For me, the story of our just concluded House of Bishops was, in fact, the stories. There was the chilling story of the assassination attempt on the life of Bishop Martin Barahona of El Salvador two days before our meeting began. Thankfully, Bishop Barahona was not hurt; his driver was injured, but will recover. We wrote a letter offering support to the Bishop, his family and the country – and decrying the escalating violence there.
There was the ongoing and heartbreaking story of Bishop Zaché Duracin of Haiti, who told us that it was the first time since January 12 that he had slept in a bed – and not on a cot in a tent. He said that 222,000 people are known to have died in the earthquake; but many estimate that the death toll will eventually approach a half million. And there are 1 to 2 million people who are homeless – in a country of less than 10 million. There is hope and there is commitment, he said; but there is also no end of pain. And a longer timeline than anyone can imagine for when lives return to normal and adequate housing can be rebuilt. A master plan of redevelopment is being put together; but it is revised weekly as the assessment of human and building destruction is updated. Bishop Duracin is a national figure in Haiti. He exhorts people to hold on to their faith – as he demonstrates his own.
We pledged our continued commitment to Haiti – and those of us in Province II (which includes the Diocese of Haiti) have – at this point, agreed to Bishop Duracin’s request that we take the lead in rebuilding the Cathedral.
There was the story of Mary Glasspool’s receiving enough consents from bishops and standing committees so that her consecration can take place on May 15. But that story happened two days before our meeting, and it really wasn’t a story during our time together. There were six bishops-elect at our meeting, and they each were welcomed with eagerness and hospitality into our fellowship. There may have been grumbling in some quarters about a partnered lesbian becoming a bishop, but I didn’t hear it. There was perhaps some anxiety about how the Los Angeles consecration will play beyond The Episcopal Church (TEC), but for the most part the bishops were non-anxious in the face of that anxiety.
Instead, there was a clear sense of celebration for some – and perhaps a feeling of grudging acceptance for others, that we are all in this together. And that now – in a new and different way, we can put more commitment into carrying out God’s witness and mission in a world often shaken by violence and tragedy.