National News Articles
Bishop Vono’s Report
Thu, Dec 9th 2010, 18:04
2010 House of Bishops Fall Meeting
To the Laity and Clergy in the Diocese of the Rio Grande,
It was a great honor to represent the Diocese of the Rio Grande at the House of Bishops meeting in Phoenix, Arizona September 16-21, 2010. As Bishop-Elect, I was enthusiastically welcomed and invited to fully participate in every important discussion concerning a variety of contemporary religious, social, political, cultural and international issues facing the world and the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ in this third-millennium.
As has been customary for more than several years in the House of Bishops, Presiding Bishop +Katharine has both modeled and encouraged God-centered discussions and informed debates as well as a deliberate spiritual process of listening to the Holy Spirit through prayer, dialogue, consensus building and decision-making. The work of each day was prefaced by worship, communal Morning Prayer, silence and Bible study. Our witness is to the guidance in, and trust of, the Holy Spirit and, by acknowledging the gift of Christ’s living presence in the church, we engaged in discussing how God seems to be transforming the Church. Bishops, as chief pastors, are responsible as Christ’s good shepherd.
The overall theme of session-gatherings was, “Changing Contexts for God’s Mission: What is the New Invitation?” Presentations dealt with contemporary trends of religious, social and political global controversies around issues concerning economic migrants, international cross boarder immigration, trafficking of drugs and persons, poverty, ethnicity and racial diversities and the challenges of communal multi-cultural assimilations. Several of these matters are on the hearts and minds of many people in the Diocese of the Rio Grande. The Episcopal Church’s witness seeks to honor God’s kerygma, “Missio Dei” (God’s mission) which arises out of our need – laity and clergy - to understand and live into the Gospel’s ‘Sermon On The Mount’ imperatives. Each Bishop had time to share their insights about their diocesan contextual realities. At table groups we discussed how Scripture informs our understanding of God’s mission in our geo-demographic changing contexts. Listening and learning was at the heart of these discussions. I learned many important lessons and gathered some wonderful resources for education and discussion.
The question raised at each session was: “What is the New Invitation” or more simply put “What is our Lord God doing in our time and where we are living? Where is Christ actively moving about in our midst? How our understanding God’s mission in the DRG is consistent with Christ’s ministry as described in the Gospels?”
Our Changing Contexts and Biblical Perspectives encourage us in the Diocese of the Rio Grande to consider the following insights and questions:
• Is the ‘stranger’ (alien, im/migrant, foreigner) recognized as a gift from God? Consider the complexities and truths (non-truths) of the im/migration issues from an Old and New Testament biblical perspective.
• Is accepting the ‘otherness’ of strangers from a foreign land a reflective reality of our own immigrant selves when viewed from an historical or a biblical perspective? Consider Abraham and his family, Jacob, Joseph and Israel in Exodus. All God’s people, which include us, are aliens and im/migrants. Are immigrants scapegoats for the economic and labor problems we face today?
• The Christian Theology of Missio Dei emphasizes the need to understand missional socio-cultural contexts. Is there a text without a context? Is there a context without a text? The Incarnate Word of God - Jesus Christ Son of God – risen and living is both the con/text and is recognizable in diverse historical times of salvation history. Consider the Biblical narrative of our earth-bound heavenly journey in search of God’s Kingdom.
A Pastoral Letter and a Theological Resource entitled “The Nation and the Common Good: Reflections on Immigration Reform”
• Teaching document from the House of Bishops has been made available to all the laity and clergy in the DRG, which I whole heartedly encourage you to consider, read and discuss among yourselves. These inspirational teachings will assist us in prayerfully considering what Christ’s mission is in the DRG.
Developing Leaders for Evangelism: Changing Contexts for Christ Centered Congregational Vitality in the 3rd Millennium Evangelism
• Missiological reflections focus on three questions.
~ What is God doing (discipline of discernment) in our age – relating God’s story in Holy Scripture to our personal – family - communal story?
~ What biblical story illumines our personal, as well as church, context of “doing mission” and Christ’s ministry for the poor and powerless?
~ How do I/we respond as God’s agent(s) of reconciliation?
• Church’s mandate, evidenced by the public witness of Jesus in his day, is to engage the world (culture) for what it is and not what it was. Today’s global and communal transformations are fueled by a fast growing and changing technology of information. What do you know or not know? What information is true or not true? Are we not all engaged in continuing education?
• Targeted Pastoral Evangelism. Three effective facets of congregational vitality
~ An open, welcoming community which invites people to know and become followers of Jesus Christ.
~ Provides opportunities in community for spiritual/life changing transformation.
~ Equips people for ‘evangel-gospel mission’ in the market and work place. A spirit of Joy, trust, hope and enthusiasm characterizes effective sharing of the good news of Jesus. Tell your story. Listen to other’s faith story. Acknowledge one Lord and God of us all.
• There is a need to return to our “mother- tongue” ….the language of Scripture, our first language as Christians, which we need to know it, learn it, and tell it. A Christian’s life in the world and in the church is a living faith-narrative.
• Pastoral Awareness: Contextual understanding of Evangelism of God’s people: Hispanic, Native American, displaced poor and despised Im/Migrants in 3rdmillennium is a global concern of our day.
Resolutions Taken: Affirmed by Majority Vote
• Mind of the House Resolution: Renewed Commitment to the Millennium Development Goals
• Mind of the House Resolution: Appeal for the Rebuilding of the Episcopal Church of Haiti
• Mind of the House Resolution: For Bishop Charles Bennison, Diocese of Pennsylvania, to tender his immediate and unconditional resignation.
Other Topics of Discussion
• Background Information from the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music Consultation on Resolution C056: Liturgies for Same Gender Blessings.
• The General Board of Examining Chaplains & the General Ordination Examination. Issues included frequently asked questions concerning the crisis in Seminary Education today, curriculum formation criteria for those in preparation for ordained ministry, and spiritual formation.