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Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice meets, elects MacPherson as chair
Western Louisiana bishop among representatives from each Church Province

12/19/2006

Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson of the Diocese of Western Louisiana  

 
[Episcopal News Service]  Bishop D. Bruce MacPherson of the Diocese of Western Louisiana was elected to chair the Presiding Bishop's Council of Advice when its members met December 4-6 in Weehawken, New Jersey.

Formed of bishops who are presidents or vice-presidents of the Episcopal Church's nine geographic Provinces, the Council of Advice serves in a consultative role of conferring with the Presiding Bishop. The Council is not a decision-making body.

In addition to Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, bishops attending were Lloyd Allen (Honduras, Province IX), Harry Bainbridge (Idaho, Province VIII), George Councell (New Jersey, Province II), James Curry (Connecticut, Province I), Clifton Daniel (East Carolina, Province IV), Wendell Gibbs (Michigan, Province V), Robert Ihloff (Maryland, Province III), James Jelinek (Minnesota, Province VI), Richard Chang (Hawai'i, Vice-President of the House of Bishops), F. Clayton Matthews (Office of Pastoral Development), and MacPherson (Western Louisiana, Province VII).

During its meeting, the Council considered various topics, including those described in the following brief notes.

  • The Council considered how the Episcopal Church might strengthen partnerships with the Churches of Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, the Southern Cone and the largely Caribbean Province IX of this Church without promoting a sense of "being in charge." One Council member said: "We in this Church need to be receivers as well as givers." The Council discussed ways of offering support to Bishop Miguel Tamayo of Uruguay in his episcopal work in Cuba. The bishops of the Church of Mexico will be invited to attend the March 2007 meeting of the House of Bishops at Camp Allen, Texas. The Council was receptive to the concept of a meeting of bishops of Province IX, Cuba, Mexico, Brazil and the Southern Cone upon their invitation, and to include cultural immersion as part of the meeting.
  • The Council discussed matters related to the Episcopal Church Center and its administrative governance. The Presiding Bishop said a thorough analysis of Church Center operations is underway with a focus on shifting the energy of the system to mission efforts. Linda Watt will become chief operating officer of the Church Center and the wider Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS) in January 2007. The Presiding Bishop said that she has met with nearly all who work at the Church Center, located at 815 Second Avenue in New York City. The Presiding Bishop emphasized that staff morale is good, and that there is a real passion for ministry among the staff members. The Council discussed ways to make the Church Center more accessible, open and welcoming, including creating a more direct and personal linkage to the Center for each diocese.
  • In ecumenical matters, Council members said they encouraged that three Roman Catholic representatives and a Muslim accepted the invitation to attend the Presiding Bishop's Investiture. While the official dialogue with Rome seems to be proceeding at a very slow pace, the Episcopal Church is also maintaining its dialogue with the Orthodox. The Council affirmed the visit of the Presiding Bishop and Executive Council to the Chicago headquarters of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and encouraged continuing work at the local level between Episcopal and Lutheran congregations. The Diocese of Honduras and the Northeast Lutheran Synod are establishing a new relationship.
  • David Booth Beers, chancellor to the Presiding Bishop, met with the Council to give updates on various matters, including property issues being faced by some dioceses. While some dioceses are involved in litigation over property, this is not an "epidemic" by any stretch, Beers said. In the majority of past property disputes, the larger church has prevailed in retaining property in order to further the mission and evangelistic work of the Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishop's office and Chancellor are in communication with, and are a resource to, any diocese involved in property litigation.
  • The Presiding Bishop related the commitments which shape and form her approaches to mission and ministry which emphasize: the ministry of all baptized persons; her background as a scientist includes forming hypotheses and testing them; transparency and directness are high values; the Presiding Bishop is pastor to the whole church -- not just part of it; calling people to account when they go beyond boundaries.
  • The Council discussed the Presiding Bishop's desires regarding visitations to dioceses and consecrations of new bishops. The Presiding Bishop said she wishes to participate in as many consecrations as possible, but does not want to impose her presence where it is not welcome, and she hopes to visit as many dioceses of the Church as possible within the limits of her nine-year term. She said that she intends to participate in diocesan convention meetings, conferences involving clergy and laity, and within the context of her visits to go to "little places on the margins."
  • The Council considered the recent proposal for a Primatial Vicar and the upcoming Primates' meeting in February. The Council voiced its support for the concept of a Primatial Vicar and spoke of moves within some dioceses toward disconnection from the life and work of the Episcopal Church. The Presiding Bishop indicated that she is going to the Primates' Meeting with awareness of the variety of viewpoints and voices she will encounter as well as awareness of the support of a number of fellow Primates. The Council was not encouraging of the Archbishop of Canterbury's consideration of additional "dissenting" bishops from this Church attending the Primates' Meeting. The Council encouraged the Presiding Bishop to call the Church to prayer during the Primates' meeting.

During the coming year, the Council will hold several meetings by means of conference calls, will confer during meetings of the House of Bishops and gather again next December for several days.