The Living Church is reporting that Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh has decided not to go to the fall House of Bishops meeting. The article is HERE. That's his call, but I am sorry to see it.
Part of the promises made in becoming a bishop is that a person will take there part in the governance of the church. (BCP p. 18) The HoB meetings are part of that. No doubt some meetings are easier to go to than others and some may be injurious to one's spiritual health. This one might seem particularly poisonous. But perhaps not.
The bishops have just been to Lambeth which seems to have been an eye-opener to many that the Anglican world was much more complex than previously supposed, and still a world of positive interactions even among people who differ every bit as much as Bishop Duncan and some bishops of this church might differ. So perhaps the HoB is in a more thoughtful mood than Bishop Duncan anticipates.
He seems to believe that he is going to be pushed out the door at the HoB meeting. “Given that I have been judged guilty by the Title IV disciplinary committee (without even my knowledge, prior to their findings, that there had been charges brought against me), and given the determination of the Presiding Bishop and her chancellor to proceed in this direction…I cannot see a way to bring myself to be present at the coming meeting of the House,” Bishop Duncan continued. “In light of all that has happened so far, what kind of ‘hearing’ can I expect the leadership to accord me? The constitution and canons are more than plain ‘in their literal and grammatical sense’ and the public documents and charges together, with my response, have long been in your hands.”
At the same time there was a statement from the Episcopal Church news official that, " she was not aware of any plans for disciplinary action during the fall gathering." In addition there has been no suggestion yet that the three senior bishops have concurred in inhibition.
Bishop Duncan seems convinced that he will not get a fair hearing. He has protested the findings of the Title IV Committee stating that he is a true son of the Church. Of course that has been followed by acting that out by working very hard to see that the next Convention of the Diocese of Pittsburgh votes to leave the Episcopal Church. It is, as they say, a time of mixed messages.
But no mixed message here. He is not going in order to be vilified.
There it is. For a variety of reasons Bishop Duncan has attended only part of some meetings, walked out of the House of Bishops at General Convention, attended half the Lambeth Conference and worshipped apart from the majority of the bishops and the Presiding Bishop. Fair enough. It's hard to go where they bite at the heels, or the agenda is spirit and mind numbing or the congregation unfriendly. But no one said the vows to be part of this particular colleague group - the House of Bishops - would be easy.
Mostly I am sorry to see this happen. No presence no present. No gift without the presence of the giver.And Bishop Duncan has gifts to bring, even if the gift is to bear the burden of the day.