Bishop’s Convention Address – 29th Convention of the Diocese of Western Louisiana

I’m recording it so hopefully we’ll have audio later in addition to the liveblog.

Bishop telling a joke, I think.  Bruce goes to see the doctor, never had anything like this before in his life; doctor says “Welcome to Louisiana”.  Bruce has a sinus problem.  So do we all.

Gathering together as Holy Partners in A Heavenly Calling – from Hebrews.  Consider Jesus, the high priest of our confession; just as Moses was faithful in God’s house, Jesus is worthy of more glory.  Jesus is the builder of all things in God.  For we have become partners in Christ if only we hold firm to the end.

Reflecting on life in the church at present; drawn to this passage in Hebrews.  What are we to be about?  This passage weighing upon Bruce’s heart; the writer is reminding them of who they are and who Christ is.  Set apart for God in an exclusive sense.  Responsibility and accountability to this heavenly calling from God himself.

Jesus said – you did not choose me, I chose you, that you should go and bear fruit.

Regardless of what goes on in the church, our faith must rest in God.  Personal relationship with Christ Jesus on invitation from God himself – life redeemed for his people.  Resurrection people – we are reminded of this in the church’s one foundation being Jesus Christ our Lord.  Last six years have not been easy – two General Convention and five hurricanes.  Joke – things were much better in Western Louisiana before Bruce arrived.

To begin – a lot of wonderful thing happening in this Diocese, but also difficult times due to issues beyond our control – GC, TEC leadership.  I wrestled with where to begin.  This address will end on good news.

Past five years, more TEC problems – aggressive actions by bishops and national leadership.  Some in Diocese feel we should walk away from TEC; others want to support the Windsor Process.  Those that disagree with Bruce no matter what he does.  Some have left our Diocese.  But, Bruce’s positions have not changed over the last five years, nor since the GC’s.  Pursuit of faithful proclamation of the Gospel.  Posture the same on issues before us.  Commitment to leading Diocese to faithful proclamation of the Gospel.  Resolutions declararing Windsor Compliance; work of reconciliation – working toward the Anglican Covenant.  At present, Covenent will come forth in May, 2009; wants Dioceses to have option to opt in when Province hasn’t or won’t.  Important to many; as stated by Bruce in Tanzania – we share the deep concern that TEC will walk apart; want Windsor Dioceses to be a part of the AC and in communion with Canterbury.

Have Canon Cameron here – an architect of the Anglican covenant.  We’ll here more on this this afternoon.  Past year, HOB have handled matters; this has disturbed bishops and clergy.  Bishops Cox and Schofield; vote held under direction of PB; contrary to Constitution and Canons.  Needed majority of whole number entitled to vote; not just those in attendance.  Inhibition by two of the three bishops of the church.  Preemptive interpretation of the C&C.  PB called special convention of Dio. of San Joaquin; bishop picked and nominated by her and not by Diocese; this violated the C&C.  Done under precept there was no ecclesiastical authority; PB declared Standing Committee invalid.  In this particular case, S.J. had a standing committee.  Precedents being established.  Behavior continued in Salt Lake City with Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh.  Bruce voted in opposition.  Tremendous amount of time spent on this.  Also added was hearing before council of advice; Bruce presided over 1.5 hour session.  88 to 35; Diocesan bishops with jurisdiction – 50 to 30.  Much debate over rightness or wrongness of this.  Failure to provide due process.  Bishop Duncan was never inhibited and denied the right of a trial.  Dangerous precedent continues to be established.    Bruce objected; couldn’t get the 2/3rd majority.  Bruce and eight others asked for roll call vote.  Not performed in rebellious mood but out of deep concern over the direction of the church; lack of proper order; no adherence to C&C.  Bruce indicating he might be next because his disagrees with direction of GC.  Issue not whether Duncan did anything, but new rule of order adverse to canons and not passed by councils of the church.  This must be corrected.

Another element of tension – property – Task force on same.  Five bishops and three consulting bishops.  Started by Griswold.  Maintained active profile; however, PB does not recognized them as a body, she is quick to state she has never provided for them to continue, yet they continue to operate.  Discussion came up and she made this comment; “This sadly is another sign of the church out of control. ”

Bruce fear that if no correction, more Dioceses will seek refuge through realignment – Pittsburg and SJ have left; other considering this.  Solution is not to continue to dismantle the church; this is a result of the direction of the church; it is GC’s fault.  Can’t ignore what was handed down to us; Jude 3 – contend for the faith that was once for all; entrusted to the saints.

Some would like to see us affiliate with this group or that; however, this direction is no more definitive with that which is before us.  New Province is unknown date and time; might not be part of the Anglican Communion.  I’m not saying anything more about GAFCON and Lambeth, because I’ve written about them.  Preamble of Constitution – TEC is a part of the Anglican Communion; includes historic faith and order in BCP.  In keeping with this; we will follow through with the Anglican Convenant.  This Diocese will then decide its direction forward; Bruce will provide leadership.  I know what the parameters are under the C&C; only a called convention of this Diocese will take us out of TEC.

Many are aware Bruce has been on PB’s council of advice.  Not appointed but elected by Provinces.  Most of the last six was with Griswold; then with Shori.  Then served as chair.  To serve has drawn criticism; question of Bruce’s sanity.  Church placed this responsibility before Bruce; we are not always called to be comfortable.  Bruce’s presence has benefitted the church; but, as will all things, they come to an end.  Declined requests to stand for reelection.  This chapter has ended.

Communion Partners – much coverage in Alive and in Bruce’s travels.  Effort to work for change for reform from within TEC; pastoral relationships for congregations.  Plan reviewed by PB, Bruce, and two other bishops; PB knows; this is in keeping with C&C.  No border crossings without consent.  15 bishops are in CP; some Dioceses are in conversation with these bishops.  Address volatile situations in the church; CP recognized by Windsor Continuation Group and +Rowan.  Need pastoral forum.

Moving closer to home – ministry of Jesus as Lord and Savior is alive and well in Western Louisiana.  Last year, many positive things.

Bishop’s Mt. Olivet award to Mary MacIntosh last night.

Moving west in the Diocese – St. Luke’s medical ministry in Shreveport – mobile medical ministry.

Full time ministry at Grambling State University coming.  Thanks Fr. Ned – been retired 23 years and about to be 84 and he also serves St. Matthew’s Farmerville.  Selection of Rev. Thomas Zabuga – vicar of parish and for campus ministry.  Canterbury work to grow.  He will move to Grambling from Oakland.  (Again, he’s from Uganda.)  Canterbury not new to Grambling, but full time priest will add much to this ministry.

Number of Canterbury ministries are growing and changing.  Canterbury at Centenary; – two Eucharists and dinners per year with the bishop.  Thanks Ben Songy for his work.  Also Ruston, Natchitoches, Lafayette; Monroe to be restarted.  ECW getting back into gear – Time for Joy weekend.  Celebration of women’s ministries cancelled due to hurricanes; many disappointed but understand.

Hurricanes – although we didn’t suffer like we did two years ago, much damage did occur mostly due to tidal surge in the south; still in process of distrbuting funds.  Thanks for funds for Diocesan disaster relief.  Generosity – helping people in and outside the church.  Thanks Mother Liz Ratcliff.

Diocese of Texas hit hard by Ike; lost Galveston.  Trinity Episcopal School in Galveston got five feet of water.  Much has been lost.  What is not lost is spirit and enthusiasm.  Diocese sent $10,000 to aid in recovery.

Commission on Spiritual Formation – excellent program on annual retreat.

Addiction and recovery – great retreat.  Thanks Reece.

Christian formation – new cirriculum on confirmation preparation to be available to all congregations.  Many small congregations needed this resource.  This is designed to be used by all congregations regardless of size.

Feed my Lambs by Beverly Easterling – makes lectionary come alive for children.

Diocesan School of Theology – largest class ever this fall.  Thanks Fr. McBride.  Institute for lay ministry.  Worship training around the Diocese.  Session will be in Lake Charles soon.

Camp Hardtner – had one of best summer camping sessions yet.  Thanks Fr. Whit Stodgill and Pat Higgins, Exec. Director, etc.

Stewardship – had conference this past year; thanks Brenda Milam from St. James.

DOK – Cursillo – Kairos – Louisiana Interchurch Conference – Commission on Ministry – Youth Ministry – Commission on Anti-Rascism (had a workshop last spring) – Mission Dept – small church ministry conference.  Commission on International Mission – Tom Dalton from St. Paul’s; missionaries are members of congregations.  Edwina Thomas of SOMA here (I won’t be able to blog this – have to run home).  Alive, the Diocesan newspaper, doing a good job.

Point previously made, but not to minimize the national church – I’ve found over and over again that Congregations that focus on ministry rather than getting bogged down on national church issues are growing; not in the ditches but are about the mission of the church.  This is the ministry to which God has called.  Confirmations are up 55%; receptions are up 98% – new members.  Have to have visions and desire to be Holy Partners in a heavenly calling – do the will of God; receive what is promised.

God has brought me to Western Louisiana to learn patience in the restoration of Mount Olivet chapel.  Architectual delays.  Things are now started and Ratcliff Construction is doing a wonderful job.  Expedient yet detailed manner.  Should be back in Diocesan house in June – additional gifts will hopefully cover shortfall caused by hurricane.

All Saints in Vicksburg, MS; we own part of it.  School has been closed for two years, but we haven’t sold the property.  Call last Tuesday from Bishop Gray – property being leased by Americorps.  $835,000 per year lease.  Money in hand – spend $2.2 million in renovation and upgrades.  Takes care of outstanding liabilities but will also leave property much improved.

In closing, it is +Bruce’s honor to serve as our bishop.  Thanks to the staff, Chancellors, treasurer, etc.  Bishop tears up talking about Susan, his wife.

Closing Prayer.

1 Response to “Bishop’s Convention Address – 29th Convention of the Diocese of Western Louisiana”

  1. 1 BabyBlue October 11, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Thanks Brad for this liveblogging! I’ve posted a link at the cafe. Really interesting that your bishop points out the presence of Cameron and then goes on to publicly – knowing eyes are on Cmaeron – to outline what the Presiding Bishop did in deposing Bishop Duncan. It’s courage like this that is inspiring. I see greater hope of a bridge being built between the Common Cause Partners and the Communion Partners then will ever happen with TEC. That will be the place of reconciliation.


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