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…