I have not posted anything here for a while, so I will share with you all the report from the House of Bishops that I sent to the folks in the Diocese of Arizona:
March 12, 2008
The spring House of Bishops Meeting in Camp Allen has just concluded and I want share my impressions with you before I head back to Phoenix.
We have enjoyed 6 days of fellowship, prayer (we worshipped together three times a day), great preaching and teaching against the backdrop of a springtime in rural Texas. I even managed to join some colleagues for a couple of hours of horseback-riding!
Much of our time together was spent on the hearing of reports and presentations, but the meeting was framed by two very emotional bookends.
The first was the announcement that in spite of intensive lobbying by many bishops of our church, the Archbishop of Canterbury has decided not to permit Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire to participate in any capacity at the upcoming Lambeth Conference in July. Although Bishop Robinson was the only American bishop not to receive a formal invitation, it had been hoped that a way could be found to have him present in an unofficial capacity. This news was greeted with great sadness by most of the House, and we are working to find ways support our brother during our time in England, and especially to invite our counterparts in the Anglican Communion to meet with him. I invite you to read all the documents that are posted on the Episcopal News Service website, including Bishop Robinson’s very moving response to the Lambeth decision, as well as a resolution passed by the House in support of him. Whether one agrees with him or not, it is important to remember that he is a duly elected Bishop and that his exclusion is hurtful not only to him, but to the integrity of the American church.
The other sad moment in our time together came when we took action to depose two bishops of the church who had violated their ordination vows by working to take parishes out of the Episcopal Church, Bishop John-David Scofield of San Joaquin, and Bishop William Cox, retired Suffragan of Maryland. This action was taken after long moments of prayer and silence reflection on the floor of the house. All of us wished to be as charitable and forgiving as possible, but the fact remains that both bishops have worked for many years to separate themselves from our church and in doing so have cause great harm to their dioceses. We consider our action to be a recognition of an existing situation, and not a punitive action.
Many of the presentations we heard focused, appropriately enough, on reconciliation and on our need to go to the Lambeth conference in as open, humble, and cooperative way as possible. We spent an entire learning about “faith-based reconciliation” and how it has been successfully practiced in our own church in around the world. We also renewed our commitment to anti-racism training.
As always, there were a number of practical items. We can expect, for example, some changes in our clergy medical insurance program that should result in considerable savings. We also received some training in dealing with media which will come in handy when we are interviewed by reporters this summer.
I continue to be impressed by the great wealth of talent and diverse thinking of the bishops of the American church, and their willingness to undertake decisions prayerfully and seriously.
A prayer used by our chaplains at worship each day sums it all up:
Give to your Church, O God,
a bold vision and a daring charity,
a refreshed wisdom and a courteous understanding,
that the eternal message of your Son
may be acclaimed as the good news of the age;
through him who makes all things new,
even Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen