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Delivered on November 2, 2019
The 182th Annual Convention
The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana

by the Rev. Canon Shannon Rogers Manning

“Telling a story is like reaching into a granary full of wheat and drawing out a handful.
There is always more to tell than can be told.”

American Novelist Wendell Berry is right, there is no way to completely tell a
story…no way to completely capture a moment, a ministry, a call in these few words.
There are always other stories to tell, other lessons to be learned, other handfuls of
grain to be drawn from the granary. There is the grain that slips through our fingers to
be drawn out for our use on a different day—the grain that remains in our hands to be
shared and fashioned into something life-giving—and even the grain that is caught by
the wind and is scattered to places we cannot know or see. Yet, in the wonderful
economy of God, none is lost. All of it finds its place.

Bishop Thompson, I am gathered together with Canon Kellogg, your Deans and this
community to celebrate the 10th anniversary of your ministry among us as bishop. And
yes, I have worked alongside you long enough to know that I need to make these
remarks short and sweet. But, in this moment, as we look at these pictures, we gain a
brief glimpse into this handful of wheat in our hands. And, what I, and so many
others, have come to respect and admire about you is that, through the lens of the
deep, abiding, daily attention to your faith, you see the boundless potential of this deep
store. In ways that are visible, and in far many more ways that can only be felt, you
have held and supported the vision of this particular corner of God’s kingdom. It is
evident in the faces of your clergy who support and encourage each other and
faithfully lead their congregations. It is evident in the churches that are thriving under
your leadership. It is evident in the incredible group of lay people who are finding
their way through the ordination process and see their place as leaders in the Body of
Christ. It is also evident in the initiatives that find life and breath in our pews, down
our boulevards and streets, and along our coastal waters. What is also true is that in
these grains of wheat are also found the hard decisions and the heartbreaks…the
struggles and the challenges that we face as the church. As bishop, it is your role to
hold all of these pieces together.

At your ordination, you vowed to encourage and support all baptized people in their
gifts and ministries, nourish them from the riches of God’s grace, pray for them
without ceasing, and celebrate with them the sacraments of our redemption. You
have stepped fully into these vows and have fulfilled them faithfully. You have held
the tension of this great task that was laid on your shoulders. You have carried this
load. When leaven is added to the wheat, something entirely new emerges to sustain
and feed us. Wendell Berry said that we are perfected by one another’s love,
compassion and forgiveness…indeed we are perfected by grace. The grace is in the
leaven and you have been that for us. As was stated in your ordination, you have
nourished us with God’s grace.

And, through it all, you have modeled for us the very best of what it means to be a
marine, a husband, father, friend and grandfather. You are Bubba to those 2 (soon to
be 3!) babies and we know that you relish every second with them, and they, you.
Rebecca, we thank you too for loving this community and our bishop so beautifully—
for your hospitality, engaging spirit, boundless support and for your undying love of
all things Louisiana…especially when it comes to Mardi Gras….and wigs.

So, I stand here…alongside the people of this diocese…and we offer our thanks that
you said yes ten years ago. We all look forward to reaching deeply into the granary and
continuing to write the pages in this story that are yet to come.

Photographs from the last 10 years of Bishop Thompson’s ministry:

 

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