Do you ever wonder what a bishop does? We asked our Bishop James Mathes to describe an average week in his life, and he kindly sent us this description:
On Sunday mornings, I spend time with a different congregation each week. These visitations are a great source of joy for me. They are a time when I can rejoice in each congregation’s ministry, listen for the ways I may learn something new, and in many cases, share stories from the wider diocesan community. These visitations are a fundamental way in which I strive to be the connective tissue of the body in this diocese.
I celebrate or preside at every service and afterward, I will often have lunch with the vestry (governing body) of the congregation.
Regularly the service will include baptisms, confirmations, receptions and reaffirmations, all of which require careful planning and organization on the part of the congregation.
Recently I have requested that each congregation provide a time for me to teach, and a time to serve. I’ve handed out food, washed cars, washed feet, and assembled bag lunches for the homeless. It’s been a great source of revitalizing energy for me, and a good way to connect with the people of our diocese.
Mondays are my days off and are usually spent at home in my woodshop, or with my wife, Terri.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are office days. These days are quite full of meetings with clergy, staff, individuals exploring ordination, community leaders, ecumenical partners, etc. I offer the opportunity for all clergy to meet with me during their birthday months as a way to check in and let them know I’m available for them, as their pastor.
I am on the board of Episcopal Community Services and The Bishop’s School, and attend regular, monthly meetings for each. I am the president of the Diocesan Executive Council; our regular, monthly meetings are on Saturdays. I meet with the Standing Committee, which is the body that functions as my trusted advisors, and the Commission on Ministry, which manages the process of discernment for those pursuing ordained ministry. I meet with anyone who makes an appointment and would like to talk with me. I have an open door policy with my staff, so that time permitting, I am available to them whenever they need me.
Recently I have been hosting fireside briefings in my home on week nights to help familiarize people with our new diocesan Mission Plan, the guiding principles of our common life in the coming months and years.
During the week I sometimes drive to the Riverside highlands or to the desert for regional office hours. These provide an easy way for people in all regions of our diocese to meet with me without having to drive to San Diego.
Fridays are my writing days. If necessary, I will come into the office on Fridays for meetings, but I prefer to stay home and write sermons, articles and other materials.
Saturday mornings bring Executive Council meetings. We move our meeting to a new congregation each month to help us get a tangible sense of our diocese. Special services such as centennial celebrations, new ministry celebrations, and others, will often fall on Saturdays. Saturday nights find me leading services, or attending a vestry meeting.
Sunday morning begins the whole, joyous process over again!
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