Last week I talked about going to my first meeting of the Synod of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Well I am happy to say that 4 days later, I survived. During some of the parts I actually thrived- some sessions were very inspiring. Other parts of the sessions were a little less life giving. I found myself squirming in my seat and reaching for my iPhone to check Facebook. But all in all it was a good Synod and even in my strong introvert mode I met many wonderful people and was glad to have had the privilege of attending.
Some things were quite different from what I have been used to with Conferences and General Council meetings at home. One I was quite impressed with the commitment to achieving a consensus on issues. If people found that they were voting contrary to the majority of opinion, time was then taken after the initial vote to give them a chance to express their views, then another vote was taken, and if that did not pass unanimously then another vote was taken to see if we agreed to let the majority rule and not go by consensus, and then a final vote would be taken. It was a long process, but in the end, everyone knew that their voice had been heard. The hymns were in some cases different to what I was used to in Canada. The accents of people were different. There was greater use of technology at this Conference.
But on the whole, the similarities were much more apparent to me. First, if one closed their eyes and for a moment tuned out the Australian accent, as Mrs. X spoke here, I could easily imagine Mr. Y saying the same things on the floor of Toronto Conference. Just like Toronto, some people carry a lot of respect here on the floors of synod. Some talk much too often and say little. Some are very wise. Some are looking for joy. Some just like to stir things up. The faces were different, the accents were different, but the same sorts of characters in this gathering of 300 would find themselves easily at home in a meeting of Toronto Conference. Yes the two meetings take place 15,000 kms apart, and I miss my old friends dearly, but in some way I felt like I was back in Toronto because the people were in so many ways the same.
That is why I hate generalisations. Yes it is easy to stereotype people. On the basis of meeting me, one might decide that all left handed people are charming and handsome (please note the sarcastic tone here). Well some left handed people are gorgeous, others are not. Some people are convinced that people who vote differently are in some ways inferior to those who support the right party. But again some Labor/Liberal/Green/National/other people are wonderful, others are not. Some people in the churches are saints while others are jerks. Some well to do folks care deeply for the environment; others feel that God wouldn't have given us resources to use if God didn't want us to use them freely. No amongst every group there are people who care, people concerned only about themselves, people who work well with others, people who are lone wolves, people who struggle to fit in, and people who are able to work the room. Every group, no matter how homogenous it thinks it is, has diversity. And in that we are the same. So it is no wonder that I can be at home anywhere- for everywhere I go there are despite a few differences, many similarities to bind us together. Blessings.