This year, our clergy and diocese will be going through a major transition: the election of a new bishop. The need for stability, peace, and confidence during change is often greatest among those who serve us most, and this year’s conference brought our clergy together to tackle the implications of these coming changes. About 50 clergy members attended the three-day retreat, from Thursday, April 26 to Saturday, April 28, which took place in Waltham, MA, at the Espousal Retreat House. It provided an opportunity for clergy to spend time in fun and relaxation, reflect on their spiritual lives, and hear teachings on managing transitions.
There were several opportunities for fellowship, including five meals on Friday and Saturday served by the Espousal Retreat House’s hard-working staff. During these meals, clergy not only ate and conversed with one another but were able to eat and talk with Bishop Bill. In addition, each day ended with a special time of fellowship and a generous spread of food and drinks, along with the chance to talk late into the night. Fr. Dan Sylvia, rector of Anglican Church of the Redeemer, Franklin, led worship this year during Holy Communion and helped facilitate our music for the whole conference. Frs. Jeffrey Dorn and Geoff Little also led worship during Morning Prayer. Holy Communion took place on the conference’s second night, along with the clergy’s renewal of ordination vows and the blessing of anointing oils, with its corresponding liturgy. The night ended with prayer ministry offered by prayer teams and the opportunity to receive a blessing from Bishop Bill at his final conference as diocesan bishop.
The first night’s opening session was led by The Very Rev. Dr. Nathan Baxter on managing transitions, the first of two sessions he would give, both of which included time for reflection and small group discussion. Fr. Nathan partnered with Bishop Bill through the course of this conference to teach on the dynamics of transition and how to navigate it. Their goal was to encourage perseverance through major shifts, to shed more light on Christ’s work in these moments, to equip our clergy to avoid the pitfalls that come with change, and to more effectively keep focused on their mission despite it.
Bishop Bill led a few sessions on the traditions we’ve established and how those traditions will solidify and shift as a new bishop takes office. He explained our history as a diocese and its significance to the body of Christ and taught on the need for greater administrative precision to help the next bishop pick up where he left of. Both he and the Rev. Canon Susan Skillen, Chair of the Committee on Nominations for Bishop (CNB), presented the CNB’s process in finding our nominees, and what that process will look like in the coming months.
We pray that our clergy returned to their congregations more encouraged and at rest as we enter this new season of transition. Please keep them and Bishop Bill in your prayer as we move forward in our mission to bring the transforming love of Jesus Christ to New England.