Today, we spent the lion’s share of our day at the consecration of our dicoese’s new Bishop Suffragan. Bavi Edna Rivera, or Nedi as we know her, occupies an interesting place in the history of the Diocese of Olympia (Western Washington) of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA). Follow along, if you dare, on these Fun Nedi Rivera Facts:
- She is the 12th female bishop in the ECUSA and the 16th in the Anglican Communion.
- She is the first Hispanic female bishop.
- She is the third-ever bishop actually consecrated within the diocese (we tend to import).
- She is the 1,001st bishop to be consecrated in the apostolic succession of the Western church. (I’m not certain which churches were considered in this claim; I suspect they mean the Anglican Communion.)
- Her father is also a bishop, making him the first person in the history of the entire Christian church to be a bishop and have his daughter be a bishop.
- From what little we interacted with her, she is just an all-around fantastically cool person and we are excited to have her.
[Ed. You may wonder what a Bishop Suffragan is. According to the American Heritage dictionary, it is “A bishop elected or appointed as an assistant to the bishop or ordinary of a diocese, having administrative and episcopal responsibilities but no jurisdictional functions.” In other words, you have the metropolitan or diocesan bishop who is held responsible; the bishop suffragan can be delegated administrative and pastoral duties, but does not share the same personal responsibility and accountability. They are not the boss of you. Now you now.]
I was both impressed and disappointed by the proceedings. The things I liked:
- Good representation of congreations with the diocese and bishops from other dioceses.
- More than enough room, despite a complicated liturgy.
- The liturgy was extermely well-thought out, including traditional touchstones of Episcopal worship (such as incense, candles, processions) while including all sorts of wonderful innovation (two different types of drumming, decent selections of music that don’t put one to sleep, a orchestra and choir that had a very contemporary, praise-music feel). Lots of banners, streamers, and visual tie-ins to pull everything together on multiple levels.
- Very family and child friendly, with children taking visible and important roles in the liturgy. Treanna was actually able to make it all the way up to the main platform and exchange the Peace with Bishop Rivera, despite being near the back of the space.
- No major screw-ups, at least that I knew. There was the minor issue of the officiating bishop using the word “priest” instead of “bishop” during the prayer of consecration, but hey, all the paperwork says “bishop” and so did all the rest of the bishops, so it’s all good. She gets to keep her amethyst ring.
So what didn’t I like?
- A 48-page program and a 3-hour service. OUCH. The program was so long because they included multiple languages at many points.
- The space used. Because of the expected turnout, we couldn’t use St. Mark’s Cathedral, so they got the convention center in Bellevue. It was weird when we first went in; I remember atttending a job fair in the very same space a couple of years ago.
- It didn’t seem as polished and, well, professional as I would have thought. Then again, that may just be my anal-retentive streak showing back up. Liturgy is not theater and I tend to want it to be theater. I get annoyed because we don’t do blocking at acolyte practice, and I know this is unreasonable. So this is definitely a me-ism, not a fault of the service, especially since (as I said above) nothing major seemed to blow up. No fiery clouds, no destruction, no pillars of salt. w00t!
- The ushers really didn’t seem to be doing any sort of crowd management or seating assistance. Once the service started, they knew what they were doing, but until then, they were doing a fine job of standing in the doorways.
- The homily. It would have been fine at 1/5 the length. How many times can you say “Um, okay, Jesus liked everyone and wanted them all to be His followers, and we keep messing that up, so stop being mean to the women, the people of color, and the homosexuals” before it gets a little repetitive? Answer: not five. That was about three too many. And I refuse to feel bad because I happened to be born into the white middle class. Not my fault, dude.
So that was our Saturday. Long day, especially since we went to the reception afterwards. But that’s a post for another day, because I’m running out my laptop battery while typing this in bed next to a curvy redhead, and I’m going to see how persuasive I can be at getting her participation in other activities before heading off to Dreamland.