I share with you the following information regarding the upcoming annual gathering of Recovery Ministries which will be held in San Antonio, Texas on April 4 through 5.
The keynote speaker will be the Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller, Bishop of Milwaukee.
“Equipping the Saints” – The Rt. Rev. Robert Hibbs & The Rev. Ned Bowersox , Diocesan Information Exchange and Panel discussion to help you in your diocese
“Carrying the Blessing to our Youth, Prevention and Treatment ” – Abigail Garza Moore, Executive Director of San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Trish Frye, Clinical Director, Palmer Drug Abuse Program
“La Fe, La Familia y Adicciones” – Supporting Recovery in Ministry with Hispanic Americans – The Rev. Dr. Lisa Fortuna
“The Little Book: Alcoholism, Drug Addiction and Recovery Made Simple!” – Christopher J. Daniel, LPC, LCDC
“The Triangle: AA, Religion and The State” – A Panel Discussion – Donald Hanson, LCSW, STD, Retired Federal Probation Officer David Phipps, MBA, Executive Director, Lifetime Recovery David Karney, MD, Elder at Oak Hills Church, San Antonio
“Moving Forward” – Dealing with the Challenges Ahead – Discussion moderated by The Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller
Eucharist, Thursday and Friday night dinners, a boat tour of the San Antonio River and a private guided tour of the San Antonio Mission Historical National Park are all included in the registration fee of $175. El Tropicano Hotel group rate of $109 + tax includes full breakfast. Up to 10 hours of CEUs for clergy and professionals are available. Scholarships are also available. You can access information about all of this at www.episcopalrecovery.org.
Next week I will be traveling to the House of Bishops meeting to be held at the Kanuga Conference Center in North Carolina. House of Bishop’s meetings are important and yet they are little understood outside of the circle of bishops and invited guests. I thought I might share a few thoughts on these meetings in case you are interested in knowing what we will be doing.
The basic structure and timing of these meetings is the same from year to year. We gather in the spring at either Kanuga or Camp Allen for a retreat style meeting. For the spring meetings we do not invite spouses or partners, we live in camp style housing, we provide time for prayer and reflection, and we gather together in the morning and afternoon for study and conversation. For the fall meeting, held in a different diocese every year, we invite spouses and partners, we live in a hotel, and do much the same as in the spring except that we also learn about the diocese we are in and the ministry of that community. There is a planning group that creates the agenda for each meeting, invites speakers and manages the event. We spend most of our time in conversation, study, prayer, and fellowship. On the last day we hold a business meeting to manage whatever business has come before us. We also have chaplains who engage us with scripture and preaching and are present if we feel the need for private counsel or confession. On the surface, that is it.
What really happens, of course, is much richer. We create community and we learn to love and respect those who share this Episcopal life. We sit outside, when weather permits, and talk together about our families, our lives as bishops and the challenges we are facing (when the weather is bad we do the same, only inside). We pray for each other, learn from each other, and laugh with each other. Occasionally we have deep and difficult discussions on topics we do not agree on. We listen to our Presiding Bishop and engage her in open conversation about the life of the wider Anglican communion. We also have an opportunity to learn about the history of the House of Bishops while listening to the more senior bishops share their stories of past years.
This year I have been asked to travel a few days early to learn to be a coach for a newly elected bishop and I am looking forward to the experience. I guess what I really would like to say at this point is that the experience of being a part of the House of Bishops is a great one. What I hope for Oregon, and especially for its clergy, is that we might find ways to create more opportunities for our own rich sharing similar to what I experience at the House of Bishops.
Please do keep us in your prayers as we travel.
In Lent we are invited to go deeper into the heart of God through acts of piety. Often I find that it is only by going deeper, by going up the mountain, being in prayer, that we experience the love of God in the face of Jesus Christ. So often my life seems to be lived more on the surface of things than in a place of depth and discovery. I move quickly from one event to another, from one encounter to another, from one purpose to another, rarely allowing myself to go deeper.
I wonder… What might it mean to do less but go deeper: To say no a bit more often in order to say yes at a deeper level, to spend more time in prayer and reflection, to read scripture more often, to sit and listen to a friend over coffee without watching the clock. What would it be like to enjoy meals in silence, to watch a full sunset or sunrise? What does the night sound like again? What does that flower in my winter garden look like, and what is my place in this God given universe?
I pray to go deeper into the heart of God and walk the way of Jesus this Lent. I pray your Lenten experience is also holy and life giving.
I personally am grateful to the church for the opportunity to bless same sex unions and I pray for marriage equality in the state of Oregon. I am also mindful that not all will feel comfortable with performing these rites and I want to make it clear that doing so is a decision each clergy person must make for themselves. If you choose not to bless same sex relationships please do find a way to provide generous pastoral support to any who seek this rite.
Linked below is a letter that will update you on the policies and practices that will govern our ministry related to the marriage of same sex couples and the blessing of gay and lesbian couples in lifelong covenant relationships in the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.
My simple prayer for you this advent season is that you will find it a holy time. Yes, there is much to do and almost all of it is good. There is getting the house ready for the season and for guests. And there is thinking of those you love and care for and how you might honor them with gifts and care. There are social engagements, gatherings formal and informal. There is the sadness we experience as we remember relatives and friends no longer with us; it’s a bittersweet kind of remembering.
Advent is a time of preparation and I pray it is holy. For me the holiness often comes in the spaces between events and the business of the day. It is in the quiet moments looking out the window, listening to a friend talk, and waiting for the pot to boil. It is listening with an inner ear for the presence of God in the moment. Stop every so often… and you can be present… in the moment… with God.
I am also blessed to work in an office that says Morning Prayer Monday through Friday, remembering in our prayers all of the people of the Diocese of Oregon and around the world. It is a blessed time as we gather, pray and remember week in and week out.
The Invitatory Psalm, The Venite, often becomes a way into a holy moment for me:
“Come, let us sing to the Lord; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the caverns of the earth, and the heights of the hills are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have molded the dry land. Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. Oh, that today you would harken to his voice!”
May God’s presence be with you as you experience the advent season and await the coming of Christ.