Tuesday, July 22, 2008

July 22, 2008

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Another beautiful day at The University of Kent, all that is good about English summers. Today was the first day of what will be the "normal" for the rest of the conference (except Thursday, which is the queen's tea.)

This morning we began with worship led by the Church of Central Africa. Our bible study theme for today was from the sixth chapter of John's Gospel, "I am the bread of Life." We were asked to consider the relationship between the bread for life and the bread of life in our context. The we were asked to consider "How does the Eucharist bring life, both in worship and in ordinary life?" In my group, we were blessed with some wonderful insights into African culture and how it differs from our own. In our culture, the Eucharist is a place where relationships are reconciled. We set aside differences, if only for a time, and celebrate our commonality. In the African cultures described in my group that is not possible. Two parties at emnity cannot share the Eucharistic meal or any meal until the conflict is resolved. This certainly helped me understand much of the behavior toward the American Church after the 2003 General Convention.

The rest of the morning was spent in Indaba groups. Our topic today was "The Bishop and Evangelism." Our conversations were organized around two questions: "As a bishop, how am I encouraging evangelism in my diocese?" and "What are the challenges I face in being a leader in Mission?" My group was only three, a bishop from Spain, a bishop from Ireland, and myself. What difference in the situations we face concerning growth in the church.

The afternoon was scheduled to be "self-select" groups, opportunities to meet with other bishops to have conversation around limited subjects. My choice was, from necessity, laundry. Imagine 580 people in a building - 2 working washing machines, no working dryers. Talk about scheduling.

This evening we gathered in the Big Top to hear Cardinal Ivan Dias [Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples at the Vatican] speak to us about the role of the bishop in evangelizing the world. He reminded us of the role of social ministry in carrying out the mission of Christ. Though the cardinal's style was quite different from last night's program with Brian McClaren, his message was powerful.

At the end of another long day of many, many conversations, I reflect and see the Church of Christ in all its glory and in all its broken humanity as we struggle for wholeness. I think it is a struggle most of us endure willingly for the sake of the Gospel because we know that the Risen Lord dwells with us, in us, and through us and that finally He will lead us to His purpose.

God's good blessing on you,

Bishop Keith

1 comment:

Joellewhit said...

Sounds great Dad! I just wanted to leave you a comment because I'm your biggest fan. Thank you for taking the time to report on the happenings there.