Woke up in a Champaign hotel room. (That didn’t come as a particular surprise this time, but there have been occasions since I’ve been doing this job when I’ve awakened in the middle of the night and had to focus pretty hard on remembering where I am.) The proceedings for the Annual Assembly of the Illinois Conference of Churches began with registration at 8:30am. Had some productive chat time with my ELCA counterpart, Bishop John Roth, and the ecumenical officer for the Roman diocese, Fr Kevin Laughery. We then had a worship service in the spectacularly beautiful Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church I had to smile wryly to myself in observing that, in an ecumenical setting, where worship needs to be as non-specific as possible, the event ends of gravitating to the where non-specific worship is the norm; that is, when the goal is the lowest common denominator, those who naturally occupy that territory end up with an experience very much like what they would have come up with on their own and for themselves. So what we did was very pan-liberal protestant. I’d rather we have done something Greek Orthodox.
The theme of the day was Remembering Vatican II Fifty Years Later. The panel consisted of a Roman Catholic ecumenical activist, a United Methodist historian and ecumenist, one of my colleague bishops who served as the Presiding Bishops ecumenical officer for a decade, and the pastor of our host parish. They all had interesting presentations that provoked interesting discussion over lunch and in the afternoon session. I am passionate about ecumenism. Compared to the tsunami of cultural change that we are staring at, the differences that divide Christian from one another seem inconsequential.
After a brief business meeting, we adjourned around 2:30. On the drive home, I checked in by phone with Fr Walter Knowles, who will be leading our clergy and musicians’ conference in November, and Mother Virginia Bennett, laid up recovering from a fractured femur. It will be a long road for her, and for the people of St Andrew’s in Edwardsville. Do hold everyone in your prayers.
I got back to Springfield in time to stop by the office, look at a couple of items that had appeared on my desk, grab my beads and head into the cathedral for the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary, followed by Evening Prayer.