On Wednesday, May 25th, I attended a walkabout at Collington. The focus of this walkabout was specifically on concerns for seniors and retirees.
The afternoon session began with the question about how the candidates would minister to diversity.
John Harmon spoke first. He expressed the thought that diversity should be more than mere tolerance. There is a need to communicate well. People must live together, not just visit.
Mariann Budde spoke next. She first became really aware of how different people could be when her second son was born. They were -- and are -- very different from one another. She noted that living in tension makes us sicker. We need to embrace our different communities and live into the fullness of our uniqueness.
Jane Gould spoke next. She feels called to be bishop because of diversity. She recognizes she serves a very diverse church. Young people meet elders in her very diverse parish. In her parish there is a need for communications across generations and racial differences. They also have partnerships with other, different congregations.
Ronald Abrams spoke next. He has done congregational work in a black church. He personally loves diversity in all its ways. It must be nurtured. He would create a bishop's lunch to bring together groups of clergy and a wardens' dinner to bring together groups of lay leadership.
Samuel Candler addressed us next. He mentioned that he grew up in a small church where diversity was the rule. The more diverse the church, the more you learn about God. He quoted Mother Teresa when she was asked by a young person what they could do, Mother Terese replied "Smile at the people you live with."
The audience now asked questions. The first was about gays being elected to high positions.
Samuel Candler said he supported same sex unions but also supported the world wide community -- which has members who do not.
Jane Gould spoke next. She signed the vote for Gene Robinson. She noted she served in a diverse community with varying views on this issue. She noted that one church leader in Africa had six wives but was still welcomed into the church. We must struggle with this issue every day.
John Harmon answered next. No one's gift should be denied. We need to connect with those who have different views.
Ronald Abrams spoke next. He was personally mentored ans supported by all kinds of clergy. Our broad and wide commitment to Christ is what brings us together. What we have together is greater than what we have apart.
One questioner asked about the breakdown of respect for divergent points of views.
John Harmon has met with most congregations in this diocese. He noted we must act on the views of the majority, but respect those who differ.
Samuel Candler commented that the antidote to bad behavior is to model right behavior.
Ronald Abrams cited examples of people working together.
Jane Gould observed that we must take moral positions in the larger community while respecting differences. She observed that government and political leaders have lost the sensibility that we have more in common than in difference.
Marian Budde said that is one reason why she wants the church to grow. We can help set the tone.
Financial matters were also the subject of one question. Budde said it was necessary to rebuild some congregations. Gould said that people give to what is most transformative in their lives. Candler said much the same thing. Harmon said people give to enterprises that reach the larger generation. Abrams said people must give out to the community and that is is important to bring out all parts of the community. Budde said it is important to listen to our elders because they have learned much. Harmon noted that it is important to listen to all groups. Candler said this his church had started a retirement home for seniors on low fixed incomes. He added that elders have wisdom. Gould noted that we need to help our elders. Addressing structural problems in our society is important.
I almost certainly missed some things. I will observe, again, that the candidates responded in similar ways to the variety of communities that they met. That, I will add, is quite expected and good. A candidate for bishop should be open and honest with all.
Once again, I did put some photos up on Flickr. You can find them as Bishop Walkabout, Collington.
I hope these notes and photos help people.
There is a good chance I will write my thoughts on this blog in the next few days -- perhaps a week or so. I will comment that all five candidates seem to be personally good people with sharp, open minds. I do expect that those who oppose women in priesthood would be happy to have the two women candidates as members, even lay leaders. I can't be sure of that, though.