Sunday, May 29, 2011

Back on line

After much Internet frustration in Ireland, I am back on line from Cambrige where we arrived yesterday. Looking forward to a day of attending church, first at St. Be net's, the oldest church in Cambrige, then Kings college for evensong.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday May 24

We finally arrived in spite of bD weather volcanos and late flights. We are now waiting for our hosts to pick us up in a hotel lobby. Not sure what the rest of the day will hold. We are weary but otherwise fine.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Packing our bags

This blog will be reactivated starting on Monday May 23 as Laura and I prepare to leave for a two week trip to Ireland and England.
I will taking the camera and if all goes well and we can connect to the Internet, expect some good pictures!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

House of Bishops--Day Five, March 3.29.11

We only had one session today--on the Anglican Covenant. We had three Archbishops with us from Congo, Korea, and Canada. They shared with us their thinking about the needfullness of the proposed Covenant. I was surprised that all of them had serious reservations about it, in varying degree.

My experience back home is that most folks in our pews either don't know or care about the Anglican Covenant.

Trying to keep folks back home up to date, I was actively tweeting from the sessions. I had misheard or misunderstood the mind of the house that there was to be no tweeting. I have apologized for this, although I still think that we need to explore more fully what it we ought to share outside the meeting.

We had the afternoon off, a good chance to catch up on emails and writing projects.

In the evening we reconvened to have discussion on how we can better recruit young people for ordained ministry. I am happy to report that Arizona uses many of these techinques. I am especially pleased that for the first time in our history, all four of seminarians are under the age of thirty.

Tomorrow we will hear from the seminary deans themselves.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

House of Bishops, Day Four, 3.28.11

The focus today was on the relationship between Christianity and Islam. In the morning we had two excellent presentations by guest speakers Akbar Ahmed (former ambassador and Brookings Institute member) and Eliza Griswold (best selling author and daughter of former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold). Both helped us realize the depth of misunderstanding and sometimes hatred that exists in this country with our growing Muslim population. For example the major of Christian clergy consider Islam as "evil" and a "threat" to America. We also learned of some real efforts be a reconciling force. In Omaha Nebraska a "Tri-Faith" campus is planned where Christians, Jews, and Muslims will share a common center for worship and learning. In Boston, the cathedral houses a Muslim congregation which meets in their crypt.

I am happy that in Arizona we already have good interfaith relationships through the efforts of the Arizona Ecumenical Council and others. However, these relationships will continue to be severely tested. Another terrorist act will make the vast majority of Muslims in our country very afraid. Two Republican candidates for President have announced that they will have "no Muslims in their cabinet", and one lumped them in the same class as atheists.

On a lighter note, I enjoyed the fellowship of my bishops' class of 2003-2004 last night at dinner off campus. We always have a good time together and probably have more in depth discussions than we do at our formal meetings.

Tomorrow's topic is the Anglican Covenant, something which only church wonks seem particularly concerned about.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

House of Bishops, Day Three, March 27, 2011

Today was a sabbath day, meaning that we had no meetings only worship and lots of time to think, pray, and read. It was the perfect day for those activities, quiet, rainy, and foggy.

The highlight of the day for me was the joint Eucharist we held with five of the bishops from the Moravian Church. As some of you may know, not long ago the Episcopal Church entered into a full communion relationship with the Moravians in this country. I admit I don't know much about the Moravians (those interested may want to check out the article on Wikipedia). Theologically they are much closer to the Lutherans, but their liturgical life is "higher", and hence closer to us. Unity is very important to them, especially unity among Christians. Their original name was Unitas Fratrum, the Unity of Brothers.

What I did not know until tonight was that their founder John Amos Commenius (d.1670), was sent into exile and his church (which began in what is now the Czech Republic) was nearly destroyed. From his exile he commended his church into the care of the Church of England. Tomorrow will be the 400th anniversary of Commenius' birth, and I think he would have been pleased to see us together tonight. The Moravians love to sing, and during the service tonight we sang many of their traditional hymns. These words got to me:

Is this our high calling, harmonius to dwell,
and thus in sweet concert Christ's praises to tell,
In peace and blessed union our moments to spend,
and live in communion with Jesus our friend?

Tomorrow we reconvene and spend the day talking about the relationships between Christianity and Islam.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

House of Bishops, Day Two--March 26,2011

It was a rainy dark day here at Kanuga, but the presentations were thought-provoking and light-bearing.

We began by using a new form of Morning Prayer. We used the Prayerbook service, but instead of discussing the appointed readings at our tables, we used the ancient practice of lectio divina. Since we have to sit through so many words in the course of the day, it was nice to begin by entering into silence together.

The theme for today was "Reaching Young Adults with the Gospel." We got the background on generational differences from Lisa Kimball, who teaches at Virginia Seminary. I realized again what a bad job the Episcopal Church has done in this area, but there are signs of hope. Key for me was understanding that we don't do ministry for young adults we do it with them, and that means spending more time listening to their needs; where they are instead of trying to impose our programs and conceptions on them. Much of what was discussed the clergy of the Diocese of Arizona heard at our recent youth summit, but it was nice to learn about some best practices from the larger church. In the afternoon we heard about two projects involving young people, the Episcopal Service Corps which now has about 20 sites around the country where young interns are giving service to the church while living in community, and the Relational Evangelism project which trains 20-30 year olds to engage in conversations about God with their peers--they receive a stipend for this and it seems to be very effective. So, already I have lots of new ideas to try out at home!

Tonight we begin a sabbath time of quiet that will last until a service with some visiting Moravian bishops tomorrow night and a fire-side chat with our Presiding Bishop after that. I am looking forward to sitting by the fire and catching up on some reading, listening to the rain on the roof.

Friday, March 25, 2011

House of Bishops, Friday March 25

The Spring House of Bishops meeting at the Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina got off to a start at 2 PM today.

I had arrived a day early to participate in the Coaching Program for new bishops run by the College of Bishops. Our leader was David Renick whom the clergy of the Diocese of Arizona will remember as the leader of our clergy retreat two years ago.
David always has interesting insights, and it is great to spend time with him.

Most of the HOB time was taken up with hearing preliminary reports dealing with such topics as blessing of same gender partnerships, disciplinary procedures, Episcopal schools, etc. There are many of these, all mercifully brief.

Tomorrow we will get down to our major themes which center around ways to reach young adults, Christianity and Islam, and the Anglican Covenant. We will have outside speakers for these seasons. There is plenty of retreat time planned as well.

We welcomed as visitors one of the bishops from the Congo and the Archbishop of Korea. My former colleague from St. Jame's Los Angeles, Aidan Koh, is with the Archbishop as a translator, and it was great to see him again.

Of course the real interesting conversations happen over dinner or during social time when some of us sit on the porch overlooking the lake and smoke a cigar.

I will try to get a picture or two posted tomorrow.

Keep us in your prayers!