It was a very challenging conversation. Not the kind that you want to stand up and walk away from, but one that calls you to lean in. Opinions, feelings, perspectives are not only deeply held, but also very well articulated. And yet, there is clearly a sense of openness to learning something new.
I really feel blessed to be a part of your House of Bishops for the Episcopal Church. Last week at our twice-yearly gathering, bishops from around the Church prayed together, learned together, and dug deeply into many pressing issues in the Church and in our neighborhoods.
We began our time sharing our stories in our table groups (these groups stay together for the three years between General Convention) with these three questions:
1. Share a story of a moment since last we met when you felt truly cherished. (When have you recognized your own belovedness as a child of God?)
2. Share a story that illustrates something meaningful about your personal spiritual practice since last we met.(How are you engaging in daily practices of prayer and scripture reading? Where could you use some support?)
3. Share a story of a time since last we met in which the love of God was apparent in some diocesan occasion, event and moment. (Recognizing and proclaiming the presence and love of Christ in the world.)
Between our worship, scripture reflection and sharing our stories framed around these three questions, we became grounded in and open to the work of the Holy Spirit in our midst. This prepared the bishops well to hear from the Presiding Bishop and invited guests on evangelism and the Jesus movement. For us to become the Beloved Community, we must continue to share each others’ stories as we share our own stories of our experience of Jesus.
All of this laid the foundation as we moved to the substantive issues of our time. this began with hearing (via a letter) from the parents of Carmen Schentrup, one of the victims from the school schooling in Florida. Carmen was an Episcopalian and one of my ‘Kanuga kids’. Their voices and the leadership from across the country helped shaped our conversation and response to the epidemic of gun violence in our country. You can find that here.
We moved forward from there to a discussion about sexual harassment and the #metoo movement, a topic that spans a depth of issues in the Church as in society. Sacred space was provided for people to share their stories and experiences which led to the following statement from the Bishops.
Our time then moved forward to preparations for the upcoming General Convention of the Episcopal Church in July of this year. We used a process from South Africa known as Indaba. This process provides space for all to share their perspective while all others listen deeply.
I feel blessed to spend time with such committed, faithful, wise sister and brother bishops who continue to support me and challenge me to follow Jesus and to serve the wonderful people of ECMN.
You can find a video re-cap of this time here.