My dear Siblings in Christ Jesus,
With the current surge in COVID-19 infections caused by the Delta variant of the virus and the uncertainty this causes for the next few weeks, I have decided that it is prudent for the 2021 Education Day (Friday, October 22) and this year’s Annual Meeting of Diocesan Convention (Saturday, October 23) to be held entirely online (as we had to do last year).
This was certainly not my hope. The hall we were planning for the gatherings at ʻIolani School does not provide the space needed for six feet of social distancing. While the current surge might well – hopefully – have abated by mid-October, we cannot count on that reality. The Diocesan Support Center staff and Convention committees needed direction by mid-August for organization and logistics. So, all voting Clergy and lay Delegates need to be prepared for an online Annual Meeting of Convention (everyone is welcome to watch online as well). I also hope that an online Education Day can mean more people in the Diocese will take part.
The Convention Theme this year is “Remembering those who have gone before.” As a Diocesan ‘Ohana, we need to take some time to remember those who have died, but are still our spiritual guides. This includes those who died in our congregations during the isolation of the Pandemic (of COVID-19 and otherwise), but also our spiritual ancestors as we face a “new” normal and changed reality. While we are in the midst of the Pandemic, we are actively grieving for those we have lost and we are still looking to the future as a people of the Resurrected Christ. We can celebrate the new ways we have learned to be God’s Church and care for God’s people. Grief, joy, and hope are not contradictions, but realities of the human condition. It is from our ancestors that we can gratefully learn how to face the challenges of our time. We are strengthened by their faith. As Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:54-58: “‘Death has been swallowed up by a victory. Where is your victory, Death? Where is your sting, Death?’ Death’s sting is sin, and the power of sin is the Law. Thanks be to God, who gives us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord.”
As we did last year, I ask that all congregations celebrate the Convention Eucharist in all of our churches on the Sunday before Convention (October 17). Special lessons and prayers will be sent to all Clergy, Wardens, and Administrators. I will also provide a pre-recorded Convention sermon for the entire Diocese to be shared as each congregation thinks best.