[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church met in the Diocese of Taiwan from September 17 to September 23. The following are statements concerning the meeting.
The theme for the fall meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Expanding the Apostolic Imagination.
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:
This meeting has offered abundant opportunities to expand our vision of what is possible as we engage God’s mission. Our chaplain the Rev. Simón Bautista reminded us this morning that we are all bound for home, that we’re meant to travel light – and that “home” is the Reign of God. Our chaplain the Rev. Stephanie Spellers challenged us yesterday to take the journey to unexpected places and communities. The bishops of this Church will return to their dioceses with renewed energy and increased willingness to risk more for the gospel and travel a bit lighter. We have built new relationships with our partners in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and with our brother and sisters in Taiwan. We’ve discovered new readings of the old, old stories and new theological perspectives rooted in different parts of God’s creation. With hearts and minds expanded, we know ourselves part of a body larger and with deeper bonds than we imagined. And we give thanks for knowing what it is to be received as Christ himself. The hospitality of the Diocese of Taiwan has been full measure, pressed down, and overflowing. May God continue to richly bless this part of The Episcopal Church.
Bishop Dean E. Wolfe of Kansas, vice president of HOB and co-chair of the HOB Planning Committee:
The 2014 meeting of the House of Bishops has been an extraordinary and historic gathering.
The first meeting of the House of Bishops in Asia, this meeting has turned our attention to the vibrant ministries of The Episcopal Church taking place in Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. The Bishop of Pakistan, Samuel Azariah, challenged us with reports of Christian persecution in the Middle East and the heroic witness being made by Christians in that region. We have been inspired by visits from the Primates of this region and their forthright descriptions of their context for ministry. We have been encouraged by our visits to the faithful congregations of Taipei, motivated by fresh models for theological education, and touched by the overwhelming generosity and hospitality exhibited by our hosts.
All of us who have congregants from Asia have gained a deeper understanding of the context from which our brothers and sisters have come and a greater appreciation for the Christian witness along the Pacific Rim. We traveled a very long way and at no small expense to come to Taiwan to reinforce a principal which is dear to us; that every diocese is an essential member of our family of faith and no diocese is too small or too far away. We are present here as an outward and visible sign of our commitment to our brothers and sisters in Asia and we have been richly blessed by our time together during this meeting in Taiwan.
Bishop Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan, co-chair of the HOB Planning Committee:
This gathering of the House of Bishops in the Diocese of Taiwan has been the perfect crucible for engaging our theme, “Expanding our Apostolic Imagination.” Removed from the familiarity and comfort of our own dioceses and cultures, we have been challenged by stories of Christian witness not only in Taiwan but also in other Asian contexts such as Hong Kong, Pakistan, Japan, Korea and the Philippines. My own imagination continues to expand as I consider the vision of the future shape of the Church as shared by Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu of Nippon Sei Ko Kai (Anglican Church in Japan): the Church as a Community of the People of God who are gathered, nourished, and sent to proclaim peace and reconciliation, grounded in repentance. I leave this meeting reminded that to be an apostle, one who is sent, and to invite others to be people sent to proclaim God’s message of peace and reconciliation, we must not rush headlong into action with programs and events. Rather, we must begin with self-examination and spiritual acts of repentance that ground our message and lend it integrity. Only then will our message of peace and reconciliation be received as the Good News that it indeed is.
We are immensely grateful for Bishop Lai and the gracious hospitality of the people of the Diocese of Taiwan for their tireless efforts to provide this experience and space for creative reflection. On behalf of the Planning Committee and the entire House of Bishops, we give thanks for Lori Ionnitiu of the General Convention Office who has coordinated all onsite arrangements. Finally, the Rev. Canon Charles Robertson and Ednice Baerga of the Presiding Bishop’s staff have once again worked tirelessly behind the scenes to afford us this opportunity to expand our apostolic imaginations.
Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce of Los Angeles, assistant secretary of HOB:
There were 112 bishops and many spouses in attendance at the meeting, with the Bishop Bob G. Jones, retired from the Diocese of Wyoming, being the senior bishop present. This has been an extremely worthwhile and valuable trip as a member of The Episcopal Church and especially Province VIII. With the growing Asian community in the United States, especially on the West Coast including my home diocese of Los Angeles, having firsthand knowledge and witness of the context and content of ministry and mission, we are able to more directly address our mutual needs. I am grateful to Bishop Lai and his clergy and laity and the people of the Diocese of Taiwan for their radical hospitality and their ability to do mission and ministry in the name of Jesus Christ in diverse locations. We have much to learn and share
Bishop David Lai of Taiwan, host of the HOB meeting:
Dreams come true not just for me, but also for all the bishops and their spouses – everyone of us. I believe the trip may have taken a long time – 16 hours – to get here, but the things we experienced are full of experiences to remember, to share and to learn about and to tell their church members. The memories will remain longer than 16 hours. All praise the Lord.