Despite dire predictions of a confrontation over a range of sensitive issues in the Episcopal Church of the United States, the annual spring retreat of bishops ended with general agreement that it had been one of the most honest encounters many of them had experienced.
The overall theme of the retreat was reconciliation – and the way that the theme was handled was credited by many bishops for creating a much better climate for dealing with tensions over the issues.
Building on their earlier study of globalisation at last fall’s meeting in Vermont, the bishops used their time to study reconciliation as mission and as integral to the role of a bishop.
“We started with personal dimensions of reconciliation and then considered ourselves as a community of ministers of reconciliation – bishops of the church,” Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold said in a press conversation at the end of the retreat. We asked who we are as people reconciled to God in Christ and, out of that reconciliation, how we are caught up in a context of continued reconciliation.
“Then we moved from personal to the communal or ecclesial level of reconciliation and … looked at some of the concerns in the life of the church. But we also recognised that the church is called to be a reconciling force in the world so we turned our attention to global matters such as world poverty, disease, disparity between rich and poor in this country, our relationship to the larger Anglican Communion,” he added.
Bishop Griswold said that the presence of representatives from other churches was very helpful.