Besides the daily press briefing by selected bishops, some bishops are giving us a behind the scenes report of their meeting and their reflections on their work.
+Dan Edwards, Nevada wins the prize for the most detail:
His September 17 item covers the discussion of immigration and what God might be up to in our time. What opportunities to join God's mission do we have before us?
Yesterday, we dealt with evangelism in general. Today we dealt the Immigration Reform and evangelism with Latino/ Hispanic people. So immigration:
We all have our stories. One of our Nevada Episcopalians who supports Arizona Bill 1070 tells the story of an American citizen rancher who was killed by a drug dealer who came here illegally from Mexico. My story is different. When I was 25, an undocumented worker, at risk to herself and her family, saved my life from two American citizens who had just robbed me and were bent on killing me. Our stories are bound to shape our attitude.
Sept 18 the bishops heard a report of the Task Force on Same Sex Blessings and had discussion time in their table groups and gave written feedback to the task force. Other items that day:
Reform of the General Ordination Exam
The formation of The Episcopal Community – loyal Episcopalians who feel pushed out of the Daughters of the King – a good group.
Two groups of bishops separately went to Lambeth last year to consult with the Archbishop of Canterbury – one liberal, one conservative. Today they met with each other and found substantial common ground.
Safe Space For Theological Minorities In The Church – a group developing canonical protection for conservatives in the church generally and also for liberals who live in conservative dioceses – a plan to value and preserve theological diversity in the whole church and in each diocese.
Task Force On Theological Education – a report on improving relationships between dioceses and Episcopal seminaries and on how to know which non-Episcopal seminaries have substantial Anglican studies programs.
College For Bishops Resolution – a plan to separately incorporate the College For Bishops. This College has dramatically improved the unity of the House of Bishops and has improved the leadership of the bishops in their dioceses. Regrettably, the College is on the hit list of some leaders of the House of Deputies. Preserving our good progress may not be easy.
The Church Investment Group reported on a proposal to develop a common investment pool where dioceses, parishes, etc. could aggregate their savings to invest in instruments for higher returns than they could get investing separately.
Project for the Reconstruction of the Episcopal Church of Haiti – the kick-off of a $10 million capital fund drive to rebuild the center of spiritual, artistic, cultural, and academic life in Haiti. Upon touring the devastation in Haiti, Archbishop Thabo of South Africa said, “Africa must help.” We are being asked to join Africa in rebuilding the church in Haiti.
The Theology Committee followed up on its earlier report on Same Sex Relationships. The report has been supplemented by the responses of seven ecumenical and interfaith theologians. It will be published in The Anglican Theological Review to advance the conversation within the Anglican Communion.
Draft pastoral letters on the environmental crisis and immigration reform were presented for study before consideration next week.
There was a lengthy closed session on a pastoral matter.
The Presiding Bishop's sermon is here
Other blogging bishops
As usual for these gatherings, the worship has been strong, and we’ve been exposed to some new music. That’s always a joy for me. Tomorrow we continue our conversations on evangelism in the third millennium. The final day, which will include our business meeting, is Tuesday.
+Brian Prior, Minnesota
Your Tuesday editor's thoughts: The bishops' meeting is a good thing. There are many things bishops have to do in their vocation that only other bishops experience and to be together builds support and cuts down on isolation.
But doing business without the Deputies is worrisome. There are a few threads that are revealed in the daily briefings that lead one to think the bishops are going beyond consultation and into legislation. The fact that all their meetings are held behind closed doors with only the approved message being revealed leads to fear rather than collegiality in the church. Only a few of bishops are blogging this meeting. Most are just copying the daily briefings if they post at all.
There are undoubtedly some things that need to be confidential but this hyper secrecy is not good for the church. They cannot dispose of the Deputies even if we only meet once every 3 years. Wouldn't it be better to build trust through transparency and discussion with the rest of the church?
A symptom of this fear is the report that some bishop think the Deputies are against the College of Bishops. Why is this we vs them climate developing? I was present on the committee who discussed this at General Convention. We did ask about the cost as every area of the church was taking reductions in their budgets. We had a great discussion led by Bp Sean Rowe of NWPA who is a recent beneficiary of the program. Questions about costs and what is happening are hardly having a "hit list." A better approach might be some testimony by bishops about the benefits rather than circling the wagons into a separate corporation.
These September meetings used to be open, but they have been closed for three years. The last open one was September '07 in New Orleans with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Closing the meetings has an effect beyond the church: the discussion about immigration included voices that perhaps the people in Arizona and the rest of the country needed to hear. How good would it have looked to have invited the local media into the room and then gotten some secular coverage for those voices and the fact that it was TEC bishops who came here to learn and understand the full range of the issues and the results for citizens and non-citizens.
It is good that the bishops can discuss things in a civil manner, though I must say the old raucous debates were great theater. Now if they can include some openness and transparency in most all things we will be able to move forward as a whole church.