- Yesterday morning, the last one of this meeting of the House of Bishops, we turned our attention to the state of theological education, with particular attention to the proactive recruitment of young people for ministry, both lay and ordained (as distinguished from waiting for them to self-select). The deans of all the Episcopal seminaries were there (save one who was absent due to illness). I have been on Commissions on Minsitry in two dioceses, Standing Committees in two dioceses, I've been an Examining Chaplain in two dioceses, I've been a General Ordination Exam reader four times, and I've taught in a diocesan formation program for both future deacons and future priests. Of course, I've also been a postulant, candidate, and seminarian, and now I'm a bishop! The process is forever being tinkered with because it's always perceived as inadequate, as not producing the fruit we would like to see. I must confess, I still see it that way, and will probably do my share of tinkering. But I will probably never get it completely right, and will be frustrated most of the time. And grace will still abound, and God will raise up laborers for his vineyard nonetheless.
- In the afternoon we had a business session and a "town meeting." Neither was very eventful. When the town meeting concluded, I had planned to stay for Eucharist and dinner, but the call of the open road was too strong to resist. I decided to take advantage of the few hours of daylight that were left and headed toward home. I made it over the Smokies (the most hazardous part of the trip) before dusk, though it rained the whole time, and then on to the outskirts of Nashville before getting a room for the night.
- Up and out the door just after 7:30 this morning. Made excellent time and covered the 400 remaining miles in just under seven hours. Talked by phone en route with a priest from outside the diocese regarding possibilities for ministry in Springfield. Got home in time to catch up with Brenda and then take a long hard walk, something I very much needed to do.
- So my first House of Bishops meeting is behind me. What a mixed bag. The opportunity to connect names with faces among my colleagues (many of whose names I have known for a long while) was very valuable, as were several chance encounter conversations that took place at odd moments. Much of the program was worthwhile, and I even came away with a couple of epiphanies about my new life and work. And in the midst of it all, there were certainly ample sources of annoyance over matters both trivial and substantive. On the whole, I'm very glad to be home.
Ten years ago, minus about six weeks, I served as the supply priest for Trinity, Lincoln six days before my consecration as Bishop of Springfield. Today I was there for the final regular scheduled canonical parish visitation of my episcopate. (I have a few more gigs on my calendar: March 7 in Mattoon, the Chrism Mass, the Triduum at the cathedral, May 30 in Cairo, and June 27 back at the cathedral--May 2 is available and not yet spoken for--but the every Sunday routine of my life for the past decade (in a larger sense, for the last 32 years) is at a major flex point.) As much as it could have been in the midst of a pandemic, this morning at Trinity was luminous. We confirmed eight adults, six of them qualifying as "young." My homily had to compete with the sounds of active young children. (I would much rather do that than have no kids in church.) Trinity is one of the exciting points of light in my ministry in the diocese. I took my time getting out of Lincoln because I wante