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Thursday, July 12, 2012

From General Convention 2012: Come to the Water

 This is the first of two posts discussing my participation in the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which took place in Indianapolis over the past two weeks.  
On Saturday morning, a number of us were blessed to participate in an event we weren't planning for in the hubbub of activity of General Convention. A woman who has been a part of the church for long time had decided she was ready to solemnize her relationship with us. She wanted to be baptized. At her request, we're not sharing her name, but she did give us permission to tell her story. She and I recognized each other, but we weren't sure from where. At events like this, "small world syndrome" runs deep.

 The Rev. Elizabeth Kaeton blogged about the request, so a number of us had heard about it by the time came. And so, accompanied by members of her family, four priests, two nuns and a handful of us who were swept up in the enthusiasm of the moment, she stepped out into the bright 105-degree sunshine outside the Convention Center complex and headed across the street into a quiet plaza with a fountain at its center, which was technically part of an office tower. Being from New York, I was watching over my shoulder the whole time waiting for the property management to come chase us away.

The Rev. Jon Richardson read from Matthew's gospel, and Elizabeth a sermon which touched on the life of Conrad Weiser, whose feast was yesterday. In it, she compared baptism to the transformation of Pinocchio, at which point the strings that bound him were cut, leaving him free and "real."

 "It was the most meaningful baptism, other than my own and my son's, that I have ever been witness to," said Susan Pederson, a member of Integrity's convention team. Elizabeth led us all to the edge of the fountain. After renewing our own vows and confirming our intention to help our sister live into hers, we watched as Elizabeth baptized and anointed her with the oil we were able to have blessed by one of the readily-available bishops. The hotel provided the elements for Eucharist, and we proceeded into a merciful patch of shade and shared Communion, celebrated by The Rev. Michael Sniffen.

Afterward, Michael invited us into a time of silence. Our new sister's kids played quietly in the shade, tired of the grown-ups' talk. With the refreshing backdrop of the cooling water, and under the curious eyes of a busload of tourists, the Holy Spirit's power in that moment was more powerful than the sun.

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