We need to talk: Episcopal-Muslim relations, war and peace, and even evangelism have new meaning since the General Convention last met in Denver in pre-9/11 2000. To address these realities, all are invited to five simultaneous "Conversations," set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Hyatt Regency, where open discussion will follow panel presentations in each two-hour session.
Addressing the topic "Christian Hope in a Post-Sept. 11 America" will be Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest theology professor and author Flora Keshgegian; Lyndon Harris of St. John the Divine in New York; Isaac Everett, who was music director at St. Paul's Chapel at Ground Zero; author and Duke Divinity School professor of spirituality and Black Church studies Michael Battle, and Lucrecia Littlejohn, Canon Pastor at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston.
Considering ways in which Christians, Jews, and Muslims can work creatively for reconciliation will be author and Duke Divinity School theology professor Ellen Davis; Leonard Schoolman, a rabbi who directs the Center for Religious Inquiry at St. Bartholomew's Church, New York City; Fatima Shama, a staff member of Muslims Against Terrorism; Lucinda Mosher, chair of Episcopal-Muslim Relations Committee for the Diocese of New York and theology professor, and artist Jessica Stammen, who was artist-in-residence at St. Paul's Chapel at Ground Zero.
Exploring war and peace in today's world will be George Packard, Bishop Suffragan for Chaplancies at the Episcopal Church enter; Stephen Holton, rector of St. Paul's-on-the-Hill in Ossining, N.Y.; US Air Force Reserves chaplain Kristina Coppinger; Deborah Stokes, a social work administrator in the Ohio Department of Health, and Daniel Appleyard, rector of Christ Church, Dearborn, Mich. The topic, "Who Owns 20/20?" will be discussed by Winnie Varghese, a Columbia University chaplain; Kwasi A. Thornell, Canon Vicar at Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati; Kevin Martin, a former congregational development officer for the Texas Diocese; Sarah Lawton, chair of the 20/20 strategy group and active lay member of the California Diocese, and All Saints Church, Oxnard, Calif., rector Anthony Guillén.
Delving into the General Convention theme "Receive, Repent, Reconcile, and Restore" will be a panel featuring Delbert C. Glover, retired businessman and former develpment officer of the General Theological Seminary; Caroline A. Westerhoff, Canon for Ministry in the Atlanta Diocese, and lay preacher, leader, and author; communities and congregational development missioner in Los Angeles, and Jaime Case, director of the Center of Hispanic Ministries at the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas.
In addition to the five topics, members of the audience also can learn more about Jubilee Justice in the church. Those who would love to attend more than one Conversation may watch videotaped versions of all the sessions during Convention.
"The whole event is meant to be a time of reflection and a nice ice-breaker before the legislative sessions get underway," says Cynthia Shattuck, Conversations coordinator.
After the success of a similar effort in 2000, The Rev. Rosemari Sullivan, secretary of the General Convention, invited Shattuck, former director of Cowley Publications, to undertake a reprise. Shattuck says she spent a year developing the five questions and networking with speakers for this program. "The questions are important not only to Episcopalians but to the whole world," she said. "They've become more pressing in the last year."