Bishop Curry says, “Go!”

Holy Great Commission, Batman! You do not invite Presiding Bishop-elect Michael B. Curry to preach without expecting him to bring down the house, but I think he may have brought down the whole block.

Bishop Cury was helped by the fact that our theme today was the Mission of the Church. It was fascinating to me, as a liturgical enthusiast, that the Collect for the Day, however, spoke not of mission but of reconciliation and forgiveness.

“God of compassion, you have reconciled us in Jesus Christ who is our peace: Enable us to live as Jesus lived, breaking down walls of hostility and healing enmity. Give us grace to make peace with those from whom we are divided, that, forgiven and forgiving, we may ever be one in Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever, one holy and undivided Trinity. Amen.”

Our mission flows forth from our reconciliation to God and to one another.

Bishop Curry built on that theme throughout his sermon. He spoke of the Babylonian Exile, of valleys being lifted up and mountains and hills made low. He told the story of Congressman John Lewis forgiving one of the men who brutally beat him during the Freedom Rides decades before. He mentioned St. Paul and +Barbara Harris (the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion) in the same breath, and quoted “that great philosopher, Frank Sinatra.” Ultimately, he told us,

“God came among us in the person of Jesus to reconcile us to God, to reconcile us to each other, and in so doing, to change the world.”

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The Great Commission then, is us – ALL of us, every single person baptized into the Triune God – going forth, reconciled in Christ Jesus, to do that world-changing work.

“If you remember nothing else from my sermon this morning, remember that first part of the Great Commission: ‘GO!'”

Before worship had ended, Bishop Andy Doyle of Texas had started a hashtag proclaiming #BpCurrySaysGo to exhort his diocese to go forth, listening to Jesus and sharing the Good News of the Jesus Movement.

Whether you were physically present with us in Salt Lake City, you watched the livestream, followed #GC78 on Twitter, or are just tuning in now: #BpCurrySaysGo.

How will you go forth and make disciples of all nations? However you do it, let’s go together!

Watch the video:

Presider – The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate
Preacher – The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop-Elect
Deacon – The Rev. Deacon Jane Holmes
Lector OT – Amanda Zorilla, Official Youth Presence (Spanish)
Lector NT – Diane Pollard
Master of Ceremonies – Margaret McLarty

Worship on Day 8 of General Convention

The sermon this morning was given by the Rev. Colin Mathewson, Priest Associate for Mission, St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego

There is a single, eternal, and glorious Word whom we worship here today: the Word of God made flesh who dwelt among us, died on the cross of shame, and rose victorious. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection form the basis of a story that has changed each of us in this room.

Read the sermon text. 

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Presider – The Right Reverend Julio Holguin, Bishop of the Dominican Republic
Preacher – The Reverend Colin Mathewson, Priest Associate for Mission, St. Paul’s Cathedral, San Diego
Deacon – The Rev. Deacon Ema Rosero-Nordalm
Lector OT – Lauren Fallen, Volunteer Coordinator
Lector NT – France Vixamar (reading in French)
Master of Ceremonies – Margaret McLarty


Reflections on Worship – Wednesday, Day 7

The Eucharist this morning honored Hiram Hisanori Kano, a Japanese-American modern saint. As is traditional in Japan, the call to worship was done by the Kenshin Taiko Drummers.

What a welcome to worship!!

The Bishop of Utah, Rt Rev Scott Hayashi was our celebrant with Rev Rebecca Stephens as the preacher. Two weeks ago, I was attending the Daughters of the King Triennial on the mountain top in Midway, UT and Rev. Stephens had addressed us there so I knew we were in for a treat!


The Gospel lesson was on the lost sheep. She shared her story of having been sexually abused by a trusted adult after the loss of her father at a young age. She has turned these painful experiences into ministry for other lost sheep–women who have been “pushed out of the herd by overwhelming issues of injustice in this world.”

She shared the power of healing by love that Magdalene House has had on human trafficking victims in their two-year program. She also shared how The Episcopal Church has taken the lead in housing first to get women off the streets.

Another aspect of her ministry is Thistle Farms that gives these women skills to make their own way and wages. They invest in geranium farms in Africa that gives the women in African villages a way out of poverty after the ravages of war have destroyed their villages and their lives.  The products they sell are made with the geranium oils and tea these women grow.  She reminded us that “love is the most powerful force of change in our world.”  We are called to effect change. Another charge we were given was “heal women, heal a village and leave no one behind.”

We continued our service with the passing of the peace and the consecration of the elements.


Members of the National Altar Guild are responsible daily for setting the altar, providing the loaves of fresh bread and wine for thousands. I have tried to count the baskets of bread and pitchers of wine that are blessed but it is almost impossible – the altar is quite large and is totally covered with all of these. An army of Eucharistic ministers and priests systematically take their designated items from the alter after the consecration to go to the multiple stations around the worship hall. For every basket of bread, there are two chalice bearers and there are 2-3 teams serving a minimum of six stations. Our own Sandy Shockley and Brent Walker have been Eucharistic servers.  It is a well-orchestrated event that is quite impressive.

As we concluded our service our postlude was again the Taiko Drums reminding me to listen to the rhythm of the Holy Spirit in my life and do what I can to bring the lost sheep back into the fold.

Lord of the ages, hear my prayer.

Presider – The Rt. Rev. Scott Hayashi, Bishop of Utah
Preacher – The Reverend Becca Stevens, Thistle Farms
Deacon – The Ven. Betsy Bennett
Lector OT – Kevin Smallwood, Episcopal Service Corps
Lector NT – Bernadette Ellorin (Tagalog)
Master of Ceremonies – Margaret McLarty

Thistle farms on Twitter:

@ThistleStopCafe , @SharedTrade, @RevBeccaStevens.

Commemorating James Weldon Johnson

The worship service on Tuesday, June 30 remembered the life of James Weldon Johnson, poet and hymn writer.

Eternal God, we give thanks for the gifts that you gave your servant James Weldon Johnson: a heart and voice to praise your Name in verse. As he gave us powerful words to glorify you, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from your creation, in the Name of Jesus Christ; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

A combined choir of students from St. Augustine’s University and Voorhees College led the singing.

The Rev. Kimberly Jackson, Chaplain and Vicar of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center in Atlanta preached.

Listen to the sermon online.


“We are called to reject the notion that some people’s lives are of greater value than others’.”

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Reflections on Worship – Monday, Day 5

This morning’s Eucharist, like all I have attended at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, was both moving and meaningful.

The first lesson was from Ezekiel. We are reminded that we are God’s sheep and that he will provide leadership and care. Psalm 87 was sung, led by the exceptional choir. The second lesson was a reading from Timothy, where we are enjoined to spread the word, and be rewarded by the Lord, the Righteous Judge.

The Gospel was the story of Jesus repeatedly asking Simon Peter if he loved him (Jesus), and directing Peter to “feed my sheep.” Jesus then gave an indication of Peter’s fate to come, and concluded with “Follow me.”

The homily was by Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, Legate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America.


He noted that we were celebrating the feast of St Peter and St Paul, and gave a brief reference to the lessons, then began his story. I expect that you can find the video online, so I’ll just recap a few impressions. I had forgotton what I might have known about the genocide of the Armenians. It happened in what is now Turkey, early in the 20th century. The people were ejected from their homeland of 3,000 years; two thirds of an ethnic population of over one and a half million perished. Over 2,600 monasteries were destroyed, and over 4,000 clergy killed.

Episcopalians in this country received refugees and opened doors. We were thanked for our generosity and grace.   I can only assume that not all were so welcoming.

The homily was moving, and well received.

Some other interesting factoids: We served about 2,200 at the Eucharist – in less than 10 minutes. There were 12 stations with multiple servers. We used 48 loves of bread and 96 bottles of wine.

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On Sunday (yesterday), we served over 5,000 in less than 12 minutes.

I have enjoyed each and every daily Eucharist at GC2015. Somehow we manage to successfully combine all that makes an Episcopal service special with numbers that rival mega-church.

Thanks be to God!

Get up, girl! You’re not dead yet!

Our presiding bishop’s sermon, reflecting on the reading from Mark’s Gospel, was that of a woman about to be free. In four months, Katharine Jefferts Schori hands off the office of presiding bishop to Michael Curry and moves into a well-deserved retirement.

She spoke with a vigor I haven’t heard before – and I’ve heard some excellent sermons from her.

Sunday, she spoke very forcefully about the gospel lesson – the two healings by Jesus: one of a 12-year-old and one of the woman suffering from hemorrhage. In response to the healing of Jairus’ dead daughter, Bishop Katharine reminded me what may have been said was “Get up! You’re not dead!”  I translated that to mean, “Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, get up – you are not dead!  We need to get out there and be about what Christ has called us to do.”

Her words to the church were powerful words.  There has been enough of the finger pointing, finger wagging about our church from within and outside, and it is now time to look at life  as new territory and crossing old boundaries to do God’s ministry, just as Jesus did  in each of His healings.

“Get up, girl! You’re not dead yet!”

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Some images from worship on Sunday

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What’s happening on Day 4 of General Convention?

There are no legislative committees or sessions in the morning today, but many people will still be up and at it first thing.

The worship service, including the United Thank Offering ingathering, begins at 10:00 am in Utah.

Watch live at 11:00 am our time.

There will be one legislative session in the afternoon, with the bishops and deputies meeting separately. You can watch either of those sessions live on the General Convention Media Hub as well. Here’s what they’ll be talking about:

House of Deputies – view the calendars.

House of Bishops – view the calendars.

A “priority calendar” will include topics where debate and discussion is anticipated, and each resolution will be voted on separately.

Items on a “consent calendar” are usually not expected to require discussion or debate, so they’re voted on together in one block.

In the evening, the Fort Worth deputation has the option to get together with other deputations in our Province,  Province VII.

Reflections from worship on Day 3 of General Convention

Today was the story of the good shepherds.

We celebrated Cornelius Hill, Episcopal priest and the last hereditary chief of the Oneida nation, who used his Christian faith to help his people deal with the changes they faced and the authority of his ordination to be a bridge between the Oneida and white culture.

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The Rev. Cathlena Plummer of Navajoland told the powerful story of her family raising sheep and hearing the voice of her deceased father call to her by her Navajo name to save the sheep. That call to save the sheep also led her to become a priest, combining her Christian and Navajo spiritual identity.

Jesus tells us in the gospel of John today that the good shepherd not only gives his or her all to save the sheep of the fold, but also to gather up the sheep that do not belong to the fold, so there will be one flock, and that all will be saved.

The service began and ended with Native American music of flute and drums.


Reflections from Day 2 Worship at General Convention

What a worship service we had this morning!

We started our morning with a festive mood. Our music today was provided by an incredible jazz group, and the first song they played for us was “We are marching in the Light of God.” We sang and danced and clapped along, and before we knew, the diocese of Fort Worth had started a congo line through the worship space. This congo line was greatly increased by finding a group of youth representing Episcopal camp and conference center. They know how to dance a congo line!

Continue reading Reflections from Day 2 Worship at General Convention