The House of Bishops, meeting at the 77th General Convention in Indianapolis, broke into applause, whistles and laughter July 6 at the sound of L.A. Bishop Jon Bruno’s voice.
A telephone call from Bruno was broadcast during the morning session of the House of Bishops.
“I’m doing fabulous,” Bruno told the bishops. “Thank you for the honor of letting me talk to my brothers and sisters on the phone. It’s been an unbelievable support of grace you’ve given me and Mary and our family.
“We’ve gone from what one doctor said was a hopeless case to a complete remission. I’ve been cleared of leukemia.”
But, he added, “I can’t tell you the impact of your prayers and your cards and letters and thoughts and phone calls. We miss you all, even though it’s the first time since Louisville (in 1973) that I haven’t been at a General Convention. I miss it and never thought I would say that.”
He also told bishops that the Episcopal Medical Trust had ensured that “good care was provided to me. It allowed me to go from the walking dead to the living, praying, hoping person that I am right now.”
He urged bishops to take care of themselves and “not to ignore anything that comes creeping up on you. If you just try to work through it you may be dead. That’s blunt on my part but I’ve had a lot of time to think about it.”
“Good medical care is a right that we should all have,” he added.
Recalling the “terrible things that go on in the world, the lack of care in Sudan and all the wonderful things we try to do to bridge the gap, through Episcopal Relief & Development and Nets for Life.”
He also mentioned Gaza. “I want to encourage you all to pay attention to the fact that in a place where there is no other care other than what the Episcopal Church provides we need to bridge the gaps — in Gaza, especially.”
Experiencing grace through so many well-wishers, Bruno singled out for special thanks and praise Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, as well as Los Angeles Bishops Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce and Mary Douglas Glasspool “who have been unbelievable and upheld me with great strength.”
He also thanked the Rt. Rev. Cathy Roskam, retired suffragan bishop of New York, “who’s come to live in our diocese right now and stood into the breech.” Roskam had filled in on several pastoral visitations for Bruno.
“And, amazingly enough, I couldn’t find a bishop to do a major confirmation and, lo and behold, Stacy Sauls (Episcopal Church Chief Operating Officer) showed up. He flew across the country and helped us out so I could remain in isolation,” he said.
He brought down the house when he added: “The truth is, you haven’t gotten rid of me. I’m coming back with vigor and, I got to tell you how much I appreciate every individual.”
He said that one of the most touching notes he’d had was from someone “who disagrees with me on everything yet stood with me in prayer and love. We have a family, an evolving church that is growing and becoming a stronger place because we understand the great gift of God and power of grace in our lives.”
He said he is keeping track of deliberations via various media. “I hope to see you all at the House of Bishops and I hope to be with you in everything you do,” he added. “Mary and I want to thank each and every one of the members of the house and spouses for the great grace that you’ve given us.
“It’s amazing to hear one day that you’re not going to be alive to see your grandchildren grow older and to, six weeks later, be told you’ve probably got 15 -20 years left.”
Before hanging up he said to the presiding bishop: “Katharine, I thank you especially for your support, prayers, cards and letters. We have a great church, and Mary and I love you all.”
The presiding bishop said, “We love you both as well. I’m reminded that at your first several conventions you were responsible for security. I think you’re still doing some of that work. We hold you in our prayers and we look forward to seeing you once again in our midst. Believe me, you’re in our hearts. God bless you, Jon.”