Wayne Smith's occasional blog of pilgrimages and journeys

Friday, March 13, 2009

House of Bishops: Before the meeting begins

Here on the eve of the regular spring meeting of the House of Bishops, about three-quarters of the bishops have already arrived at Kanuga, the conference center near Hendersonville, North Carolina. For some years now, the planners have arranged various meetings for bishops before the House convenes. The arrangement makes for good stewardship, since it allows us to gather for other necessary meetings without extra costs for travel.

I arrived yesterday, for the ongoing training of those of us involved in the peer coaching process for new bishops. The College for Bishops, the teaching and learning arm of the House, has arranged a comprehensive program of formation for new bishops. No one teaches you about engaging in this ministry beforehand, and the current program, begun about six years ago, takes that fact into accout. There is a set three-year curriculum, including several week-long residentiary sessions in community with faculty and other new bishops. The College also appoints a coach for each new bishop, with the expectation that a relationship of learning and compassion will develop. And to this end, the coaches agree to engage in a continuing process of learning how best to engage such a relationship. So about thirty of us coaches met last evening and this morning for that work, led by David Rynick, a professional trainer in this field. The training is excellent, as is the process, and I am blessed as a coach to work with Greg Rickel, the Bishop of Olympia--who is, by the way, the preacher for Flower Festival this year.

This this afternoon I took a short course in blogging, offered again by the College for Bishops and led in this instance by Nicholas Knisely, dean of the cathedral in Phoenix and one of the pioneers in staking out a presence for the Episcopal Church on the web. It was very good, compressing a lot of information into a short period of time. So here I am, blogging again, as I am journeying once more on behalf of the Diocese of Missouri. Keeping in touch during these occasional pilgrimages is the purpose of blog, and I am trying to remain faithful.

Not least of all was the pleasurable time I spent on one of the enormous Kanuga porches this evening, in the company of eight or ten friends and colleagues. Rocking chairs, something tasty to drink, and a chill in the air, all shared among friends who see one another not nearly often enough: this is something I value greatly, and one of the reasons making me look forward to these meetings. Collegiality matters, and times for serious talk and laughter--both--are crucial for the life of community and sustaining relationships. I am glad to be here.

Tomorrow the House convenes at noon, and I will do my best to blog my experiences during this time together.



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