House of Bishops – Day One

Quite a roller coaster of a day yesterday. Our first time, as Episcopal bishops, to meet with the Archbishop of Canterbury to talk face-to-face about our ongoing issues in the Anglican Communion.

We began with a festive Eucharist in the hotel with a great sermon by our Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori and the lusty singing of hymns from “Holy, holy, holy” through “There’s a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place” (and, perhaps surprisingly, there is!) to “O Praise Ye the Lord!”

Then, we entered into table discussions and open plenaries sharing our Hopes and Concerns for this meeting. My hope was that we could find a way to assure the Communion that we will do what General Convention has asked us to do by exercising restraint in consenting to the election of  bishops whose manner of life will produce additional strains on the Communion. My concern is, that nothing we do will be enough for some — in our own House and in the Communion.

The afternoon continued with a brief address by Archbishop Rowan Williams and two questions to wrestle with: how far can we go in accommodating the request of the Primates’ Communique and what kind of “shared episcopal leadership” (within our own House) would we find  possible and helpful. Lots of pain and anguish from all sides in the open discussion which followed. But it was good for Rowan and the other Primates and visitors from across the Communion to see the kind of respectful and thoughtful conversation we can have together.

I learned nothing really new. No conversations we have not had before. But it was good for our overseas colleagues to engage with us. It would  have been helpful for the Archbishop to have done this three years ago.

Last night he preached a brilliant sermon at an ecumenical service at a Convention Center focusing on the plight of New Orleans and the role of Christians in bringing healing, reconciliation, and rebuilding to this city and to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Each diocesan bishop filed up with an offering (some as large as $10,000) collected by the Bishops of Louisiana and  Mississippi to assist. Tomorrow we will get our hands dirty in some work projects in both dioceses.

It was moving to see the Bishop of Los Angeles and the Bishop of Quincy coming back down the aisle after each making their offering. Mission does indeed unite.

Today, we continue with Bible study led by the Archbishop. And more conversation. May the Word speak in and through the many words…

6 Responses to “House of Bishops – Day One”

  1. thomas bushnell, bsg Says:

    once again, the language of “bishops whose manner of life will produce additional strains on the Communion” is one of two things. it is either code words for “queer”, or it is honest.

    if it is honest, then the election of Mark Lawrence will not be approved.

  2. ecubishop Says:

    I am simply quoting the General Convention language. Code word or not, it has little or nothing to do with Mark Lawrence. Another whole issue!

  3. rwk Says:

    God be with you Bishop. I am on the outside right now from many. I’ve felt TEC “waging reconciliation” against myself and my brothers and sisters in Christ when we in Virginia agreed to negotiate and stay out of the courts. I pray you can be a strong voice for both sides to respect one another and to put down their swords. There is no victory at all in this and the God is not glorified. I don’t know what the solution is but the current path is clearly unacceptable. I was raised in the Episcopal Church and see my self not as leaving it but as being driven out of it by those who see themselves as self-described prophets of a “new thing”. The pain is immense. I will pray for you and all the bishops just as I did at the GC 06, DeS, and so many other meetings…it just seems I hear no word. Then, neither did the apostles on Holy Saturday or even when they awoke heartbroken on Easter morning. May God let you be Peter running from the tomb with the words of the resurrection when this is meeting is done. Lord be with me, for trouble is near and there is none to help.

  4. thomas bushnell, bsg Says:

    that you think Mark Lawrence does not fall within the bounds of someone whose manner of life poses a challenge is a demonstration that that language is code language.

    the only challenge that matters is being gay, and the only people who must be protected from challenge are the anti-gay folks. why does posing a challenge to the member of the LGCM and Integrity not matter?

    if this were more than code language, then it should be possible to point to some other case where you think the episcopal church should refuse consent.

    hey, here’s an idea. we could declare that the communion demands we ordain no bishops who are gay and in a relationship. and, straight people with integrity cannot stomach treating gay people as less than themselves. how about then meeting both of those at once, and declaring that we will simply not ordain any sexually active bishops, period.

    it would be nice to see the people asking for sacrifices to be willing to make some, after all!

  5. ecubishop Says:

    Thanks, RWK. I agree there is “no victory” in this continuing struggle and hope we can find a way forward.

    Thomas: There is no question that gay and lesbian people are being called upon for the greatest sacrifice here. It is agonizing to be with Gene in the midst of all this. He is getting lots of personal support and is carrying it all off with strength and grace.

    Holding in tension our “fidelity to gay and lesbian Christians” and “fidelity to the rest of the Communion” is not easy and may not be possible. We do not wish to turn our backs on either.

    We will value your prayers toward that end.

  6. thomas bushnell, bsg Says:

    there is no need, as i point out, to expect gay people to carry the sacrifice on our own.

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