Melissa Shirley

Melissa Shirley

Melissa Shirley 150 150 Diocese of Southern Ohio Annual Convention
Melissa Shirley

Christ Church, Dayton

Nominee for Lay Deputy to the 81st General Convention
Please describe your participation in the life of your congregation, the diocese, and the larger community

I am entering the last year of my second term on Diocesan Council, where I currently serve as the Recording Secretary. This work has helped me understand how the diocese operates and encouraged me to develop a working knowledge of the Diocesan Constitution and Canons. I am a graduate of the Southern Ohio Lay Leadership Institute (SOLLI) and past chair of the Christian Formation Commission. At the congregational level, I have served across numerous parishes in virtually every capacity open to a lay person. Together, my work at the congregational and diocesan levels has allowed me to understand many of the complex and interacting systems in the church help us to carry out God’s work in the world.

This past summer, I was honored and thrilled to participate in General Convention as the First Alternate Deputy. My colleagues were gracious to allow me time to be present on the legislative floor. I’ve learned how to navigate the many resolutions and have become more familiar with the policies and polity of The Episcopal Church. In 2006, when General Convention was in Columbus, I served many sessions in the House of Bishops, House of Deputies, and Episcopal Church Women Triennial as a volunteer. I have applied to serve on a legislative committee to support the work of The Episcopal Church, and hope to be selected to assist with Formation, LGBTQ+ ministries, or Racial Reconciliation.

Why do you feel God is calling you to serve in this position?

In 2006, I fell in love with General Convention. The power of thousands of voices lifted in prayer and praise; folks joined together from many time zones and countries; the excitement of seeing old friends, the profound joy of knowing that the decisions that take place have real impact on the lives of folks in churches… this is the point at which words fail to convey what it’s like to be at General Convention! I see serving as a Deputy not as a chore or task, but an opportunity to experience the working of the Spirit across 10,000 participants in powerful ways.

The Church body is an interconnected network of individuals, congregations, Dioceses, and The Episcopal Church organization. We need people who know not only what is happening at any one level, but also how the other levels interact and affect one another. I believe that I am one of those people.

Until this past term, I was not in a position in my life such that I was able to take the time to attend a long Convention. But life now once again allows for me to participate fully, regardless of the duration of the 81st General Convention. God has given me so many skills that can benefit the church: I have the ability to both analyze small details to find inconsistencies as well as perceive broad systems to understand the impact on others. I’m a teacher, and committed to sharing the outcomes and impressions of our time and work. I’m also a learner, and I learned a LOT this summer about the Church and its governance. I’d like to return to Convention as a Deputy so that I can apply this learning and my skills to support the work in the Diocese of Southern Ohio