Our Assistant Bishops, Sonia and Charlie, have just returned from a 5 day bishops training course in Richmond, Virginia, USA, where they have been equipped and encouraged for their ministry to the Newcastle Diocese. The ‘College for Bishops’ is a three year program run by The Episcopal Church to train, equip and mentor newly-consecrated bishops.
Bps Sonia and Charlie both said they gained much from the reflection time involved in the course – on Diocesan leadership, as well as past and future ministry and mission. They gained wisdom in sharing stories with a group of newly appointed bishops, and shared fellowship with some inspiring leaders. As one example, within their own cohort, there were four African-American women who are the first female African-American bishops to be elected to their Dioceses.
There was media training, discussions of ordinances, what to wear and when (referred to as “hats and sticks”), as well as a Q&A with current and retired bishops from various backgrounds.
A highlight for both Sonia and Charlie was the genuine collegiality across difference that they witnessed within a group of Episcopalians from the U.S., Central America, and now Australia.
“There is genuine collegiality across theological and liturgical difference,” Bishop Charlie said, “We were having conversations with people who were progressive and conservative in a myriad of ways, focusing on generosity, solidarity and forming peer relationships. People disagreed openly but within collegiality.”
These experiences spoke to Bishop Peter’s vision for the Newcastle Diocese, in seeing a comprehensive expression of views exist within the communion of the Diocese.
Bishop Sonia said “It was affirming to be with other bishops who were new, and to learn together. I have returned to Newcastle owning this ministry with enthusiasm. I am really thankful for our Diocese.”
We continue to pray and give thanks for our Assistant Bishops as they lead and serve our Diocese.