Learning central as Cuban church, seminary welcome Bishop Frank Griswold

April 3, 2008

Just before Easter, Frank T. Griswold, whose nine-year term as Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church concluded in November 2006, spent a month with the church in Cuba. His visit was at the invitation of Anglican Bishop Miguel Tamayo and Reinerio Valentin pArce, rector of the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas.

Photos from Bishop Griswold's trip are available here.

 

It was a return to Cuba for the 25th Presiding Bishop, who had made a five-day official visit to the island in February 2006. "This was of a different character altogether," he said. "There was time for coming to know the circumstances and ministry of Cuban Christians in a more substantive way."

Bishop Griswold was based at the seminary, where he delivered lectures to the seminary community and taught classes for the Anglican students. He also gave a Lenten retreat for diocesan clergy, preached in several parishes and at the Cathedral in Havana, addressed the Cuban Council of Churches, visited mission projects and met with government representatives for religious affairs.

According to the seminary's rector, the month-long visit was extremely positive for the seminary community. "Exposure to the Christian family from different cultures is invaluable for our students," he said. "Also, our theological tradition is in need of people who have an ecumenical understanding of the mission of the church, which Bishop Griswold brought to us in an engaging and substantive way," he said.

Speaking of what it means to set down the rigors and responsibilities of his office, Bishop Griswold noted that a new chapter for anyone who is called through baptism to live and proclaim the gospel can be a new opportunity for service, and for learning. However, he cautioned that a former Presiding Bishop needs a particular awareness. As he explained: "Once you have served as the Presiding Bishop it is unavoidable that you continue in some sense to carry that sign and symbol, particularly in the broader Anglican Communion. So there must be an awareness of that reality informing what you do and don't do, what you say and don't say."

Accordingly, Bishop Griswold spoke to his successor about his hope of continuing to be "deployed" in some useful way after his term ended. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori expressed her appreciation for his willingness to continue to serve the Episcopal Church and invited Bishop Griswold to lead the church's delegation to the January 2007 conference in South Africa: TEAM - Toward Effective Anglican Mission.

Since November 2006 Bishop Griswold has spent much of his time preaching, lecturing and giving retreats in various venues both in the United States and around the Communion. Last autumn he spent a month visiting the Anglican Church of Korea, where he taught at the Sungkonghoe (Anglican) University in Seoul and gave lectures and retreats for clergy and lay leaders. In January he taught a course on Ignatian Spirituality at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

He has been invited to deliver the Gore Lecture at Westminster Abbey in late April and in June will spend a week teaching at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This summer a return trip to England is scheduled during which he will give the annual University sermon for St. John Baptist's Day at Magdalen College of Oxford University. Preaching outdoors from an ancient stone pulpit, which some speculate is older than the college itself, will be a particular experience for Bishop Griswold who has a degree in theology from Oxford. While he is in England he will give a retreat for the ordinands of the Salisbury Diocese, preach in Salisbury Cathedral and give an address to the Modern Church People's Union.

"I have always enjoyed the teaching aspect of episcopal ministry," Bishop Griswold said, "and have been pleased to make that something of a focus now that I have an opportunity to make more choices about how I want to direct my attention, and my energies."