The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting at Kanuga, an Episcopal conference center in Hendersonville, North Carolina, from March 25-30.
The following is an account of the house's activities from Friday through Sunday, March 25-27.
Friday, March 25
• The first session was opened by emcee for the day, Bishop Nedi Rivera of Eastern Oregon.
• Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori introduced new bishops: Martin Field of West Missouri; Scott Hayashi of Utah; Dan Martins from Springfield; Michael Milliken of Western Kansas; Michael Vono of Rio Grande; and Terry White of Kentucky. She also presented bishops-elect William Franklin of Western New York and Rayford Ray of Northern Michigan.
The presiding bishop also introduced international guests: Archbishop Fred Hiltz of the Anglican Church of Canada (to arrive later); Archbishop Henri Isingoma, primate of Congo; and Archbishop Bishop Paul Kim, primate of South Korea.
• The members of the house took time to check in, reconnect and share.
• Rivera provided an overview of the HOB schedule and topics. She noted that the theme is "Proclaiming the Gospel in the World."
• The presiding bishop addressed the assembly, talking about the connections between the HOB meeting schedule and the announced topics: Proclamation of the Gospel to Young Adults, Islam and Christianity; the Proposed Anglican Covenant; Recruiting and Preparing Young People for Church Leadership. She focused on leadership in a changing world, urging the Church to raise up leaders to be agents of change for the sake of God's mission.
• HOB Vice President Bishop Dean Wolfe of Kansas talked about the seven core values of HOB. Following that, there were discussions about the use of Facebook, texting and tweeting during the HOB meetings, and a consensus was reached among the members.
• During a town hall meeting, the bishops discussed various topics of interest.
• The session concluded with Eucharist; the presiding bishop celebrated and preached. The town hall session was to continue after dinner.
Saturday, March 26
• The session was opened by emcee of the day Bishop Tom Shaw of Massachusetts.
• Following Morning Prayer and Bible study, the bishops surprised Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on her birthday with rousing singing.
• The topics and focus for the day was "Proclamation of the Gospel to/with Young Adults: How can we be church in the 21st Century." Presenters were Lisa Kimball of Virginia Theological Seminary, and the Rev. Arrington Chambliss and Jason Long from the Diocese of Massachusetts.
Kimball shared personal vignettes which illustrated work that needs to be done with the Episcopal Church and young adults. Defining "young adults" is very complex and depends on context, she said, but she focused on those 19 to 35 years old. She shared stats and facts about this age group.
Kimball presented discussion questions for the bishops: What are the challenges facing the young adults you know? What are their strengths? To what extent is the Church in your diocese reaching people like this? The bishops shared reactions and comments.
She noted: there is a deep need in the church for faith formation in the home; "sadly," she said, young adults are missing from our worship service; and those in their 20s and 30s want to be in relation with the Episcopal Church.
• Noon Eucharist was celebrated by Bishop Wendell Gibbs of Michigan. Preacher was the Rev. Stephanie Spellers of the Diocese of Massachusetts, one of the chaplains for HOB.
• In the afternoon session, Long spoke about the Episcopal Service Corps. He shared his story of being evangelized, which was a transformational experience that also transformed the worshiping community. In speaking about Episcopal Service Corps he identified programs that will exist in Massachusetts and 16 other dioceses by this fall.
• Chambliss spoke about evangelism, and believes that the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion are poised to be the most transformative institutions in the 21st century. Arrington stated that evangelism is not a program, it's a spiritual practice; it's not institutional but individual; it doesn't start with telling but with listening.
She led a meditation "on remembering a time when someone took you and your gifts seriously."
Small group discussions allowed bishops to explore themes and needs, and to brainstorm on what might occur in the next year to partner with young adults in creating fresh expressions of Church.
• The bishops concluded the session with Evening Prayer.
Sunday, March 27
• Following a day of Sabbath, the House of Bishops gathered for a Moravian Service of Holy Communion in the Kanuga Chapel.
• The Liturgy for Christian Unity was taken from the Moravian Book of Worship.
• The bishops of the Moravian Church participating in the service were:
The Rt. Rev. Dr. D. Wayne Burkette, who welcomed HOB to the service, thanking the bishops "for the invitation to be part of the meeting of HOB and for the opportunity to worship," noting that he looks forward to "future times of worship and fellowship and common mission as expressions of our full communion."
The Rt. Rev. Graham H. Rights provided the meditation. "I hope you will seek out Moravian partnership wherever you are," he said, bringing greetings from the 17 Moravian bishops (10 bishops in the Northern Province and 7 in the Southern Province).
He continued, "The Eucharist is a service of thanksgiving and tonight our thanksgiving is for this coming together. We have taken a step to answer the Lord's prayer that we all may be one."
He talked about an early bishop of the Unitas Fratrum, John Comenius, who was born March 28, 1592. Comenius proposed a world assembly, and his early writings included those about the Anglican Church.
• Rights pointed out that now, three different reformation churches are in communion with each other: the Episcopal Church, the Moravian Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. "It is an exciting time in the history of our communions," he said. "It is an exciting time for the universal church."
• The Rt. Rev. Lane A. Sapp presided at the service.
• The Moravian Daily Text for March 27 was read:
Malachi 4:2: For you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.
Romans 13:12: The night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
• The readings were:
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16: I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.
John 15:12-17: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
• Music was prepared by the Nola Knouse, director of Moravian Service Foundation. The organist was Paul F. Knouse.
• Among the hymns and festive music at the service were: "The Church's One Foundation," "Holy Spirit, Still Creating," "Join We All with One Accord," "Is This Our High Calling," "Highly Favored Congregation," and "Christ is Our Master, Lord and God."
Note: Full communion between the Episcopal Church and the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church in North America was celebrated in February. The relationship of full communion was approved by the Episcopal Church General Convention in 2009 and by the 2010 Provincial Synods of the Northern and Southern Provinces of the Moravian Church in North America.