An unexpected benefit of the General Assembly for me was meeting other Presbyterian bloggers whose work I had been reading.
Along the edge of each meeting room sprang up an informal "laptop row" as we congregated around the electrical outlets. The Office of the General Assembly had thoughtfully placed a set of power strips among the end seats. This made for a mutually helpful community among the compulsive typists – as well as some strange ideological bedfellows.
There was not an internet connection in the convention center, though there was an intranet to LES, the Assembly's business tracking system. This was a good idea, as there would no doubt have been a great deal of distracting emailing going back and forth across committee rooms and even the assembly hall itself otherwise. There was wifi across the street at the Sheraton, though, so at every break a troop of laptoppers would head over to the hotel lobby.
At once such email-checking break I was sitting in lobby when one of the advocacy group leaders came by with another fellow in tow. I started bantering with the group leader, who mentioned to the stranger that I was blogging the Assembly. The following dialogue ensued, beginning with the other guy.
"I am blogging the Assembly, too."
"Oh great – who are you?"
"Eagle and Child, glad to meet you." [Hand extended.]
"Gruntled Center." [Handshake returned with a smile.]
"You're Gruntled Center? I have been following your stuff!"
We then settled in to talk for an hour, which led to pulling out laptops and emailing stuff to one another as we talked.
I met several other bloggers in the course of the Assembly – in the hotel lobby, sitting in front of me in church, even sitting next to me in Assembly meetings writing the next day's blog. We did not all agree, certainly, but we did form a noticeable community – one that had some impact on the course of the Assembly and, I hope, future church discussions.
Eagle and Child, by the way, is a fine blog, part of the Presbyterian Bloggers Ring listed at the bottom of my blogroll. I commend that site, and ring, to all.