The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church met last week in person for the first time since 2019 at Camp Allen in Texas.
It was a deeply spiritual, more retreat-like atmosphere than most House of Bishops meetings. A priest asked me hopefully if the Bishops has been working on strategies for evangelism as we emerge from the pandemic at this meeting, and I had to admit that no, we were not working on strategies: we were praying.
And that prayer is and will be the grounding of any strategy we engage. The speaker for the first two days was the Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, a mystic, Episcopal priest, and theologian. She led us in reflections on her work on being spiritually open, and we spent time in silent centering prayer.
The second speaker was supposed to be Pádraig Ó Tuama, but due to a death in his family, he was unable to join us. Instead, a series of bishops were invited to give reflections on reconciliation in personal, ecclesiastical, and spiritual contexts. Again: there was a lot of silence. And then deep conversation in our table groups about pain, division, and healing.
We also agreed to several statements, covered in this Episcopal News Service article about our meeting, including:
- Offering support to the people of Ukraine, and encouraging Episcopalians to support refugee efforts through Episcopal Relief and Development and the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.
- We unanimously passed a statement decrying the current group of bills and actions targeting transgender and non-binary children in many states.
And finally, as with any good gathering of Christians, there was time to play. The Bishops’ choir sang every day—a spiritual discipline I would love to embody at home! The Bishop of Idaho and I hit the dance floor two-stepping on a night with a Western band invited by the Diocese of Texas; and we had a day of camp activities available, like archery and horseback riding. And every meal brought new insights about life in the church in other dioceses and mutual learning about our call to the episcopate.