Monday, March 09, 2009

Blogging the Conference of Bishops

Shrimp here.

The ELCA Conference of Bishops has been having its Spring Meeting since Thursday at the Eaglewood Resort in Itasca, Illinois. Usually we don't hear too much about what happened until ELCA News gets around to reporting. Of late, those reports have been issued only a day or 2 after the COB has departed, though a few years ago it might take 2-3 weeks. Guess they are more newsworthy now.

Anyway, the Conference of Bishops has since the beginning of the ELCA apparently subscribed to the motto, "What happens in the Conference of Bishops stays in the Conference of Bishops." Oh, yes, there were reports of any significant actions in this ELCA "advisory body." And occasionally there were reports of some disagreements, but except for the full-communion agreement with the Episcopal Church, details were very hard to come by. No, as a rule -- at least for public perception -- when the Bishops spoke as a group, they spoke as a unified group.

So when suddenly Synod Bishops were suddenly getting on line at the last Churchwide Assembly to strongly disagree with each other with what the Bishops had said as a group, long-term observers were stunned. So stunned that one Voting Member, Pastor David Gleason, introduced this resolution from the floor (which, at that point of the agenda, was extraordinary in itself)
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America meeting in Assembly in Chicago Illinois on 11th August 2007 request the ELCA's conference of Synodical bishops to enter into discussion and consideration of the matter of the accountability of bishops to the adopted policies, practices, and procedures of the ELCA and to formulate a clear statement of such accountability for consideration and adoption by the 2009 Assembly of this church.
Quickly adopted by the Assembly, the "Gleason Resolution" has been a topic for the COB ever since. We can expect that we'll be hearing about their response very soon from ELCA News, as the Spring Meeting is when the COB deals with anticipated Churchwide Assembly matters. (So, yes, we'll learn if they have anything to say about the Sexuality Task Force's reports, the state of the ELCA's finances, etc.)

But this year, we may have a little hint ahead of time. One of the avenues for the ELCA's Book of Faith initiative ("to increase biblical literacy and fluency for the sake of the world") is a Ning group ( is one of a growing number of "social networking" sites like "MySpace" or "Facebook"). And one of the features of the Book of Faith Ning Network is the ability for a member to have a blog on his or her own profile page. Several ELCA Bishops are members of the Book of Faith Ning Network. And one Bishop, the Oregon Synod's Dave Brauer-Rieke not only actually blogs there, he's been blogging about the Conference of Bishops meeting.

Shrimp found this from early in his first entry a striking observation:
The first half day of Conference of Bishop (COB) meetings is generally made up of reunions and committee meetings. Those of us who are dealing with sticky problems in our synods usually line up to talk with the ELCA attorneys as we arrive. Thankfully the line wasn’t too long today.
Thankfully indeed.

Turns out Bishop Brauer-Rieke is on the COB's Theological and Ethical Concerns Committee, which also met that first day. So we learn about
... a request from the 2007 Churchwide Assembly that the COB offer a report on our accountability practices. This arose because there was some cross talk between bishops at the 2007 Churchwide Assembly during floor debates. The Theological and Ethical Concerns Committee has been working on this request for the past year. Today we just tuned up our prior work. The COB has very clear accountability practices already in place, both to the church as a whole and to each other. We are glad to share these.
Exactly what the Bishop means, we'll wait for ELCA News to tell us.

You won't find any breaking news from the Conference of Bishops on the Oregon Bishop's blog. But Shrimp got a glimpse of the COB that we'd never seen before. You might check it out.

Shrimp out.

1 comment:

Shrimp said...

Thank you to those who noticed we had misspelled Bishop Brauer-Rieke's name. That was purely sloppy keyboarding on our part, for which we apologize.

Now we're going to soak our claws in a bucket of air for penance.

Shrimp out.

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