deputies to the Episcopal Church’s 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, need badges. As a member of the Credentials Committee, it’s my job to help deputies obtain their badges. The line for badges begins with the station where I’m working. After the deputies from my assigned-by-alphabetical-order dioceses of Maine to Northwestern Pennsylvania fill out the forms (in Trinitarian-like triplicate), they move to my right, pass one of the copies of the form to my work neighbor, and they are presented with their wonderful-smelling nametag holder with lanyard complete with name, map, and other goodies I’ve yet to explore. In short, they successfully obtain their badges.
The paper-pushing part of the handing out and receiving of badges isn’t challenging by any stretch of the imagination. That’s probably why I was assigned to this committee. There’s nothing inherently glamorous about this ministry. But there is an incarnational element to the distribution of such holy elements.
Because each deputy to General Convention must pass through the credentials area like Hebrews through the Red Sea and into the Promised Land, I’ve already seen on day-one a fabulous cross-section of Episcopalians. I’ve reconnected with folks from my days in seminary, as well as dioceses and parishes I’ve served in years past. Facebook friends have become flesh. I’ve shaken hands, hugged, and simply basked in the presence of a multitude of saints.
I’ve learned quickly it’s not just about the badges. It’s about the people who wear them.