Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring House of Bishops, Day 3

Being the Lord's Day, the schedule was appropriately relaxed (in welcome contrast to Sundays in previous meetings). Eucharist was at 10, with a meditation from Porter Taylor, Bishop of Western North Carolina, taking the place of the homily. His subject was the vow bishops make at their ordination to be faithful pastors to their people. Different in style than either of the two previous meditations, it was nonetheless rich and stimulating. I am feeling spiritually fed by these talks. Today there was no table group unpacking session, so we adjourned to the common area and engaged in informal conversations as we waited for lunch to be served. Such moments of casual exchange are arguably the most valuable aspect of these gatherings.

After lunch, various recreational opportunities were offered. I chose to go on a horseback trail ride with eight others. Interestingly, the last time I rode a horse was six years ago, and it was right here at Camp Allen (where I was reading General Ordination Exams). Following the ride, I had an extended conversation with a retired bishop over some mission-related issues. Then I did some work--processed a bunch of emails and scheduled a bunch of tasks.

After dinner there was an event--a regular one at HoB meetings--styled a "fireside chat." With over a hundred bishops in a large room, sharing one microphone, it was hardly a chat. The Presiding Bishop presides (how appropriate) but the agenda is open, whatever anybody wants to bring up. The subject that dominated the discussion was the need, perceived very strongly, to radically restructure the governance and management of the Episcopal Church. I will not go into any of the details in this venue, since we were not in formal business session and thus incapable of taking any official actions, and even if we were were in session, the sort of actions we might have taken would not be available to us outside a meeting of General Convention. Suffice it to say that everything--absolutely everything, by way of polity and governance--was "on the table" in this discussion.


Sarah Dylan Breuer said...

I'll be interested to hear about what kinds of measures were considered. I and a bunch of other people (it's not a movement with a central office or officers, so I don't even know who all is leading efforts to hold conversations) are in the midst of putting together "unconferences" and other similar gatherings to address these questions, with the idea that we'll learn a lot more about organizing and making decisions in 21-st century movements if we don't do it strictly in the echo chamber of gatherings of people already deeply entrenched in our current structures. Some bishops have expressed interest in joining such meetings, but one can be quite confident that the format will NOT be a single mic from which a single voice is most prominent!

Anonymous said...

Sarah I'm intrigued by some of your comments concerning "unconferences". The meaning of community, dialogue for common understanding (versus debate), and communication in general may be fundamentally and forevering changing due to social media, a good example is "Confessions of a Carioca". Social Media is egalitarian and broadens one's reach exponentially. If you haven't already, the use of this vehicle to supplement traditional communications may be something for your non-movement movement to consider. When used appropriately social media is not a community of 100 with 1 mic but can be thousands/millions with individual mics.
Rod Matthews