Excerpts from the Office of Public Affairs about the House of Bishops’ annual meeting at Camp Allen in Navasota, Texas:
Bishops Martin Field of West Missouri and Bill Franklin of Western New York wrote on March 14:
Using three questions to guide their deliberations, bishops in table groups conversed on discerning the goals and focus of their work in this new triennium under the leadership of a new Presiding Bishop. The table groups discussed: How do bishops see the Spirit moving in the House of Bishops and The Episcopal Church now? What do bishops need and what do dioceses need to live into this call? What adjectives would describe ideal gatherings of the House of Bishops over the next triennium?
The plenary discussions resulted in a wealth of input that will be collated into a plan for the House of Bishops gatherings in the upcoming triennium with a clear vision and direction for their content, education, formation, and common life.
Bishop Chip Stokes, New Jersey and Bishop Jim Waggoner, Spokane wrote on March 13:
The day began with Eucharist presided by Bishop Rayford Ray of Northern Michigan. Preacher was Bishop Scott Mayer, Northwest Texas.
The bishops as a community have embraced the Lenten spirit of transformation. Bishop Mayer’s sermon focused on the idea of being willing, not to win with Jesus, but are you willing to lose with Jesus — associating with those our world so often dismisses as losers but are really the poor and marginalized. Bishop Mayer’s sermon continued a pattern evident during this retreat time in which bishops have explored the integral relationship of personal-story telling, including of individual brokenness with the church’s call to reconciliation. This, as our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry urges, is evangelism and results in new life. The post-communion song caught the tenor of this time: “O take me as I am, summon out what I shall be.”
Bishops Jay Magness (Federal Ministries) and Brian Prior of Minnesota wrote on March 12:
[W]e listened to a series of personal reconciliation reflections from Bishops Mark Beckwith (Newark), Jeff Fisher (Texas), Prince Singh (Rochester) and Wendell Gibbs (Michigan). Particularly poignant was Bishop Singh’s reflection that while growing up as a child in India that he learned to internalize the maxim that all people are not created as equals. His challenge was to go deeply within ourselves to do self-examination of our own racial attitudes. Then our table groups of 6-8 persons were seeded with a question to consider: “How does it feel for you as a bishop, for this House, and for the Episcopal Church to engage issues and experiences of power, privilege and race at this time?”
The House indicated it was not inclined to write another letter on racism and racial reconciliation. In contrast, the House is inclined to do what work that we have been asked to do in the two previous letters on racism. In terms of racial reconciliation we are inclined encourage one another to live into our baptismal vow to respect the dignity of every person.
Bishops Doug Fisher of Western Massachusetts and Ed Konieczny of Oklahoma wrote on March 11:
The afternoon began with meditation and Presiding Bishop Curry spoke about the theological and biblical foundations for his oft-quoted phrase “The Jesus Movement” and how that Movement integrates evangelization and reconciliation. Presiding Bishop Curry contrasted the two great commandments of love of God and neighbor with a self-centered perspective on the world that destroys society and creation itself. He illustrated this with a powerful biblical image of Jesus entering Jerusalem from the east for the Passover just as Pontius Pilate and the Roman army was entering from the west. Pilate was there to quell any possibility that this could be a new Passover in which the Jewish people would be set free from oppression. The Jesus procession (movement) of love and hope went through the city and the crucifixion on Friday, and the silence of the tomb on Saturday, and the earthquake of Resurrection on Sunday and that procession, that movement, continues to the present day.