The smallest diocese to ever host a modern General Convention has set an extremely high standard of hospitality in our church. This sums up virtually every comment I received in Salt Palace hallways, hotel elevators, at receptions, on the streets, and in business meetings. You, who have blessed our diocese these past years have now blessed the entire Episcopal Church with your dedication, love of the church, and love of Christ. I truly believe you did the Lord’s work during GC78. I am proud of you, humbled by you, and inspired by your witness to our Episcopal Church and to God.
Each day brought a new joy to me as I saw another, and another, and yet another member of our diocese quietly making the General Convention and people’s lives better. When I walked through the Salt Palace door each morning, Nancy Tanner and Russ Pack had already put in two or three hours as they coordinated 579 volunteers. Many volunteers put on their aprons and stood ready to serve their church—each greeting the world with a smile knowing it would be the initial contact someone would have with our diocese.
From both in the congregation and at the altar, I watched many volunteers serve at our daily Eucharist services. I saw dozens more from our churches praying beside me. I knew many more—thousands more—were watching our diocesan produced webcasts at the Eucharist. I presided under the red rock backdrop of the worship space that reminded me of the beauty of not only our land, but of our people. I prayed and listened to others from our diocese as they played drums, spoke and sang all to glorify God. I listened to our Host Diocese Coordinator, the Rev. Libby Hunter pray from the pulpit knowing of the year she graced our lives with a calming leadership along with Barbara McKechnie.
I looked out from the stages at the Salt Palace and at Pioneer Park during the anti-gun violence march and saw so many faces from all over our diocese united in witness as one. Again, I knew how faithfully—but silently—our Pat Peterson worked as one to make a march and the message of over a thousand people so meaningful.
Our deputation prayerfully and with grace considered and voted on resolutions that are changing the very face of our church. Our deputies offered their spirited but respectful debate determining our future.
A few doors down, I watched people pause at our Utah booth. More volunteers graciously treated our new friends from all over with the best of Utah. With that, I don’t mean just the taffy, moose antler hats and pins—I mean the people. I am delighted that so many watched the videos in the booth and learned of our heritage. It is now a heritage with a new chapter called GC78.
Additionally, I thank all those from Utah who made the ECW Triennial a joy. Again, the Utah hospitality brought a long ovation at the end of that meeting that echoed through the Salt Palace.
Of course there was so much more than what was going on at the Salt Palace. I know kids were laughing and playing each day at the kid’s program under Canon Becky Ball across the street at the Marriott Hotel. I know other ministries and receptions were being enriched by your presence. I am grateful for the comments I received from the Bishop’s spouses about their meetings, outing and service project as they also discovered the beauty of our diocese and its people. Amy O’Donnell coordinated all of these with great precision and grace.
Wednesday night, July 1st, was again one of the benchmarks that will make GC78 in Salt Lake City one of the most beloved General Conventions in our church history. There was a bit of all of us in the Utah Showcase, as those who had already fallen in love with our state and those who had already been touched by your hospitality saw and heard of the state we all knew existed, but was somewhat of a secret beyond our borders. Again, it was a flawless performance by both the participants and those who put in on for us. We also showed the world that interfaith partnerships work and that God is the beneficiary of the partnerships. Our friends at the LDS Church made that night possible.
Finally, I am so proud of what many of you did at your churches and certainly at the Cathedral and at the Episcopal Church Center of Utah. I know Karen Pena’s Turnkey staff put on 41 events with food over 10 days. I watched her staff offer the same grace for the last event as staff members did for the first event. No other diocese could have or would have done such hospitality. No other Cathedral has ever done so many programs as did our Cathedral Church of St. Mark. Dean Ray Waldon led a huge effort to welcome the Episcopal Church to our cathedral. Again, dozens of volunteers created a joy and a home for people to experience God’s gifts of music, culture, the St. John’s Bible and above all a church.
May you feel the spirit of the church as members from over a dozen countries return to their homes with your gift of hospitality.
God Bless you all,
+Scott B. Hayashi