80th General Convention volunteers welcome bishops and deputies to Baltimore – Episcopal News Service

Volunteer Janet Adam scans the credentials of Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Byron Rushing on July 7 before handing him her loaner iPad to follow General Convention activities. Volunteer Kaitlyn Lengyel looks on. Photo: Cynthia Black

[Episcopal News Service – Baltimore, Maryland] Bishops, deputies and enthusiastic volunteers arrived on July 7, presenting “green health passes” for admission to the Baltimore Convention Center, collecting badges, iPads and COVID tests in preparation for the very July 80 expected and simplified 80e General Convention of the Episcopal Church.

” It’s going very well. Everyone gets it. People understand that we need to check their health passes, and they have them ready,” said Katherine Schnorrenberg, a member of St. Peter’s Church, Ellicott City, in the host Diocese of Maryland, adding that she has took a week’s vacation, including her birthday. , to volunteer.

Standing on the walkway between the Hilton hotel and the convention center, she added: “I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the Episcopal Church. It’s so cool for Baltimore. We see how amazing the Episcopal Church is.

Despite a one-year postponement and a reduced schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, operations went smoothly and enthusiasm was high, said Fiona Nieman, convention and scheduling meetings at the general church convention office.

“We had people waiting outside the gate of the convention center as early as 8:45 a.m., eager to get in and get their registration materials,” Nieman said. “It’s been quite a build-up in terms of planning, and there’s also a sense of relief that we’re finally here and ready.”

Nieman credited both the City of Baltimore and the Diocese of Maryland for “being absolutely amazing to work with” through the schedule extensions and added protocols. “Without them, we couldn’t have navigated through all of these shifts and changes.”

Reducing the number of days “harmed the hotels and the city, but they were still thrilled and excited to have us here in their city at this time,” she added.

Reducing the gathering in Baltimore, however, won’t save money. Church leaders said it would actually cost about $1.1 million more. Much of that total relates to the church guaranteeing a number of hotel stays in Baltimore, an estimated liability of up to $750,000.

The Reverend Canon Scott Slater, Canon Ordinary of Maryland, said that while adjusting the schedule was difficult, “we were happy to do it, to keep everyone safe. We love having the opportunity to show how wonderful our city is.

Likewise, Jessica Pandolfino, who serves the diocese as a communications administration associate, said that while the delays and challenges brought “a sense of disappointment when things kept changing, there was also a rallying feeling, when you needed something, people stepped up.”

Patrick Haizel, General Convention Office Assistant for Administration and Operations, said he called it “the ‘boy scout’ convention because we had to be ready for anything. Flexibility is the key word. We are grateful to the great people in the Baltimore office who are supporting the changes. The Diocese of Maryland has created wonderful Maryland Night offerings, there is a positive energy, despite the gatherings during the pandemic.

The diocese has also created a floor exhibit, “The Path of Souls: A Journey to Truth and Transformation,” detailing the diocese’s history of slavery and reconciliation through racial justice and reconciliation ministries. .

Convention attendees, including Provisional Alabama Bishop Brian Prior, said they looked forward to in-person meetings and the convention’s sense of being a family reunion, after a four-year hiatus. .

“I’m looking forward to reconnecting and seeing people I haven’t seen beyond the virtual world in a while” because of the pandemic, he said.

According to Caroline Bomgardner, executive secretary to Bishop of Maryland Eugene Sutton, about 650 volunteer positions have been filled, with some volunteers coming from as far away as Hawaii and the Virgin Islands.

“There is a real sense of excitement. There are volunteers in Baltimore who have never seen a convention and say, “The Episcopal Church is coming to town, let’s see it.”

The Very Reverend Sandye Wilson, acting dean of All Saints Cathedral in St Thomas, in the Diocese of the Virgin Islands, said distributing iPads and offering technical support to MPs gave her both a sense of homecoming and perspective.

“I was a deputy to 12 conventions of five dioceses; it’s wonderful to be here to meet and greet everyone as they arrive,” said Wilson, a Baltimore native.

“It’s a different perspective, serving instead of being served all these years. It’s a holistic view, being on both sides and it’s an opportunity to see everyone.

Likewise, Reverend Carol Burnside, who serves at St. Catherine of Alexandria Church in Baltimore, said she spent the morning offering directions as attendees arrived.

“I wanted to be here because the General Convention hasn’t been here in Baltimore since 1808,” she told ENS. “I thought it wouldn’t happen again for a while and I wanted to be a part of it.”

For 19-year-old Zora Stovall, volunteering was a wonderful opportunity “to gain valuable event experience and help out”.

Chris Gregorio, 25, a third-grade seminarian at Yale’s Berkley Divinity School, said he heard there was a need for volunteer coordinators and answered the call.

“It’s cool to be here. I learn more about the church this way.

Reverend Margarita Santana, Maryland Canon for Latin Ministry, said she was among those who will offer translation services.

“There are large Spanish-speaking delegations from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador. I am here to support the General Convention but also to work with the Latino clergy,” said Santana, who serves at the Iglesia Episcopal de la Resurrección in Baltimore and was also the first woman ordained a priest in the Dominican Republic.

Despite all the challenges, receiving COVID tests and knowing that there is a specific protocol in place to help those who may need it, is indicative of “all the care that has been taken regarding our health,” Santana said. “People feel safe, and that’s good.”

–Reverend Pat McCaughan is ENS correspondent, based in Los Angeles.

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