During the opening Eucharist, Daughters who have died were remembered in a lovely candle lighting ceremony, including those from the Diocese of the Rio Grande.
The theme of Assembly was from Micah 6:8 “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” This Assembly the focus was Justice.
We were delighted to welcome our new National President, Susan O’Brien, was at the Provincial Assembly. We (Prov. 7) were the first Province she has visited since her election at Triennial last June! She spoke on how ‘evangelism’ is really just telling our story, which is part of what we’ll be doing at our Diocesan Assembly in August. I’m sure you all have it on your calendar for August 5-6! Registration info will be out in just a few weeks. She also noted that to ‘act justly’, as in the Micah citation is our individual call as Daughters, and as baptized Christians. She asked us to consider ‘What injustice do you observe today?’ and ‘What can I do about it?’
Susan remarked that when we ‘love mercy’, it should be done extravagantly using the Prodigal Son as an example. Walking ‘humbly’ is to be obedient to God, which takes being aware of God’s actions. She shared that one of her prayer disciplines is to do photo journal walks. During these she takes pictures of things that remind her of God’s presence. (Doesn’t that sound like a great way to pray?) She made one of them into a card with the theme of the Assembly on it for each attendee.
During the business meeting, it was noted that we are falling down on keeping up with donations to our funds, esp. the Self Denial Fund. In 2012 there was $102,000 in the fund and last year, only $13,000. This is not because of excessive grants, but because donations are WAY down. It was suggested that if EVERY Daughter donated just $5 to the fund it would be a huge help. So…I offer that as a challenge to each chapter/Daughter in our diocese. You can donate online, or download the form to send with donation from the National website 'Support our Mission' page. The Provincial Assembly voted $771 to go to Self-Denial from the Eucharist offering and the $225 annual ‘undesignated’ grant monies. Each Diocese also gets a grant of $400. In the Rio Grande, this year, it went to the Rector’s Fund at St. James, Taos for help with outreach utility aid.
Susan O’Brien also encouraged us to focus meetings in a spiritual setting and format, perhaps even incorporating meeting in an area with candles, flowers, and other spiritual aids and to format the meeting as a form of worship by opening and ending with prayer. She stated that the Prayer List should take up no more than 5 minutes of the meeting time! At meetings she has chaired, members bless one another as part of the closing ceremony. One way to do this is to anoint each other’s hands as blessing. She closed with a prayer from Celtic Prayer From Iona, which is part of her daily devotions.
On my heart and on my house
The blessing of God.
In my coming and in my going
The peace of God.
In my life and in my seeking
The Love of God.
At my end and new beginning
The arms of God to welcome me, and bring me home.
Jennifer Stanton Hargrave, a family law attorney was one of the speakers. She noted that ‘justice’ depends on the audience, and can seem ‘unfair’ to us-esp. if things don’t go our way. Real fairness comes when we look outward toward the good of all, not just what I think is ‘best for me’. The Hebrew word for ‘justice’ is mishpat, which is to treat others equitably (love as we are loved). True justice must be outward and social and is the fruit of maturity along with joy and peace. True justice restores relationship between God and people, and requires generosity.
Valerie Maniscalco, communications director of the Genesis Women’s Shelter talked about the extensive work of the shelter. It has been in operation for 30 years and was the response of an Episcopal priest and church who wanted to help women escaping domestic abuse. Now the shelter offers a 6-week stay to women and children, with the chance to then move to a long term residential facility for up to a year. They offer schooling, counseling, legal aid, and are funded totally by community donations. Attendees donated diapers and baby wipes to the shelter. The Jr. Daughters made gift bags for the residents, too.
Fr. Mike Gemangani, Provincial Chaplain was the final speaker. He discussed how the purpose of justice is to make right what is wrong and to affect change. His talk can be downloaded from the Provincial website.
Following his talk, Fr. Mike presented certificates to the Arkansas Daughters who had completed the program Daughters Going Deeper. Some Daughters in the Rio Grande are currently working through the program. If you are interested in participating in the next group, starting in 2017, you can download the info and forms.
Assembly is always a time for renewing friendships and meeting new friends from all around. See you at the Diocesan Assembly in August in Silver City. Mark your calendar for next year’s Prov. Assembly: April 21-23, 2017 at Church of the Incarnation, Dallas. Triennial is in 2018 and will be June 20-24, 2018 at the Renaissance at the Arboretum in Austin, TX.
By the way-you can keep up with Provincial news and ask for prayers, etc. on the Prov. 7 Facebook page. There are more pics from Assembly on the Facebook and Prov. 7 website, too.