How can the Church offer support and training to bishops as they both enter into and develop in their ministry? That was the question being discussed at a round-table meeting organised in Nairobi, Kenya, by the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) and the Anglican mission agency USPG. The discussion arose from an impact report on work undertaken by USPG in their Episcopal Accompaniment programme which found that being a bishop can often be lonely and challenging.
The Episcopal Accompaniment Programme seeks to journey with bishops as they explore how they can better understand and discover new possibilities for themselves, their ministry and their relationship with God. The impact report concluded that the programme was “an extremely valuable project”. The roundtable discussion explored other support options for bishops and identified extra areas of support. It included training and support contributions from CAPA and Trinity Church Wall Street, the New York based Episcopal Church with an extensive history of supporting the Churches of the Communion.
There was a consensus amongst the participants – which included bishops and also providers and funders of training – that there is a clear need for developing the support and training of bishops.
“It was also clear that there was a great deal of creativity and energy in what is already being offered,” a spokesperson for CAPA said. “However, it was evident that there was need for a greater learning from and sharing with one another about the approaches to episcopal training across the Anglican Communion.
“The discussion ended in Nairobi with a commitment to map more widely what was happening in this area across the Communion. Also, to find ways to build on the insights gained so the bishops might be not only better equipped for their ministry but also grow more deeply into the role of chief pastors of God’s people.”
A number of organisations took part in the meeting. In addition to CAPA, USPG and Trinity Church Wall Street, other participants included Church Army Africa, the Anglican Communion Office, The Overseas Bishoprics Fund, Lambeth Palace, Virginia Theological Seminary and the St Augustine’s Foundation.