The following are the 3 questions each
of the candidates were asked in their initial Nomination/application
to enter the Search Process. Each
of the candidate's original answers have not been revised and are presented
here to assist in assessing the leadership strengths of each candidate
who will be on the Convention ballot October 12.
QUESTION #1 How will you provide
leadership in this diocese regarding the important issues facing
The Episcopal Church today? How will you engage those who disagree
My model for leadership is Moses guiding Israel through the wilderness.
He spent time with God in the tent of meeting (prayer and contemplation).
Sticking close to God was half the picture. The other half was
sticking close to the people. Moses walked the same desert road,
ate the same food, and endured the same hardships as the children
of Israel. He befriended his people. We listen to our friends,
trust people we know, people who know us, respect us, and care
about us. When Israel went astray, Moses interceded for them because,
fallible as they were, they were his people. I want to be faithful
to God and faithful to people, with all their endearing and not-so-endearing
Friendship is a relationship among equals. I believe in Servant
Leadership – decisions made by groups, people respecting
and empowering each other, listening to one another, and discerning
calls. When Moses shared his authority with the 70 elders, he became
a model of Servant Leadership. As a Servant Leader, I believe we
must entrust authority to those who have the responsibility for
fulfilling the mission. Good leaders do not micro-manage. We trust
each other. And we support each other in the call to live out our
Baptismal Covenant in active ministry.
But Servant Leadership isn’t just following the crowd. Moses
knew the destination. The leader’s job is to remember the
common purpose, the core values. In the Church, that means our
apostolic mission. We are here “to restore all people to
unity with God and with each other in Christ.” (Catechism)
The Spirit of the Lord is upon us to do the same things Jesus did, “to
preach good news to poor . . . to proclaim release to the captives,
recovery of sight to the blind . . . to set at liberty those who
are oppressed.” That’s what makes us the Body of Christ.
The leader remembers the mission. The Church is often under pressure
to depart from her inclusive, reconciling mission, and that’s
when the leader has to be ready to make hard choices and take the
As long as there are people in the Church, we will have disagreements.
Group-think uniformity is not our Anglican way. We hold differences
in creative tension. We let truth emerge gradually through conversation.
That tolerant, patient way is sometimes “untidy,” as
Bishop Tutu says. But it has worked beautifully. For example, two
couples in my congregation were at odds forever. It was a case
of Christian Coalition Pat Robertson Republicans versus George
McGovern peace and freedom Democrats. But the conflict only started
with politics. They fought over everything – whether to purchase
a pipe organ, whether to cut down the magnolia tree, whether to
use Styrofoam or paper cups at coffee hour. But when the Democrat
husband died, the Republican couple was there at the hospital to
take his widow home. They still visit her in the nursing home and
take her to have her hair done every week. Communion is about personal
relationships that run deeper than our opinions. Sometimes we fight
most with those we love.
Today, gay inclusion is undeniably an important issue. But other
issues – for example, the authority of women, the way to
use Scripture, and plain old power struggles – ratchet up
the emotionality and keep us from reasoning together. Gay inclusion
is part of a much larger controversy. One Georgia congregation
sponsored seven anti-gay inclusion resolutions at the 2005 Diocesan
Convention. Following the 2006 General Convention, their priest
left the Episcopal Church and invited his congregation to go with
him to form a break-away church. I was sent to meet with them.
That afternoon, I listened to a room full of angry people venting.
But here’s the surprise: homosexuality never came up. They
were concerned about the authority of Scripture and the centrality
of Christ. We eventually had a friendly conversation, and that
Church is doing quite well today. They have just called a progressive
We are struggling to balance two goals. The Church’s statement
on gay inclusion, To Set Our Hope On Christ, makes clear that we
are morally bound to be just, compassionate, and inclusive. But
we are also obliged to try to hold the Body of Christ together,
to keep our family at the table. That is what Bishop Katharine
and other Bishops were trying to do with the “restraint resolution.” Regrettably,
keeping everyone at the table is sometimes impossible. W. H. Auden
wrote poignantly of the “failed caresses” in life.
But to the extent we succeed, there will be dissenters in our midst.
I welcome dissenters. Without them, there is a hole in the catholicity
of the Church. I want to learn from my sisters and brothers who
disagree. Whether I like it or not, I need them here. When people
disagree with me, I listen respectfully, honor the integrity with
which the other person speaks, respond compassionately to the pain
out of which they speak, and keep alert for the truth in what they
are saying. I ask questions to clarify their concerns and I look
for common ground. I cannot keep them here by betraying God or
acting unjustly. But I can walk the desert road with them, befriend
them, and respect them. I do my best to keep our differences set
in a larger context of personal relationship. Then I say the Serenity
Prayer every day.
A leader must also deal with people disagreeing with each other.
My own parish has gone through its conflicts, large and small.
And I have helped other congregations work through their differences.
When Paul wrote to a divided Church in Corinth, he prescribed “faith,
hope, and love.” We speak truth lovingly. We are patient
and forbearing with regard to our own goals, but not at the cost
of fidelity to God’s call. We keep our faith in God to reconcile
us, either now or in the fullness of time. We hope for the day
when not just spatting Anglicans but all God’s children will
be so awed by God’s glory shining in each and every child
that we will forget our differences and forgive each other.
QUESTION #2 Our diocese is
highly diverse in multi-cultural expression and a combination of
urban and rural/frontier geography. How would you lead the education
and ministry development in such a large and sparsely populated
Total Ministry Development. Bishop Frensdorff made Nevada a pioneer
in this field, and the Commission On Ministry is already creating
an imaginative, innovative, and ambitious new model for ministry
development today. The COM believes an excellent vision is coming
into focus, and I agree.
What Nevada decidedly does not need is an outsider coming in with
a different vision, or a set of “better” ideas from
somewhere else. I would hope to join as an energetic new partner
in the project. I would be a partner with a good deal of experience
in ministry development and Christian Education, some ideas to
share in due time, and a heart full of enthusiasm for empowering
the ministries of others. I would bring ears to hear and eyes to
see – a willingness to learn first and then become a servant
leader, in partnership with the COM and others who will plan and
implement this program.
My own theological education began in Idaho’s Deacon Formation
program. Some of the priests who taught us said that we were getting
better education than they had gotten in seminary. While there
are advantages to seminary, there can also be a disconnect between
the academic language of professors and the practice of parish
ministry. Much of my ministry has been devoted to bridging that
gap by translating academic teachings into plain English.
One of my favorite movie scenes is in Apollo 13, when the astronauts
and engineers have to use whatever they can find on board, yes
even duct tape, to retrofit a square filter onto a round vent.
Just so, we have to adapt resources and education models to meet
unique Diocesan needs. The COM envisions a model for ministry development
based on training teams, ministry education programs like Life
Cycles or EFM, and individual mentoring. I support that model and
believe I could make a contribution:
Training Teams. I love teaching and would welcome the chance to
participate in training teams. I have administered and taught in
a training program for spiritual directors; organized and trained
lay pastoral care teams; and taught many classes in Scripture,
theology, prayer, church history, and social issues.
Education Programs. I am familiar with various education programs
(EFM, Disciples of Christ in Community, and Living Into Our Baptism).
I have experience with Servant Leadership training and the Lutheran
Congregational Leader series. Although my present Diocese uses
Fresh Start for new clergy and I have friends who have benefited
from Fresh Start, I don’t have direct experience with it,
and I know only what I have read about Life Cycles and Journey
Into Faith. So I would have some things to learn as well as some
things to offer.
Mentoring. I have been blessed with several good mentors myself
and have spoken by telephone about parish issues to a wise family
systems consultant in New York at least twice a month for over
16 years. Since ordination, I have attended (and some years facilitated)
a clergy support group. More and more these days, other clergy
have been calling me for advice. I don’t always have the
answers, but I can usually ask helpful questions. I have served
as spiritual director to aspirants and clergy and been a site supervisor
for interns seeking ordination. I hope to continue supporting fellow
clergy in these ways wherever I am.
The saying goes, “We are flying this plane while we’re
building it.” That appears to be how Nevada has created and
implemented a creative, progressive model for ministry development.
My approach would be to keep flying the plane and keep building
it at the same time. Part of the beauty of Total Ministry is that
it is always a work in progress.
General Christian Education. Education programs are vitally important
to parishes – urban and rural, large and small. They deepen
relationships; attract people to the community; and provide pastoral
support and guidance. Parker Palmer reminds us that education is
about soul shaping, enriching the whole person, including the heart.
Parishes look to the Diocese for suggestions and resources to
support their education of children, youth, and adults. The Bishop
should work with the Resource Officer and others to support parish-based
programs. The resources and specific educational priorities of
each parish are different. The Diocese should honor the unique
character of each congregation, being supportive rather than directive.
A Servant Leader would support parish programs primarily by facilitating
exchanges of ideas and sharing of resources among parishes. From
their web sites, it is clear that a number of Nevada parishes are
offering truly first-rate education programs. I’ve already
passed on some of what Nevada parishes are doing to my Adult Education
team. There are already good ideas in the parishes, and they deserve
to be spread around.
Nevada’s spaciousness does create special challenges in
supporting education for rural congregations. But large dioceses
with sparse populations are the reason God created cyberspace and
said, “It is good.” Now it’s up to the Diocese
to be fruitful and multiply learning on-line. Directors of Religious
Education, catechists, and other Christian Educators could exchange
ideas through list serves, blogs, chat rooms, and even the old-fashioned
conference call. Besides building community, when parishes help
each other, it is cost-effective. As priest of a small church with
a moderate income membership, I’ve spent nearly 14 years
doing a lot with a little. I have learned that soul-deepening Christian
Education doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if we
Some congregations, such as Native American, Hispanic, and Filipino
communities, need special Diocesan support that neighboring parishes
may not be able to provide. The Diocese can connect those congregations
to resources through the United Theological Seminary Indian Ministries
Program, <www.episcopaleslatinos.org>, and other such specialized
sources. Campus, young adult, senior, and singles ministries in
the urban areas may also benefit from special support.
The Diocese must, of course, provide training in such areas as
anti-racism, diversity, and inclusion; stewardship; and protecting
children from abuse. A combination of electronic media, traveling
trainers, and licensing local trainers could make important learning
opportunities available without placing undue burdens on parishes.
Most ministry is done at home, work, and otherwise out in the world.
We have to be realistic about how much time the Church can consume.
Too much churchiness is not good stewardship. And the job of the
Diocesan office is to support parish ministries, not get in their
Finally, Christian Education should include a healthy dose of
fun – for example, parties around the Diocese in conjunction
with locally aired broadcasts of the Trinity Institute; on-line
discussion groups for books and movies; etc. My parish received
national publicity last fall, and welcomed quite a few unchurched
visitors, for our series on the Gospel in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
After all, learning often goes better with a laugh.
How does your theology integrate the elements of scripture, reason
Are there differences in your focus and style when functioning in pastoral
or leadership roles?
Theology is “faith seeking understanding.” It begins
in a trusting relationship with God, then tries to find a language
to describe and express that relationship. It is a language of
love, a life-giving language that gives us the courage to live
boldly and compassionately in the world.
Scripture, Tradition, and Reason are the raw materials of theology.
We get the vocabulary of faith from these sources. But Scripture,
Tradition, and Reason have been used for both good and evil. There
is religion that washes the wounds of lepers in Calcutta and religion
that flies airplanes into skyscrapers. The dividing line is not
between Christianity and Islam (or any other faith tradition).
There are Muslims who perform acts of mercy and Christians who
commit acts of terrorism. Everything depends on the lens through
which we look at our sources. Good religion depends on reading
all three of our sources of truth through the lens of a central
guiding image: the Love of God, which for Christians is revealed
in Jesus Christ.
My beliefs are grounded in Scripture as it has been interpreted
through the centuries (that’s Tradition). Then I use Reason,
including science, philosophy, experience, and common sense, to
apply Scripture to the issues of today. I hope for “a kneeling
theology,” beliefs grounded in prayer and contemplation. “Praying
shapes believing,” we say. And I hope for a pastoral theology,
beliefs grounded in the reality of daily life.
Spiritual leadership and pastoral care both depend on honest theology
that speaks to ordinary people living ordinary lives. I adapt my
manner to the pastoral or leadership situation, and the timing
of our truth-speaking depends on the circumstance. But it’s
always the same truth we hold. Reason keeps theology honest. Honest
theology is reverent in the face of mystery. It acknowledges that
we are stammering about truths we cannot fully grasp. Honest theology
admits that Scripture and Tradition include diverse viewpoints
that make rigid theological precision impossible. The Bible is
not always an answer book. Sometimes it’s a question book,
a text to be prayed with and lived with, an aid to faithful and
open-hearted listening to the living God who, as the hymn says, “has
yet more truth to break forth from his word.” The diversity
embedded in Scripture and Tradition keeps doctrine flexible enough
to meet people where they are.
Reason isn’t all in the head. It’s also in the heart.
Spiritual leadership and pastoral care are both sensitive to human
need. For example, I remember the case of a still birth. The distraught
mother pleaded with the hospital chaplain to “baptize” her
dead child. The chaplain refused, saying “sacraments are
for the living, not the dead.” The chaplain described the
situation to me as “a teaching moment.” In that sad
circumstance, I expect the only lesson the mother learned was the
hard-heartedness of the Church. Thanks be to God, an obstetrical
nurse, who was the wife of an Episcopal priest, poured water over
the baby and assured the mother that her baby was born in God’s
image, never knew sin, was alive in the heart of God, held by Christ,
and filled with eternal life by the Spirit; and that in the fullness
of time she would see her child in light and love. Now that was
good theology. That was teaching something true and kind and beautiful.
Whether the nurse’s action was technically a “baptism” wasn’t
really the point.
Scripture, Tradition, and Reason are the foundation of a living
faith for today. They hold us up. They don’t pen us in. Theology
isn’t a barb-wire fence around our creative imagination and
honest inquiry. It’s an open range to explore. Four quotations
from Scripture and Tradition express the heart of my theology:
1. Jesus’ most frequent commandment was “Fear not.”
2. Paul said, “For freedom, Christ has set us free.”
3. St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is a human being
4. St. Ignatius Loyola said “All things glorify God by being
Good theology instills the faith that sets us free. Good theology
gives us courage to live fully and fearlessly and to become our
own unique selves to the glory of God.
AL KEENEY's Essay Answers
CATHY DEATS' Essay Answers
ERIC FUNSTON's Essay Answers
JEFF PAUL's Essay Answers
SUSAN BURNS' Essay Answers
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