In his first pastoral address as Bishop of Fond du Lac, the Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter asked those gathered at the convention Eucharist to take out their smartphones and watch the video “Volkswagen Smiles.” In moments the Cathedral of St. Paul in Fond du Lac was filled with the sounds of laughter from hundreds of little speakers, accompanied by chuckles from the pews. Focusing on John 15:11, Gunter said that Christians, as members of the body of Christ, are “in the joy business.”

The see city of Fond du Lac hosted the diocese’s 140th annual convention on October 24-25. Worship included Evensong, the convention Eucharist, Compline, and Noonday prayer with an installation of rural deans. More than 200 people gathered for a diocesan family reunion at the historic downtown Retlaw Plaza Hotel. The gathering included a banquet and over a dozen display tables for delegates to browse.

Business sessions were relaxed and nonchalant as new members were elected to serve on various diocesan committees. A balanced budget was approved. A resolution to decrease the pledge to the national church was defeated with no member rising to speak in favor or against it.

The Rev. Geoff Ward, priest-in-charge of the newly organized St. Francis in Eagle River Mission, reported on the foundation of people committed to the congregation and their developing outreach and ecumenical programs. The mission’s building includes a 24-hour adoration chapel.

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The Rev. Jane Johnson and Cathy Cowling discussed the work the Commission on Ministry in the past two years to assist in discernment processes for both laity and those seeking ordination. The commission is using effective Mutual Ministry reviews.

Nick Kuehmichel and Kaleigh Kraft described the effect of diocesan youth ministry on their faith. Kuehmichel said involvement as a young person, and now as a youth leader, helped him recognize the importance of accepting people and inviting them to join the family. Kraft reflected on the national Episcopal Youth Event and mission trip.

Representatives of Nashotah House described a focus broader than three-year seminary studies. The seminary is launching programs to engage the broader community and become more effective in ministry.

The bishop also noted realities and challenges facing the Church: “We will experience setbacks and defeats. But we know that beyond the shadow of the cross is the light of resurrection, and if we abide in the love of Jesus we will bear fruit. And we will know his joy.”

Matthew Payne

Image of Fond du Lac’s convention Eucharist by David Skidmore

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