Summary of Saturday’s House of Bishops meeting

The following is an account of the activities for yesterday — Saturday, September 18 — House of Bishops meeting, as it was provided by The Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs:

  • Bishop Tom Ely of Vermont presented a meditation on “What is God up to in our midst concerning same-sex blessings.” Noting Vermont was the first state to recognize civil unions, an event that happened prior to his consecration, he never knew a time as Bishop when blessings were not permitted.  Not all were conformable but the diocese has maintained mutual respect, education and pastoral care. “If we live in the spirit, let us walk in the spirit,” he cited.
  • Bishop John Bauerschmidt of Tennessee pointed out that Nashville is sometimes called “the buckle in the bible belt.”  Nonetheless, the diocese is comprised of a diverse population, with support as well as concern about same-sex blessings. In Tennessee there is awareness that no consensus is apparent in society.  Most pressing to most people in Diocese of Tennessee, he said, is the need to remain together in common life in the midst of difference, realizing it will be hard work, “but the commitment is made.”
  • The Rev. Dr. Ruth Meyers, chair of the Standing Committee on Liturgy and music, spoke of C056, which directs SCLM to consult with the HOB as it collects and develops resources for same-sex blessings. A report on resources gathered will be presented at GC12. SCLM is working on four areas: Theological resources; Liturgical resources; Pastoral and Teaching resources; and Canonical and Legal considerations.
  • The Rev. Jay Emerson Johnson, PhD spoke of the Theological Resources Task Group, outlining the theological principles being addressed: vocation, spiritual discipline, covenant, household, faithfulness.
  • The Liturgical Resources Task Group work, said the Rev. Patrick Malloy, PhD, has developed a set of principles to guide its work: to develop rites that are consistent with the Book of Common Prayer and reflecting of the Baptismal covenant; liturgical principles that express Anglican liturgical qualities (literary, formal, holy, meaningful, metaphorical, performative). The work, he said, must have contemporary speech, liturgical prayer, and expressions of the Church, not of the couple.
  • The Rev. Canon Thaddeus A. Bennett and the Rev. Canon Susan Russell of the Pastoral and Teaching Resources Task Group are focusing on the pastoral resources to prepare couples for ceremonies, teaching resources to prepare congregations to better understand the parameters of the resources to be utilized, and developing best practices in preparing all couples to live their lives together as Christ’s people.
  • The bishops were invited to provide written responses to five questions posed by the SCLM, to help them with their ongoing work.
  • Bishop Ed Little of the Diocese of Northern Indiana announced that the Rev. Dan Martins of the Diocese of Northern Indiana was elected Bishop of Springfield.
  • During the afternoon session, a series of reports were provided: Bishops Larry Benfield of Arkansas, Bill Gregg of North Carolina, Barry Howe of Western Missouri and Sean Rowe of Northeast PA presented a report on the General Ordination Examination Process. Bishop Philip Duncan of Central Gulf Coast spoke about “the Episcopal Community”. Bishops Stacy Sauls of Lexington and Ed Little of Northern Indiana reported on a program for creating “safe space” for theological minorities in the church. Bishop Neil Alexander of Atlanta reported on the Task Force on Theological Education.  Bishops Joe Burnett and Henry Parsley presented an update on the Theology Committee report.
  • Bishops Ian Douglas of Connecticut and Pierre Whalon of Convocation of Churches in Europe shared information about an effort, initiated by the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church, on a draft of what an appeal might look like for the rebuilding of the infrastructure of the Diocese of Haiti. This draft is built upon the February 2010 Executive Council resolution which committed $10 million for the initial reconstruction, based on priorities established by the Episcopal Church of Haiti.