Saturday, July 28, 2012

Today's consecration of our new bishop, and meeting with Presiding Bishop Katharine

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
Later this morning, the Rev. Canon Susan Goff will be ordained a bishop in God's Church and consecrated as our new Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Virginia. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will preside at the ceremony.

Suffragan bishops are assistant bishops to the diocesan bishop, who in our diocese is the Rt. Rev. Shannon Johnston.

The ceremony will take place at St. Paul's, Richmond at 11 am, and you best go early to get  seat.

Yesterday the clergy of the Diocese of Virginia spent the afternoon in conversation with Presiding Bishop Katharine. She has visited our diocese several times (and spent three days with us in 2010 at St. Paul's) but it was the first time she has met with the assembled clergy as whole.

Canon Susan Goff
She talked about many things, and I jotted a few notes. She began by reminding us that this was a conversation -- a give-and-take, and listening to each other. And so it was.

Much of the conversation was about how the Episcopal Church is confronting, like all churches, a world in turmoil and change. She encouraged us to get the church out of our walls and meet people where they are, and yet we live in the tension of "holding a space" inside our buildings for people to be safe, quiet and feel forgiven.

"Welcome to the crucified place," she said.

We talked a lot about the recently concluded General Convention and a resolution affirming that Holy Baptism is the "normative" entry to Holy Eucharist. She asked us to see that not as restrictive but as pastorally inviting people to baptism. "Let's practice open baptism," she said. "We don't do discipline at the Altar Rail."

We also talked about the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, and she noted that it is no longer the "new" prayer book. "We aren't rewriting it; we are adding to it. We are still living into the ethos that is there."

After our conversation, I chatted with her and mentioned that when she had visited St. Paul's in 2010 she ended her sermon with "Be bold!" We've been in a year-long listening process in our congregation and we've asked ourselves the question many times: Are we being bold? It's become something of an unofficial vision statement for St. Paul's: Be Bold!

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux, St. Paul's Memorial Church

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