It's been said that Anglicans have a high view of episcopacy and a low view of bishops. As the bishops of the Episcopal Church wing their way to Camp Allen (some 60 miles northwest of Houston) for their regular semi-annual meeting, Episcopalians of all theological stripes have ample reason to invoke that ironic aphorism.
I am not privy to the meeting's agenda, but it seems safe to assume that they will consider certain key items:
The bishops will vote on whether to depose the Bishop of San Joaquin, concurring with the report of the Title IV Review Committee that he has abandoned the discipline of the Episcopal Church. It is impossible to imagine a plausible scenario under which they will not do so, and by a wide margin. The issue is largely moot anyway, because Bishop Schofield will be the first to agree that he is no longer under the discipline of General Convention, its constitution, or its canons. But deposition is such an ugly and vindictive path to follow. Why not just send him peacefully to the Southern Cone, forswear litigation, and be about the work of building up a new Episcopal diocese in the San Joaquin Valley? Canon law has pretty much been thrown to the winds there anyway, primarily by the Presiding Bishop. But I've pretty well already said my piece on that.
The bishops will be briefed on and discuss the latest attempt to cross-breed some elements of DEPO with some elements of the Primatial Vicar plan with some elements of the Primates' Dar es Salaam plan of a year ago. This is important, but not terribly so. The reason it's pretty much a yawner is that, while it may help to hold what's left of Anglicanism together for a while longer, it does nothing to heal the fissures that have appeared in the last several months, nor does it seem able to impede the momentum toward final schism. A bolder stroke is needed to neutralize GAFCON.
The bishops will consider ongoing developments in the process that may lead to the adoption of an Anglican Covenant. Most of them don't like it in concept, let alone in execution, so it's difficult to see anything momentous happening on this front.
So there isn't the same level of suspense as there was last September at the New Orleans meeting. Probably the biggest issue that won't get talked about is just what the role and authority of bishops--either individually or collectively--is in "this church." Many these days are fond of pointing out that TEC is "episcopally led but synodically governed." Such admonitions are largely in response to the rest of the Anglican world addressing a series of requests over the last five years to the House of Bishops, with the implied assumption that they are capable of speaking officially for the Episcopal Church. Even the bishops themselves seem to take umbrage at such an implication.
But to make too sharp a distinction between leadership and governance seems to me a bit overwrought, and in a peculiarly American sort of way. Was there a House of Deputies at Nicea or Chalcedon? I don't hold bishops in any higher degree of awe than the next person, especially as the House of Bishops is largely populated by people my own age or younger! But I am still pretty keen on episcopacy, and don't see any problem with letting bishops govern as well as lead. There is a role for synods, but it shouldn't have anything to do with teaching or declaring doctrine.