Ah ... free time. The plenary schedule finally lightened up today. My own schedule, however, did get an early start, with a 0730 gathering of Communion Partner bishops. We were never actually all together--some aren't here, or aren't still here, and among those who are, there was a lot of coming and going due to conflicting obligations. We broke for breakfast around 0830 and then regathered until about 10.
At that point I kept an appointment with a reporter for Episcopal News Service who wanted to interview me about my experience of this meeting of the HOB. I didn't tell her anything I haven't already written in this venue. She was quite solicitous, but my frustration about such things is that, out of our twenty minute conversation, there may be two things I said that will get quoted in her article, and maybe or maybe not in an appropriate context. I understand that's how the system works, so I'm not getting worked up.
So we didn't convene in plenary session until after lunch. Apart from singing Happy Birthday to the Presiding Bishop and the Bishop of Western Kansas, there were two highlights of the afternoon:
- Canon Mark Stevenson, head of Episcopal Migration Ministries, gave a superb presentation on the work of that ministry of the wider church. Given the current climate of suspicion toward refugees, both within governmental bodies and among the public, they do face their challenges. EMM is a long-established agency; they've been around since 1938, nearly eighty years. They do work right out of Matthew 25.
- Bishop Mark Lattime of Alaska gave us an orientation on the September meeting of the House, which will be in Fairbanks. While our main meetings will be in a comfortable hotel, there will be opportunities for field trips by small aircraft to some of the native villages where the Episcopal Church has long been incarnate in that diocese.
Between our adjournment and dinner, I took the opportunity for some more walking. Yesterday's snow is gone, but it is miserably cold and rainy. This is why I never have pleasant memories of Kanuga; we're always here in March!
After dinner, we observed one of the mainstays of HOB meetings, the Fireside Chat. With the number who are here, as you can see, it's not a cozy affair, despite its name. It's also not, strictly speaking, "chatty." It's pretty well scripted, though there is opportunity for passing the microphone around and engaging in a modest amount of give and take. The big topics tonight included lots of information about goings-on in the Diocese of Haiti, which is in the midst of some pretty nasty conflict, and an extended presentation from the chair of the House of Bishops Planning Committee about the shape and character of future meetings. For one thing, it looks like they'll eventually be shorter by one day. I can give an Amen to that.
I feel like a horse who can smell the barn and has an urge to turn a trot into a gallop. One more day, and then, homeward bound.