This was all new to me. It was my first time at Triennial, it was my first time as a voting board member, and it was my first time serving as a chair at the convention. The days were very long but also very rewarding. Because it was my first time, I didn’t want to miss out on anything. I went to Morning Prayer, attended all the workshops I could, spent a significant amount of time sewing for “Days for Girls” and volunteered wherever I could.
The entire experience of the convention and gathering was energizing and motivating for me. I was eager to share my experience with my congregation and friends and I was excited to help make giveaways for the next triennial because I had just as much fun meeting new people as I handed them out as I did collecting them.
My most gratifying experience was the work I did for “Days for Girls.” This is a program where volunteers make beautifully colorful re-usable personal hygiene supplies for young girls in Africa. These supplies allow these young girls to leave their homes and continue their regular daily tasks with dignity and confidence during their time of the month.
My most memorable experience was Kelly Fryer’s Bible Study, entitled “Don’t You Dare Disengage.” She spoke about those under “God’s authority” who are expected to be humble and sober and how we are supposed to use our gifts for the good of community, to live harmoniously, and to leave vengeance to the Lord. But she really brought it home for me when she introduced the idea of being a “nice” Christian versus being a “good” Christian. She went on to explain that a “nice” Christian is the peacemaker, loves on others and prays for our leaders. But a “good” Christian stands up and speaks out against injustice and welcomes those who are different.
Kelly went on to tell this story of a Hispanic woman who visited a Sunday morning church service with her young daughter. As the two walked into the sanctuary a church member remarked, loud enough to be heard by all who were around her, as well as the two visitors, “who let ‘them’ in here?” Although many Christians around heard the comment, no one said anything. How could no one say anything?
At first I was outraged as I listened to this story. How could those so-called “Christians” allow someone to enter God’s house and have them to feel not only unwelcomed but probably enraged and angered at the hypocrisy. Then I thought about myself. Have I ever sat back and witnessed an unnecessarily unkind act and said nothing because I wanted to keep the peace. I recall how I painstakingly avoid upsetting a church member, especially those who maybe already unyielding when it comes to things like congregational changes and compromises. You know who I mean…those who complain about the minor insignificant things like changes in the worship music or a modification in the liturgy. I mean, we just want peace in the church so we can encourage involvement in our outreach, the children’s choir and whatever upcoming event our congregation is focused on. But is that always the right thing to do? Are we in God’s will at those times? Do we attend congregations full of nice Christians being polite and ignoring tough uncomfortable issues, not wanting to ruffle any feathers? I want to be bold in my faith and speak God’s truth.
I left the 2017 Triennial gathering wanting, not to be a “nice” Christian but desiring to become a “good” Christian, through the leading of the Holy Spirit by faith.
-Keia Morris, Board Member and 1st timer Triennial attendee