Today began with Morning Prayer as usual, only it’s not the BCP. They are doing this innovative stuff that even the most progressive bishops hate. Instead of the Creed, we had an Affirmation of Faith that said Jesus loves children, but it omitted the creation, the fall, the birth, life, and ministry of Christ, the atonement, the resurrection, the Church, the sacraments, and our hope for everlasting life. If I had any hair, I’d tear it out.
Then we met with the Liturgy and Music Commission who reported on their work on same sex blessings. They’d have had a lot more credibility if it weren’t for the liturgical atrocity we had just endured. But on same sex blessings, they told us their process so far, their plans for future process, and the principles they plan to follow theologically, liturgically, and pastorally. We discussed it all in small groups and gave them written feedback.
In the afternoon we heard reports on:
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.
Then we heard a reflection on our gathering from a guest, the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt. Rev. James Jones. He commended us for our commitment to social justice, saying that social justice and personal evangelism are two sides of the coin of God’s mission. He expressed his hope that the Anglican Communion which shares our love of justice will learn the practice of kindness, citing John 13 in which Jesus washes the feet of the disciples. He notes that Jesus was doing a lowly job, a job that would have been done by women in that patriarchal culture. He spoke of how Peter’s challenge was to allow himself to receive this kindness and challenged us, as we try to live kindly, to be open to receive kindness.
He then pointed out something I had never noticed. Just one chapter before, Jesus had received this kindness when woman washed his feet. Bp. Jones said that Jesus needed to receive kindness from her so he could give it to Peter. He noted that Jesus' commandment was not to “wash the feet of others” but to “wash each other’s feet.” It was a mandate to mutual ministry, lest service be an indirect form of one-up-man-ship. He also noted that a woman ministered to Jesus echoing how another woman, Mary, had fed the physical Body of Christ, showing how right it is that women today should feed the spiritual Body of Christ.
John 13 is the only place where Jesus calls himself “Lord” – linking his lordship not to miraculous works of power but to humble service. Authentic service is mutual. It is an exercise in what Bishop Jones called “one another-ness.” He said – now note this carefully as I quote these gracious words of an English bishop – “One another-ness will someday transform the Anglican Communion from an inquisition into each other’s credentials.”
Major standing ovation.
Then we went to a Native American museum and watched hoop dancing.