Tuesday, March 20, 2012

House of Bishops, Day 5

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.


Unknown said...

Of course, when the leading theology is one of "do what feels right" then the liturgy will reflect that attitude.

Now as to the bow tie it is the mark of a true a gentleman, and we should always be prepared to don that most Anglican of neckware choices. One rule is never to don stripes if you've not served intend regiment. I've got several I could loan you. <:)℅ (It's supposed to be a bishopin a bow tie)

Unknown said...

Sorry, autocorrect kicked in, the words were "in the" not "intend".

Undergroundpewster said...

Just why would the subject of the divergence of thought in the church over what mission is, exactly, be a "delicate" subject?

Because it might cause emotions to rise?

Because people might dig in their heels?

Sounds like a missed opportunity to try to practice the "love your enemy" instruction. Tough love is okay too!

Bishop Daniel Martins said...

UP, it was delicate because the Presiding Bishop was at the same table, right next to me. But I didn't miss an opportunity. Quite the opposite: I named the elephant in the room.

Undergroundpewster said...

What a matchup!

Gerry Smith said...

Hope we have an opportunity to hear how that dialogue went.....assuming there was some dialouge.

Father Thorpus said...

Bishop Martins, thank you for these reflections. It's great for the clergy and people to get a view inside the HoB that's not just journalistic. Actually strengthens my hope for the church!

Pam D said...

Bishop Martins, which "elephent in the room" did you name when at table with the PB?

Anonymous said...

The Elephant in the room is going to be any sense of Christian mission that is divergent from the following thoughts:

"Christianity no longer enjoys the privileged position in our society it once did. We must learn how to operate as a minority in a hostile environment. This means being able to engage unchurched and dechurched people at the level of their felt needs, and show them how knowing Jesus can make their lives and the world better."
".....The goal is to make the work of mission less intimidating by training our members to a point where they are confident and joyful about doing what they are called to do."
"....The whole process of change must be constantly surrounded by prayer. Spiritual warfare will follow every phase of the implementation of this vision. We need a cadre of experienced and faithful and courageous "prayer warriors.""

This doesn't define it as clearly as it ought to be, but then the BCP catechism does make the Mission of the Church pretty clear -- the problem is what some people can do with a "clear" statement and spinning it, or redefining it, into something much more vague. Like the mission of the Church "is accomplished when" (that is a very dangerous statement) these things (such as eradicating measles worldwide) are "undertaken" (no accountability there, either).

Bishop Daniel Martins said...

Pam: What Rob Eaton said.

Anonymous said...

Those are in fact the bishop's words to his diocese when talking about the mission of the Church, in the context of the vision he has been articulating.
I figured if he was sitting next to Bishop Schori, we might as well hear what he might have said using his own words.
: )

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