~~the day after our former bishop retired, one of our priests took 80% of his congregation and left the Episcopal church, stranding a remnant of parishioners without care, and shouldering considerable debt
~~another congregation has been discerning their own future within the church, leaning, in public statements, toward departure
~~we have numerous clergy vacancies to fill, some of which represent congregations on the brink of deterioration, others of which live with unresolved conflict
~~one of our congregations closed a week ago, ending a tumultuous eight-year tenure.
Considering these things, it was remarkable to me that the bishop spent nearly two hours with me in leisurely conversation. We covered a variety of ground, talked candidly, laughed, shared perspectives, and began to get to know each other. He listened attentively, and asked questions that indicated a respect for my experience and an appreciation for my input. In the nearly twenty years during which I've had relationships with bishops, I've never had an encounter like this one before. He is a breath of fresh air, and a welcome presence in our midst.