By one of those remarkable coincidences I came across the addresses (or reports) of three bishops to their dioceses. They are very different in content, context, and tone, but each in its way, is inspiring, offering hope for the future, and reflective of an Episcopal Church that is mission-focused and forward looking.
From Bishop Shannon Johnston of Virginia, the remarkable story of his developing relationship with the Rector of Truro Parish, one of the congregations that left the Diocese of Virginia.
From the Diocese of North Carolina, Bishop Michael Curry’s convention sermon. If you think Episcopalians can’t preach inspiring sermons, have a listen. I heard him preach a powerful sermon at a conference a year ago. If you ever get a chance to hear him in person, jump.
And from Bishop Andy Doyle of the Diocese of Texas, a report on the innovative ministries and mission that are occurring their under his guidance: council13-bishops-report. I’ve blogged about Bishop Doyle before and I commend his book, Unabashedly Episcopalian.
One of the things Bishop Doyle mentions very late in that report is his effort to recast the role of the Bishop: as preacher, teacher, communicator. Looking at the episcopacy from below, it seems to me that for the Episcopal Church to thrive in the present moment, such re-visioning of the bishop’s office is crucial. (Recasting the role of rector is equally crucial, especially when the tendency is to focus on the administrative tasks at hand (I say this after a day spent in a two-hour executive committee meeting, followed by a couple of hours dealing with issues that grew out of that meeting as well as the ordinary tasks that cross my desk and my email inbox each day). Still, Bishop Doyle is right on. I don’t know if he’s aware that in articulating those areas of teaching, preaching, and communicating, he is returning to the Early Church’s notion of the bishop’s office, as well as the importance of those particular roles in later reform efforts. Such refocusing is needed today, and the three bishops I direct your attention to are doing that to great effect.