Wednesday, March 12, 2008

House of Bishops: Daily accounts for Monday, March 10, and Tuesday, March 11

A couple of days to catch up on here [boldface mine] - Daily account of the HOB, Monday, March 10:

  • The bishops began their day with Morning Prayer and small group Bible study.

  • The Rev. Canon Philip Groves, facilitator for The Listening Process, addressed the gathering. He is charged with monitoring The Listening Process. He expressed his appreciation of the contributions of the Episcopal Church to The Listening Process over the years. He added that other Anglican provinces have a listening process and processes are "frequently going on very quietly."
He reviewed the resolution that "requests the Primates and the ACC to establish a means of monitoring the work done on the subject of human sexuality in the Communion and to share statements and resources among us."

Groves called for the need to reflect, communicate, and engage.

"The Church must be diverse because humanity is diverse; it must be one because Christ is one," he quoted from Andrews Walls in The Ephesian Movement.

"Communication won't heal divisions, but without communication, you can't hear the division," Groves said.

"Our church has always been enriched by people who know themselves to be attracted to people of their own gender both in their commitment to mission and in their contribution to the spirituality of all."

He asked the bishops to discuss in small groups The Listening Process in their own dioceses or parishes including major concerns and major joys.

Groves spoke about the concept of Ubuntu, a word from an African language that means: "I am because you are. You are because I am. Our lives are interconnected."

He urged getting to know each other and develop relationships at Lambeth. He also suggested that the bishops come to The Lambeth Conference without pre-judged statements. "Pre-judged statements stop conversation," he said.

Groves assured that resources are being prepared for the bishops, including a book for all bishops in Anglican Communion.

He answered questions from the bishops on a wide range of issues.

There will be a communiqué at the end, he said, that will be a report on The Lambeth Conference.
  • The bishops gathered for Eucharist at 11:45 a.m.

  • Following lunch, the bishops heard from Nomfundo Walaza, a layperson and a member of Joint Standing Committee of ACC who is the CEO of the Desmond Tutu Peace Center. She spoke about Millennium Development Goals (MDG) #3, Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women.
She called the MDGs "a noble attempt, a shared future for all people." She added, "Gains have been made, success is still possible, and much needs to be done."

She said that there is a marked difference as to what happens to women depending on the cultural context. She presented shattering statistics about the treatment of women.

She believes that responsible leadership is required. "We need leaders for the church. We need a safe church for women to be who they are."

Following the small group discussion in a Q&A session she addressed issues of trafficking of women and children. "We need a global organization of men who are enraged and say that this must stop," she said. "We have to get men to a point of rage."
  • After a break, Bishops Ed Little of Northern Indiana, Bruce Caldwell of Wyoming and Tom Ely of Vermont presented a report about the participation of Bishop Gene Robinson at The Lambeth Conference. This was followed by a statement from Bishop Gene Robinson that he will not attend Lambeth. Many bishops then offered expressions of sadness and disappointment regarding the Archbishop's decision.

  • The day concluded with the viewing of a DVD about the progress made in the mission and ministry of the Diocese of Ecuador.
Media briefers for Monday, March 10, 2008
The Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith, Bishop of Arizona
The Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick, Bishop of Indianapolis

And the daily account for Tuesday, March 11:
  • The bishops began their day with Morning Prayer and small group Bible study.

  • Bishop Jim Curry of Connecticut, convener of Bishops Working for a Just World, spoke about the group which is a coalition of active and retired bishops gathered to support each other and other members of HOB to claim a public voice, leadership and advocacy for the church and the world. The bishops meet for training, legislative processes, and trying to demystify the process. They work with the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations. A "go-to" group when legislation is at a critical point such as issues on the Farm Bill.
Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana advocated contacting legislators. "They may not like to hear from us, but if we don't, someone else will do it for us. It is not unexpected or unwelcome."

The bishops were briefed by the staff of the Office of Government Relations (OGR) on the MDGs, the Farm Bill and the Jubilee Act for Debt Consolidation. Maureen Shea, OGR's director, announced there are approximately 22,000 members of the Episcopal Public Policy Network. She presented questions for small group discussion: What are the public policy issues (local, national, and international) most important in your diocese? What obstacles do you face in being involved with public policy issues? What could the Office of Government Relations do to help you get past those obstacles?

John Johnson, OGR's domestic policy analyst, spoke of healthcare, and the millions who are uninsured "and don't know it." Healthcare could be an important issue in the next Congress, and for the HOB -- what does the HOB want to say about healthcare?

John also reported that the climate change legislation -- the Warner Lieberman Bill -- is moving in the House "for the first time, ever." A key benchmark in order to avoid the most catastrophic changes, he said, is that "our nation and other nations have to reduce carbon emissions 15-20% by the year 2020." The bill, he added, is headed for debate and "we endorse."
  • The bishops gathered for Eucharist at 11:45 a.m.

  • Following lunch, the bishops heard a presentation on "Title IV: Of Accountability and Ecclesiastical Discipline: An Overview of Disciplinary Structures and Proceedings," presented by members of the Title IV Task Force: Steve Hutchinson, Duncan Bayne and Bishop Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina. They outlined the process and a theology for keeping the church safe.
The presenters stressed this plan was not final; rather they were seeking comments from the bishops on the draft.
  • Linda Watt, chief executive officer of the Church Center, presented an overview of the reorganization of the Church Center.

  • Bishop Bruce Caldwell of Wyoming addressed Theological Education, calling the current times an opportunity. He said the Presiding Bishop appointed a steering committee to serve HOB in this area and to dialog with seminaries. Serving on the committee with Bruce Caldwell are bishops Neil Alexander of Atlanta, David Alvarez of Puerto Rico, Tom Briedenthal of Southern Ohio, Joseph Burnett of Nebraska, Tom Ely of Vermont, Bill Gregg of North Carolina, Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan, John Rabb of Maryland, Carolyn Irish of Utah, Bud Shand of Easton, Pierre Whalon of Europe. The bishops' input was invited to be shared later with seminary leaders.

  • A comprehensive update on the Healthcare Coverage Feasibility Study was presented by members of the Church Pension Group: the Rev. Canon Pat Coller, Jim Morrison and Tom Vanover.

  • Bishop Gary Lillibridge of West Texas reported on the Windsor Continuation Group, formed by the Archbishop of Canterbury on February 12. Lillibridge and six members from other provinces of the Anglican Communion met for the first time last week in London. They will meet two more times prior to The Lambeth Conference. He said that one of the challenges is the status of the Windsor Report which is "understood differently in other parts of the Anglican Communion." The committee will consult with as many as possible.

  • Following Evening Prayer and dinner, the bishops will participate in a conversation about The Lambeth Conference.
Media briefers for Tuesday, March 11, 2008:
The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles
The Rt. Rev. Wendell N. Gibbs, Jr., Bishop of Michigan

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