House of Bishops spring 2014 retreat meeting daily account

Day Five, Tuesday, March 25

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church has been meeting in retreat at the Camp Allen Conference & Retreat Center in Navasota, Texas (Diocese of Texas) since March 21 and concludes today, March 25. The following is an account of the activities for Tuesday, March 25.

The theme for the spring meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is How Shall We Sing The Lord’s Song in a Strange Land?

The day began with Morning Prayer, with a reflection led by Bishop John Howard of Florida. Bishop Howard spoke about singing the Lord’s song in the strange land of the criminal justice system. He noted that the system leans more to retribution than to rehabilitation. The prison population in the United States has increased 700% since 1970.  We represent 5% of the global population and 25% of the world’s prison population. Howard stated that his consistent sermon in prisons is that we are all in shackles and Jesus came to set us free. He encouraged the bishops to join him in prison ministry and in working to reform the criminal justice system.

The emcee for the day was Bishop Rob Hirschfeld of New Hampshire.

The afternoon started with Town Hall facilitated by Bishop Sean Rowe of Northwestern Pennsylvania/Bethlehem.  The bishops discussed:

* The Joint Committee on the Nomination of the Presiding Bishop timeline.
* Bishops Against Gun Violence reported on the upcoming April conference in Oklahoma City, Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace, at which both the Presiding Bishop and the Archbishop of Canterbury will be speaking. The hope is that The Episcopal Church will model a way of conversation for others in America on this subject.
College for Bishops will offer the Orderly Transition Conference for Bishops considering resignation in three to five years.
* The Ecclesiology Committee reported on ongoing work on its major document.
* The election in El Salvador.
* DVDs are available from Racism in America: Fifty Years Later; contact

During the Business Session, the bishops approved

  • A resolution honoring Bishop Barbara Harris on her 25th anniversary
  • A resolution to be in solidarity with the Diocese of Venezuela, as that nation seeks a lasting solution to the present difficult economic and political situation
  • A resolution commending the Diocese of the Dominican Republic’s support and advocacy for Dominicans of Haitian descent; and calling upon international agencies to give justice to these people by recognizing their human rights.


Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced that the offerings collected throughout the week will be donated to Episcopal Relief & Development for South Sudan and to the reconstruction of the Cathedral in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti.

Three guests offered their thoughts on their experience at the HOB meeting: Bishop Raul Tobias (Iglesia Filipina Independiente), Bishop James Tengatenga (South Malawi, resigned), and Bishop Jonathan Hart (Liberia).

Eucharist concluded the House of Bishops with Bishop Jeff Fisher of Texas presiding; HOB chaplain the Rev. Stephanie Spellers of the Diocese of Long Island  preached.

A light moment: Bishop Greg Rickel of Olympia (Seahawks) and Bishop Rob O’Neill of Colorado (Broncos) announced that in their Super Bowl pre-game challenge, $35,000 was raised for Episcopal Relief & Development during the 48 hours prior to the game. Also, Bishop Rickel presented two gifts to Bishop O’Neill: a DVD of the Super bowl game, and a Seahawks piece of clothing (Seahawks won, Broncos lost).

Media Briefers for Tuesday, March 25
Bishop Ed Konieczny, Diocese of Oklahoma
Bishop Dabney Smith, Diocese of Southwest Florida
Bishop Pierre Whalon, Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe

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  1. Margo Fletcher says:

    Bishop’s please look at economic justice in our own country and lead the way in saying this is not a economic system that can ever speak Shalom to all the people of the USA. Please leave behind the assumption that we are a church of the well to do and we only need to support the top 30% of the population who are professional wage earners. For God’s sake do. Margo

  2. Joseph Wood Rutter says:

    I was hoping to read that the Bishops spent some time discussing the situation in South Carolina. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina is trying to rebuild and (hopefully) reclaim the title “Diocese of South Carolina” from the breakaway group.. Did any discussions take place? Perhaps because of the pending legal measures they are not able to discuss…?
    Thank you.
    Woody Rutter
    Beaufort, SC (St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Port Royal, SC)

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