Special Edition Blessings!

6 November 2013, 
Feast of William Temple, 
Archbishop of Canterbury
Requiescat in Pace
The Rt. Rev. William Benjamin Spofford
28 January 1921 - 5 November 2013

  

All journeys start some place ... even ours ... 

And then on they go,

To homes, to households, to other meals and other

Offerings. Thanks be to God! 

  

From Journey: Alpha-Omega,
 p. 119

 
Bishop Bill Spofford, 4th Bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Oregon, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Washington and Bishop Chaplain at Saint George's College, Jerusalem, prophet, priest, poet and pastor died yesterday in Portland, Oregon just after receiving Ministration at the Time of Death. 
          He was a mountain of a man in mind, body and spirit. Ordained deacon St Andrew's Day 1944 and priest in 1945, he was serving St Michael's Cathedral in Boise when he was elected by the House of Bishops to serve in the Missionary District of Eastern Oregon in 1968. He was consecrated on the Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul (25 January) 1969 during a snowstorm in Ontario.
          He had previously served as chaplain to the Massachusetts General Hospital and Clinical Training Fellow at the Kansas State Hospital and Boys Industrial School, Topeka, Kansas. In 1967 he and one other priest were also the first men duly elected to serve as delegates to the Triennial Meeting of the Women of the Church. He was elected to serve on the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church in that same year.
          Bishop Spofford was inspired by having met Ghandi in 1931 in London and by his father who served for many years as editor of The Witness. He had a heart for social justice and was a member of he ACLU, the League of Women Voters and the Oregon United Nations Association.  
          In EDEO where he often arrived for visitations and meetings on his motorcycle, he worked for new models of broader ministry, ecumenical relationships, a functional diaconate, a new vision of stewardship in which "we are learning about sharing, we are learning about what is important and what is lesser in meaning and value." He lived and preached a gospel that integrated world and church, peace and justice, faith and life, mind, spirit and body, and all Creation in God:
 
"Remember, always remember,
That we have received the Bread of Life
And know ... and perhaps pray ...
That we and the feeding jays are one.
 
-- From  The Jays' Sabbath Break-fast, p.148

 
          In 1979, at his last convention before he began his service as "one of Eastern Oregon's missionaries in Washington, D.C." (to be Assistant Bishop there with Bishop John Walker) he spoke of the strength, determination, vision and "corporate cussedness"of our diocese, and he charged the diocese to be cognizant of the responsibility and  and privilege of choosing their own bishop. He returned often to Eastern Oregon and lived in Sisters before he and Polly moved to Portland.  He spent the weekend at Ascension School and presided at the Easter Eucharist at St Peter's, La Grande in 2011.  It was his last visit to the diocese.
          Bishop Kimsey in a sermon preached to celebrate Bishop Spofford's 90th birthday said, "he was fearless in his leadership for us and for Christ...and I think his effectiveness as a bishop was essentially because he believed that the Body of Christ...you and me...can face into any issue and if we are prayerful enough, and if we talk enough, and if we are hopeful enough...nothing will separate us one from another...and even more important we will be the agents of justice and compassion Christ intends us to be."
         He put his hope and faith in God and in Jesus' resurrection.  When I visited him his faith was vibrant and grace-filled, but he missed Polly, his beloved wife, friend, partner in ministry. He looked forward to being with her again and so he is. He concludes his poem, Excuses, Excuses based on Luke 9.51-62, thus:
 
. . .
Choose well, and wisely, my own, my dearest friend,
No other can commit you in the end
Except yourself ... then the kingdom road we will wend.
 

Together as baptized brother or sister and Lord. 

No turning back; no excuses are taken, 

We'll plough Hell's fields, foundations shaken,

  

To the hilltop city, Jerusalem's gates of gold, 

Where, with all the martyrs and saints of old, 

We'll share the feast, with joyous songs and

Spirit bold!

  

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia 

  

 - From  Excuses, Excuses, p. 136)


All poem quotations are found in

  Pilgrim In Transition

Jerusalem Jottings, Galilee Gleanings and Sinai Solitudes

by William B. Spofford, published by Five Brothers Press, 1997 )