I have returned home from The House of Bishops meeting at Camp Allen in the Diocese of Texas.
It was one of the best House of Bishops meetings that I can remember. There was more agreement about major and significant things than I have felt for a long time. Such things as agreement that we can disagree and yet be of one heart, and that we have not been diligent to keep our squabbles out of the way of our call to ministry in God's mission. There was considerable truth telling and an emphasis on listening. We have not always risked telling the truth about difficult things, however, that has changed.
Bishop Jefferts Schori encouraged us to take control of our own life as a House of Bishops and we did. Her leadership was welcoming, firm when it needed to be, and filled with humor.
We spent considerable time hearing speakers and having discussions about "God's mission and our ministry" particularly as it relates to The Millennium Development Goals. I am pleased that we have begun work emphasizing the MDGs under the leadership of the Rev. Dahn Gandell, and several of our churches have welcomed Scott Cicora's offer to speak on "Environmental Sustainability."
I am providing the link www.episcopalchurch.org/elife/ to the House of Bishops "Message to God's People" which well describes our six days together.
I am also providing the three statements found at www.episcopalchurch.org/elife/ under Bishops' "Mind of the House" resolutions which reflect the truth telling I spoke of earlier. I am proud and privileged to tell you that I was very involved in the development of the major "Statement to the Executive Council" and the shorter statement urging the Executive Council to "decline to participate in the `Pastoral Scheme'" suggested by the Primates in Tanzania.
Our struggle was to make a statement which self-differentiated ourselves as The Episcopal Church while protecting the polity of our church. This means no outside interference which would violate our Canons or Constitution.
Our worship together was well crafted and you can imagine how great the singing was! The final hymn of our closing Eucharist was "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Though I do not want to minimize in any way the struggles of our people of color in these United States, for whom this hymn is very special, I can say that the words: "...thou who has by thy might led us into the light; keep us forever in the path, we pray" spoke to me as we have come through some divisive, conflicting, threatening times into a new dawn. It feels good to be freer as a church than I can remember in several years.
Now it is onward to discover and rediscover our call to be active participants in God's mission. It is my sense that we are on the way.
The Rt. Rev. Jack M. McKelvey
VII Bishop of Rochester