Bishop Poulson shares with us his time at the annual House of Bishops meeting at Camp McDowell in Alabama.
I am just back from the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops spring meeting from March 8-13 at Camp McDowell in Alabama. This was only my second such in person gathering, and I am still getting to know many of the 122 bishops who were present. There are certain aspects of being a bishop that are uniquely challenging, and so it is helpful to have time with colleagues who similarly are required to “think diagonally” (to borrow a phrase from the parking signs at Camp McDowell).
Here were some of my highlights from the gathering:
- The beautiful setting and hospitality. Camp McDowell is a lovely part of God’s creation, and the facilities and staff were first rate, helping us feel welcome and cared for (including a popcorn machine every afternoon!). We made much use of the stunning chapel for prayer and worship.
- A visit to Montgomery. We spent a full, emotional, and powerful day on pilgrimage to historic Montgomery, with visits to the Legacy Museum, the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a bus tour of historic sites from the Civil Rights Movement, and time at St. John’s Episcopal Church with the remarkable Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative.
- The election of a bishop suffragan for the Armed Forces and Federal Ministries. This ministry supports Episcopal chaplains in the military, VA, and federal prisons. After much discernment with the candidates, we elected the Reverend Ann Ritonia. Also, the Rt. Reverend Barry Beisner was confirmed by the House as bishop provisional for Navajoland (in keeping with the recommendation of the people of that missionary area).
- Connecting with other bishops doing work on congregational vitality.
- Treasuring our time with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. As we approach the election of a new Presiding Bishop a year from this summer, I feel mindful that our time as bishops with our Presiding Bishop is growing shorter. We were blessed by two sermons from him during our gathering, both on the theme of discipleship.
While it was good to be with my colleague bishops, I was very pleased to return home to Oklahoma, where I am happiest and most fulfilled in my ministry!