Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday (St Cuthbert)

This was the final day of the House of Bishops meeting. We woke up to lightning, thunder, rain, and cooler temperatures--a marked change from the warm and pleasantly sultry days we have been enjoying.

The meditation after Morning Prayer today was given by Julio Holguin, Bishop of the Dominican Republic. He spoke to us in Spanish, so this time it was the anglophones who had to don headsets and avail themselves of the services of the two-person simultaneous translator team that has been with us since we got here. His subject was the bishop's duty to lead the church in mission. This is, of course, a subject very close to my heart. In our table group discussion, I raised the delicate subject of the divergence of thought in the church over what mission is, exactly. It does no good to exhort one another to mission-mindedness if we're not actually talking about the same thing.

Before lunch, we also heard from Bishop Justin Welby of the Diocese of Durham, who was our invited visiting observer from the Church of England. He spoke very winsomely of the clearer insight into the Episcopal Church that he has gained during his time with us.

In the afternoon, we had our only true business session--the the Presiding Bishop doing precisely that for which her office primarily exists, and following Roberts' Rules. We approved a statement of greeting to the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose resignation (effective at the end of the year) was announced late last week. The primary item on the agenda was the "enchanced DEPO" proposal that was introduced yesterday. This presented me with my first opportunity to speak in the HoB in actual debate (I spoke in favor). I was a little nervous (!), so I used my iPad to remind me of some points I had jotted down after lunch. There was a handful of fairly non-substantive amendments that were proposed and approved, and then the motion itself was adopted overwhelmingly on a voice vote. This is a good thing. Not an earth-shatteringly good thing, perhaps, but a good thing, nonetheless.

We had a closing Eucharist before dinner, with the Bishop of Kansas presiding and the Bishop Suffragan of Texas preaching. It has been the custom in the House, apparently, to dress up a bit for the final dinner. I am not given to that sort of thing, nor did I come prepared to do so. I did, however, assure everyone that I do own a navy blazer, since that seemed to be the uniform of the day. I draw the line, though, at bow ties. Not gonna go there.

A word about worship at House of Bishops: I would not want to be in charge (well, actually I would, but still...) because there's no pleasing everybody. The music was led by a frighteningly talented and able musician (Dent Davidson, from Chicago). I would certainly have preferred more music from a place closer to the center of the tradition and less from the margins. I don't mind a little new stuff, but I miss the solid familiar stuff. And the services themselves seem not to have been put together by people who know how to "think liturgically"--or even pay attention to texts and rubrics, for that matter. A gathering of bishops should be able to do better.

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