by Mo. Rebecca Dinovo

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-content/uploads/2012/07/rebecca-at-booth_opt.jpg” alt=”” width=”250″ height=”166″ />I was privileged to be able to attend the 77th General Convention that met in Indianapolis July 5-12. This was my third Convention in a row: my first Convention experience was in Columbus, Ohio in 2006 when we elected the first female Primate (Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori) and my second Convention was in Anaheim, California in 2009.

I have served as an “Exhibitor” in all three of the last Conventions for a group I co-founded called the Episcopal Network for Animal Welfare (ENAW). In 2009 I was elected to serve as an alternate Deputy for the Diocese of San Diego as well. This year I was an Exhibitor and also participated in the “Gathering of Leaders” group that I am a part of with the goal of equipping younger clergy for Christ-centered leadership under the oversight of retired Bishop Claude Payne of the Diocese of Texas. Additionally, I was blessed to have some time with the deputation and representatives from the Diocese of Missouri that included Bishop Smith, Canon Dan Smith, the Rev. Dan Appleyard, Kathy Dyer, Mike Clark, the Rev. Tamsen Whistler, and the Rev. Doris Westfall, among others.

While at convention my daughter Charlotte and I attended daily worship and I was invited to help serve at the Eucharist on Monday morning to the thousand or more Episcopalians gathered in the gigantic ballroom at the JW Marriott. The preaching was top-notch and Spirit-filled every day and included the Presiding Bishop, Bishop Michael Curry, the Rev. Dr. Mary Crist, and the Rev. Alberto Cutie (formerly of the Roman Catholic Church).

I always spend some time sitting in and listening to the legislation that goes on in the House of Bishops and in the House of Deputies (elected lay and clergy from every Diocese). Some have likened seeing the floor of the House of Deputies for the first time to seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time: it is a staggeringly massive room filled with deputies from every Diocese of the Episcopal Church, presided over by the President of the HOD, Bonnie Anderson, and replete with stages, microphones, and jumbo video screens. The testimony by some of the deputies on topics ranging from gender identity to the Israel-Palestine conflict prior to a vote was impassioned and, at times, quite educational. At other times it was just plain boring… like all church business can be!

I spent most of my time however, in the large Convention “Exhibit Hall” at the ENAW booth, handing out information about our group and our sister organization in the United Kingdom called the “Anglican Society for Animal Welfare.” We sold ENAW pins and decals, handed out animal welfare resources, talked to deputies and visitors (often with photo swapping of our cats and dogs), and answered many questions. Our members have been involved in working for the approval of liturgies for creation, including the “Prayers for the Loss of a Beloved Animal” which was approved by both Houses at this Convention (see story). We hoped to see a “Blessing of the Animals” service approved as well, but it was tabled for the next Convention. We have also worked with the Humane Society on developing animal ministry resources for churches and dealt with issues that are of moral concern for the church related to animal cruelty.

We have more than 200 members around the country involved in a variety of animal welfare concerns and ministries ranging from volunteers in local shelters, to those involved in rescue work, to wildlife rehabilitators, to veterinarians, to those working towards humane farming practices, to those serving the poor who have cats and dogs in need of food and water in their local communities. Congregations can join our directory as “Animal Friendly” churches as well. It is a rather diverse and supportive group. Learn more about the Episcopal Network for Animal Welfare.

The best part about Convention however, is the opportunity to catch up with old friends from around the country, as well as making new friends. Despite how large our Convention is, there is a sense of community among we Episcopalians that pervades all else. Best of all, whether we agree or disagree on a particular issue, we are brothers and sisters in Christ, all praying and trusting that the Holy Spirit is leading and guiding us.

Read stories about all the action at General Convention on the Episcopal News Service website.


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