Reflections from the Convention Floor
Sarah J. Smith-Riggle
The journey that took me to the floor of the Convention for this year was quite by accident; although some say that events come to fruition by circumstances not of our control. I would very much agree to that; 100 per cent. Kay and I were already going to convention as exhibitors for Integrity, as it were; but forces beyond our control would put one of us on the floor as the Delegate for our church. If Kay had a wish, it would be that I could be that delegate; I needed to be a delegate, to know what it feels like to have voting power and to sit with other delegates as part The Episcopal Church.
At last year’s convention Kay was the primary delegate and I was the alternate. I had been hurt spiritually before convention began and when the convention concluded, I was angry; I felt invisible and was hurting in a detached kind of way. But as this year’s Primary Delegate, something happened; I was carried to a higher plane by the spirit of the body from the convention floor. From the moment I stepped onto that floor, I was carried through both services by the music; by the voice of all the delegates speaking as one body as we recited the morning prayer and song. I wept for joy, because I was there, because I was accepted for who I am; I felt welcomed by all, as a member of that body. And I was overwhelmed, with joy, with tears, with the spirit for those two days as I sat ready to cast my vote. The first vote, I think, to be cast by a trans woman in the history of the Diocese as a voting member of a Convention of Delegates.
How fortuitous that I should be sitting at a table that would get a rare opportunity to be heard discussing the issue of Same Sex Blessings. The delegate body was allowed forty minutes to listen to and voice our opinions on this very important issue. After listening to the other’s thoughts, it seemed that all those sitting at my table were in favor of creating a Blessing Ceremony for Same-Sex Unions. Some said that if the Church could bless people’s homes then the Church could bless those in a same sex relationship. Aren’t our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters more important to the Church than a person’s home? If we want and respect the people who fill the pews then why would we not show our Love for them as well. Why do we push people away from us just because they want their relationships to be recognized by those who say they love and respect them, a relationship that is already affirmed by God. Why do we push our Church members out the doors to find other options from supporters of the GLBT community who bless loving relationships. Are we telling our glbt church families; “We want your money, we just don’t want to see you showing affection for the person you love.”. Is that what we are saying to those in non-traditional relationships? Do we really mean that?
Let us stand united with the growing movement to affirm and bless Same Gender Relationships that is moving among the Episcopal Churches in the United States in the most visible way possible; to invite all to stand before the Alter and unite and bless Couples together in their Church’s, to publicly affirm and attest to what God already knows.