Last Weekend, 25-27 January, our Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi gathered for Annual Council. Like the Chapel’s Annual Meeting on 20 January, Council is the yearly gathering of the diocese to receive reports, elect folks to various committees, worship together, and enjoy hearty fellowship.
Council 2019 was in Hattiesburg and over 80 parishes, missions, preaching stations, and other ministries were represented. I am very grateful for Molly Meeks, Eric Eaton, and Reggie Sims who served as deputies from the Chapel to Council. +Brian, our bishop, gave his Annual Address (and I won the hallowed Address pool for which every clergy person must predict the speech’s length – I guessed 39 minutes) and we heard from a variety of ministries, such as our mission work in Uganda (ably reported by the aforementioned Molly Meeks), the diocese’s ministries with youth (also ably reported by the Chapel’s own Laura Lee Boyles), and St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. We passed a balanced budget and all and all it was an uneventful and nice Council.
But for me the highlight was Sunday. Often during Council we take a moment to honor someone for their service to the diocese and/or the larger Church. But during the closing Festival Eucharist, we carved out significant and holy space to give thanks, consider, and honor Dr. Anita Parrott George. Dr. George is a member of the Church of the Resurrection, Starkville and taught education for over forty years, including at Mississippi State. Dr. George also served as co-chair of our diocese’s Task Force on Racial Reconciliation, as a deputy to General Convention, and on the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. In honor of her many accomplishments, she was named a Canon (honorary) at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Jackson. You can learn more about how Council honored Dr. George here, and read a powerful reflection by Dr. George here.
We who read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest holy scripture (as the Prayer Book instructs us to do) sometimes lament the illusion that we no longer see and experience the heroes, prophets, miracle workers, great writers and orators, and other characters we experience in the Bible. But our illusion is exactly that, an illusion. As people of faith, we are called by God to see his work around us and celebrate our sisters and brothers who are so effectively and nobly being Christ’s hands and voice in our world. From the simple joy of daffodils in the churchyard to the prophetic witness of Dr. George, God is always around us, we merely need the faith to look.
I pray God continues to send and inspire admirable leaders like Dr. George. And I pray we listen, celebrate, contemplate, and incorporate their wisdom. And I pray we (myself included) have the faith to see and witness to how the Holy Spirit is moving in the world. The Spirit is moving at the Chapel, and in Hattiesburg, and around you. How will you respond?