Bishops report

Two bishops have posted their reflections on the House of Bishops most recent meeting in Texas. Bishop Chris Epting writes of the reaction of the House to the news that Bishop Gene Robinson would not be invited to attend the Lambeth Conference. Bishop Kirk Smith writes additionally of the action to depose two other bishops during the meeting.

Bishop Epting’s report which speaks of the controversy regarding Robinson’s invitation also includes his reflections on the Covenant process in the Anglican Communion:

“The most painful session was learning that our brother Gene Robinson’s (and our) request for him to be included in the Lambeth Conference in some official way has been rejected by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Even his request simply to pray with his brother and sister bishops during the retreat and during Bible studies. Unbelievable! We will surely make a statement expressing our dismay and sadness at this decision. And we will find ways to stay connected with him during the Conference.

Heard reports on theological education, a proposed new medical insurance program, reorganization at the Church Center, and work on the Title IV disciplinary canons for clergy.  Last night we spent some time discussing the new draft of a ‘Proposed Anglican Covenant.’

There are the usual concerns about the constitutional and legal implications of signing on to an international set of ‘canons’ which might jeopardize our ability to say legitimately that we are ‘autonomous’ (make our own laws/canons). And concerns about ‘power to the Primates’ on doctrinal and other issues. Concerns about too much emphasis on ‘Church of England formularies’ (i.e. 1662 Prayer Book, 39 Articles, their Ordinal) rather than referring more broadly to ‘Anglican formularies.’

Personally, I think we can deal with all those matters. Draft 2 is clearly moving in the right direction. We are to work with it more at Lambeth, the writing team will then prepare a 3rd Draft which will go to the Anglican Consultative Council. If they reject it, it will go back for more work. If they accept it, we will begin the process of having it voted on in the 38 Provinces.

I think there is time for us to improve the document still further. It is clear to me that some kind of Anglican Covenant will be put forth and ultimately signed. The only question is…will we be part of it?”

Read the rest of Bishop Epting’s post here.

Bishop Smith also highlights the emotional reactions to the news that Bishop Robinson would not be invited. Smith goes on to speak about the votes to depose Bishops John David Schofield and William Cox:

The other sad moment in our time together came when we took action to depose two bishops of the church who had violated their ordination vows by working to take parishes out of the Episcopal Church, Bishop John-David Scofield of San Joaquin, and Bishop William Cox, retired Suffragan of Maryland. This action was taken after long moments of prayer and silence reflection on the floor of the house. All of us wished to be as charitable and forgiving as possible, but the fact remains that both bishops have worked for many years to separate themselves from our church and in doing so have cause great harm to their dioceses. We consider our action to be a recognition of an existing situation, and not a punitive action.

Many of the presentations we heard focused, appropriately enough, on reconciliation and on our need to go to the Lambeth conference in as open, humble, and cooperative way as possible. We spent an entire learning about “faith-based reconciliation” and how it has been successfully practiced in our own church in around the world. We also renewed our commitment to anti-racism training.

As always, there were a number of practical items. We can expect, for example, some changes in our clergy medical insurance program that should result in considerable savings. We also received some training in dealing with media which will come in handy when we are interviewed by reporters this summer.

You can read Bishop Smith’s full reflection here.

UPDATE: Bishop Tom Breidenthal and Bishop Ken Price of the Diocese of Southern Ohio have their reflections posted here.

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