Meet the Deputation: Rev. Judy DesHarnais
Name: Judy DesHarnais
Faith Community: Messiah Episcopal Church, St. Paul, MN
I serve as a vocational deacon at Messiah. I serve with and alongside the Karen members of our congregation. They are refugees from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Most spent many years in refugee camps in Thailand. They have been in the U.S. for 3 to 15 years and many have become U.S. citizens. They were part of the Anglican church in Burma and Thailand.
Number of General Conventions attended: Zero. This would have been my first, but COVID restrictions on convention bar me as the second clergy alternate from attending.
Official role(s) at General Convention:
Serving as an alternate for the Minnesota deputation
Planning the Asian American-focused morning prayer service on July 13th.
Unofficially, I support the ethnic ministries booth on behalf of the Asiamerica Episcopal Ministries and am accompanying two Karen attendees.
1) Why did you choose to serve as a deputy to General Convention and what do you hope to accomplish or experience there?
I have long been interested in attending a General Convention, but work commitments did not allow me. Working with the Karen refugees and witnessing the many challenges they faced connected me with the national ethnic ministries and specifically the Asiamerica Episcopal Ministries. Witnessing the language challenges that continue to hamper the full inclusion of the Karen into the life of the church both locally and across the country showed me the need to offer translation of worship materials, educational materials, and materials for developing people for ministry. All of this requires funding and some requires a broadening of the rules to recognize that there are many gifts that are needed in ministry and that our rules for ordination can create barriers for those that did not grow up in the U.S. and with English as their first language. While many efforts have been made to accommodate the Spanish language, there are many others that are not accommodated. Highlighting this and finding ways to improve access drew me to want to serve as a deputy.
2) What gifts and passions do you bring to this ministry? How has serving in this way transformed you?
I grew up as an Army brat. Moving 20 times in my first 20 years left me feeling disconnected from a home. I strongly connect with heaven being my only true home. Having lived in three countries on three different continents I find that I am drawn to others who have been uprooted from their earthly homes. I feel called to serve as an ally to the Karen and to the larger Asian American community. I also feel called to build bridges between people of differing backgrounds.
3) How do you see the work of General Convention connecting to the ministry of ECMN?
ECMN has the benefit of a number of different ethnic communities. This gives ECMN a unique gift to bring to General Convention. While many dioceses have much larger Black, Latine, Asian, or Indigenous communities, few have all of them. The General Convention can serve to advance issues of justice that are important to ECMN. Working together, we can enhance our worship and the opportunities to grow as disciples of Christ and becoming the Beloved Community.