Episcopal convention delegates review missionary progress

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Delegates at the 170th convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri learned on Friday afternoon that one of the mission churches in Lake St. Louis had become a parish. About 75 members of the Church of the Transfiguration were on hand to provide a presentation of the mission's history and the work it took to become a parish.

"We started out with about a dozen members," said Mary Ruth, a longtime member of the newly established parish. "It moved from place to place, meeting room to meeting room, until we finally settled on our present building. Now we've added on rooms for Sunday school and meetings."

Building up missions was a large part of convention business as 300 delegates met to discuss and review the church's progress on missionary work, not only in Africa but also in Missouri. It was the ongoing theme emphasized by both Bishop George Wayne Smith, 10th bishop of Missouri, and the keynote speaker of the weekend, Dr. Dwight Zscheile.

During his homily at Mass Friday evening, Zscheile, an assistant professor at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., touched on the issues of the Episcopal Church.

"God calls us out of our doors to participate in healing and reconciliation," he said. The Episcopal Church cannot expect people to join the church, sing the songs and just stay. Members have to work at the mission at hand, promoting healing and peace by working with each other. We are confused by the idea of mission, we think it's somewhere else, but it's right on our doorsteps."

Christ Episcopal Church of Cape Girardeau was one of six congregations asked by the bishop to engage in an experiment of missional living.

"I have asked them to refocus their life around God's mission and to make it an organizing principle in their common life, not an afterthought or the thing to do after everything else is in order," Smith said.

The two-day convention was hosted by Christ Episcopal Church of Cape Girardeau with help from the parish of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Sikeston, Mo. Events were held at Christ Episcopal, the University Center, Old St. Vincent's Church and Drury Lodge.

Other business of the convention included introduction of new clergy, new resolutions and budgets. Friday evening's events concluded with a celebration of Eucharist at Old St. Vincent's Church and banquet and compline at Drury Lodge. The convention concluded Saturday with an address by Zscheile.

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