Today the bishops are observing 24 hours of sabbath with their only commitment being to celebrate the Eucharist together. Saturday they heard presentations on the current state of the economy and the activities of the US Congress.
The Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith, bishop of Missouri writes of the presentation on the economy:
Professor McFarlan, (Episcopalian and professor at the Harvard Business School) in about an hour, sketched out the details leading up to the current situation, the depth of the problem, and how we might emerge from it. Honest talk without a tone of doom and gloom.
Smith is grateful for the respite and time to process all the presentations but in case you think it is all fun in the sun for our bishops:
I am a little stir crazy from all the sitting around, and would be glad to get outdoors for some exercise. The setting in the mountains of Western North Carolina is, theoretically, well-suited for the likes of this. I say theoretically, because it is pouring rain at present (Sunday morning) and about 38 degrees. This is my third visit to Kanuga in March, and this is the sort of weather I have found here every time.
The Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon appreciates the meetings for the support and collegiality of his sister and brother bishops and reflects on the joy of singing in the bishop's choir (who will soon have a new CD out to support Episcopal Relief and Development):
A saying attributed to St. Augustine is that those who sing, pray twice…
Despite the stress and exhaustion of our meetings (for they are often very emotional and difficult), singing in the choir provides me with the possibility of refreshing my faith at its most basic level. I highly recommend it, Gentle Reader. Being a bishop tries one’s faith. Singing with my sisters and brothers, often clapping our hands and playing percussion instruments, helps restore, heal and deepen it.
Who’s that big bishop crying in the back of the choir?
The Rt. Rev. Kirk Smith, bishop of Arizona also writes about the session on the economy and the role of the church to combat fear and offer hope. He offers us some insight into work that happens "in between" official business:
Today (Sunday) is a very light day. It is an intentional "sabbath time," a day to relax, rest, (do laundry), and digest what we have heard the last few days. We had church this morning, and of course there are the meals. The video I've included shows us in the dining hall at lunch. The dining hall is where much of the real work of the HOB gets done. While enjoying great southern cooking, it is also the place to catch up with old friends, discuss the business of the church, and to do those vital "bishop to bishop checks" of clergy looking to move. I have about ten names I need to get a reference for while I am here.
The Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards, bishop of Nevada, a newer bishop talks about the sense of care and concern within the diversity of the bishops:
Before I ever attended a HOB meeting, I thought this bunch would be disputatious whenever they were not being rancorous. I hear that used to be true. But no more! These folks care for each other, pray for each other, support and sustain each other in ministry. God knows we are not perfect. But the feel of worship and fellowship incarnates Christ as well as any group of people I have ever been with.
This is what its like when the church gathers. I know this is how it often is in our parishes. Not always of course. And the HOB has certainly had its rough patches. But the leaders of the church today are leading us into an authentic unity that allows for diversity.
The Rt. Rev. Stephen Lane, bishop of Maine also finds the worship at the meetings a blessing:
We bishops normally preside at worship, often daily, in a variety of contexts. It’s always necessary to pay attention to the particular customs and habits of the community one is in. Consequently it’s hard to truly worship. Not so at the House of Bishops. You can see the bishops really settling in to worship and prayer. I realized today that worship is probably the thing I like best about the House of Bishops.