The House of Bishops
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.