Sunday, July 12, 2009

Listening Bishops

Our Episcopal Bishops have gone above and beyond to hear the stories from around the Anglican Communion. They have taken the time to get to know their brother bishops as members of the Body of Christ, and have formed new and powerful relationships with them. That's truly wonderful.

My deep fear, however, is that the majority of our Bishops are talking primarily to themselves, and not to the clergy and lay leaders that elected them to their positions: handing them the sacred trust to care for The Episcopal Church as our Bishops.

My bishop, The Rt Rev. Gene Robinson, seems to share that fear in his blog post. He wrote, concerning the hearing on moving beyond B033:

One alarming thing about last night's hearing was the fact that there were almost NO bishops present. Other than those on the committee (who HAD to be there), there were only five bishops present: Andrus (California), Beckwith (Newark) and myself, arguing for moving forward; Love (Albany) and Lawrence (South Carolina) arguing for continuing B033. Other than these, NO bishop was present to hear the two hours of voices from the Church appealing for progress.

I fear (and I hope I'm not being overly dramatic here) that we are moving toward a train wreck between the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops. I sense an unwillingness among the bishops to listen to these voices of the laity and clergy. I hope I'm terribly wrong, but it seems that bishops feel they have some special access to God's will and nothing will persuade them otherwise. I shutter to think of a church where the Bishops are so disconnected from the will of the people they serve. Please God, let me be terribly wrong about this perception, and may the scales fall from my pessimistic eyes and reveal an episcopate who has listened to the Spirit's movement in the people of this Church. Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong about this. Only time will tell.It is an incredible thing, that our bishops opened themselves up to their brother bishops from around the communion to get to know them better, and where they are in their journeys in Christ.”

The House of Deputies collectively made their voices heard by a 2/3rds majority approving D025, a serious step forward in the full inclusion of all people in the church. Now, as priests, deacons and laity, we must, as individuals, reach out to our Bishops.

The next time you see someone in purple and a clergy collar, go up to him or her and say, “Bishop, as a brother (sister) in Christ, and as a Bishop in my church, may I have a minute of your time.”

Then tell them (if your a deputy) why you voted the way you did for D025. Tell them, even if you’re not a deputy, why you’re in the Episcopal Church, what your hope and dream is for the Church, and why the time is now for moving towards full inclusion.

Pray for our Bishops, and pray for our church.

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