The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC (Diocese of Western North Carolina) from March 8 to March 12. The following is an account of the activities for Friday, March 8.
In their first meeting since General Convention in July 2012, a sense of unity and good spirit among the bishops was evident.
The theme for the spring retreat meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Godly Leadership in the Midst of Loss. The schedule calls for prayer-filled sessions, and bishops participate in daily Bible study, reflection and worship.
Morning Prayer included a reflection on Godly Leadership in the Midst of Acute Loss, presented by Bishop Laura Ahrens, Diocese of Connecticut. Bishop Ahrens spoke powerfully of her experience as a pastor and church leader in the days following the tragic shootings in Newtown. “There’s no one to impress when your heart is broken,” she said. “The cross reveals violence and speaks forgiveness offering new life. The love revealed in the life and witness of Jesus speaks to a peace.” https://www.ctepiscopal.org/Default.asp
The emcee for the day was Bishop Dean Wolfe, Diocese of Kansas http://www.episcopal-ks.org/
The afternoon was devoted to a presentation and panel discussion on Gun Violence. Vincent DeMarco of Johns Hopkins University and national coordinator of Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence made a presentation. DeMarco invited the bishops to bear witness to the need to confront violence in our society. He listed four characteristics of the church which contribute to the power of its voice: moral authority, grass roots presence, diversity of its membership, and the media pays attention to religious voices.
The participants in the panel discussion had a variety of experiences but a common commitment to ending violence. The panelists were: Bishop Mark Beckwith, Diocese of Newark www.dioceseofnewark.org/; Bishop Mariann Budde, Diocese of Washington www.edow.org/; Bishop Ian Douglas, Diocese of Connecticut , https://www.ctepiscopal.org/Default.asp; Bishop Ed Konieczny, Diocese of Oklahoma www.episcopaloklahoma.org/; Bishop Jeff Lee, Diocese of Chicago, www.episcopalchicago.org/, and Bishop Eugene Sutton, Diocese of Maryland www.ang-md.org/.
The panelists shared personal stories and pastoral observations on various aspects of guns and issues that are associated with them. Following the presentations, the bishops engaged in table talk focusing on three questions: What might we do together as bishops of The Episcopal Church to challenge gun violence? Short term? Long term?
Bishop Steven Miller of Diocese of Milwaukee discussed a pastoral teaching on violence in our culture.
Bishop Laura Ahrens spoke about the March 25 Stations of the Cross in Washington DC. More information is forthcoming.
Bishop Jim Curry, Diocese of Connecticut, addressed advocacy opportunities.
Bishop Sutton talked about a nation-wide summit on gun violence that is being planned; date will be determined.
Alex Baumgarten of the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations spoke about efforts underway in Washington DC.
The day concluded with the Opening Eucharist, with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori celebrating and preaching.
A conversation on violence and guns will continue.
Media Briefers for Friday, March 8
HOB on Twitter: #HOB2013
Kanuga Conference Center http://www.kanuga.org/
Diocese of Western North Carolina http://www.diocesewnc.org/