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Jeff Paul  Essay Answers from


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 with you?

As Robin Williams says, ”No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.” The bottom line of our life in the Body of Christ is relationships. Building relationships, maintaining relationships and the hard work and shared joys of relationships are the heart of the matter.

Episcopal leadership has deacons’ work at its heart. That is, the bishop brings the concerns of the wider Church and the world to the diocese and carries the passion and the vision of the diocese to the world and the wider Church. To engage in such a role, listening would be the primary tool. Listening to those who disagree is key, because in our tradition, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Disagreements can sometimes bring our passion and our vision into clearer focus with greater depth. My spiritual director of 21 years says, “Feel what you feel... and be kind.” I would encourage ideas and opinions to be are shared in appropriate ways, communicated and catalogued in appropriate places. With a deacon’s heart, I would expect to learn a great deal from the deacons of Nevada.

Episcopal leadership has priests’ work at its heart. While listening and interpreting between the wider Church and world and the diocese, I would preach the Gospel and celebrate the rites relegated to the Episcopate in partnership with each faith community and congregation in the diocese, so that the teachings of Jesus prevail. I would stay in close relations with our priests in Nevada. The bishop is a pastor to the pastors, both deacons and priests, “a servant of the servants of God”.

Episcopal leadership has the promises of Baptism at its heart. So while we disagree, we gather, share, repent, witness, love and respect, bless, care for those less fortunate, always with an eye to gathering the diocese as a people of God in Nevada. I would collaborate with the baptized in all the faith communities of Nevada. I would build consensus where possible and encourage tolerance when not. The bishop models the way of love, the path of the broken who are loved by God, the journey toward peace.

In the Appreciative Inquiry model, we’re called to exercise compassion that is tender in the face of suffering, fierce in the face of injustice, and playful in the face of insurmountable odds. “...There’s bound to be one other person who agrees.”


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 diocese?

In the July issue of National Geographic an article entitled “Swarm Theory” describes the collaborative intelligence observed in the habits of insects and animals. There are three traits observed in bee swarms, ant colonies and antelope herds that create amazing intelligence: seek a diversity of options; encourage a free competition among ideas; use an effective mechanism to narrow choices.

Education and ministry development happen in relationships. The best education and ministry development tools don’t just inform, they transform. Education and ministry development is meant to be transformational, so that we become agents of change in order to transform the world. Education for Ministry, Lifecycles, Rooted in God, Godly Play, and Journey to Adulthood are examples of education materials that are transformational. They encourage swarm intelligence. The Episcopal Diocese of Nevada has never been, nor I suspect will it ever become, The Church as Corporate America. We base everything we do on relationships.

I would approach education and ministry development in our vast multi-cultural and urban/frontier geography utilizing the elements of swarm intelligence. Collaboration between Diocesan Council, Standing Committee, and Commission on Ministry is essential. Ministry Development and Support Teams could be created among the clergy in each of the four mission districts, making sure that these efforts are staffed and supported by the diocese. Congregational Development Teams could be created to work within parishes in consort with vestries and clergy to enhance and support the ministry of all the baptized. We would continue to utilize the principles of Total Ministry which have been effective in identifying and engaging ministries, both lay and ordained. We would expect the best from one another.

The elements of swarm intelligence, decentralized control, response to local cues, and simple rules of thumb, add up to “a shrewd strategy to cope with complexity” in Nevada. The key, according to the article, is that groups of humans “tend to be wise only if individual members act responsibly and make their own decisions in consultation with each other. A group won’t be smart if its members imitate one another, slavishly follow fads, or wait for someone to tell them what to do.“

Education and ministry development designed to be transformational for clergy and lay people alike would revolve around three main strategies for the diocese, which can be seen in a different format in the diocesan profile and are the emerging agenda of the diocese:

a. A leadership strategy, as outlined above, with a strong component including youth and young adults;

b. A building and property strategy which focuses on our physical assets and historical sites, including Galilee;

c. A Community Engagement strategy, focused on social justice and outreach, designed to respond at the local level.

All three would address the question, “What in God’s name is going on in here in Nevada?”

We’re a mining state, among other things. We know how to dig deep and find the good stuff. We know how to tap our potential, engage God’s vision for us, and celebrate the gifts we have been given to do God’s work in Nevada.


QUESTION #3   How does your theology integrate the elements of scripture, reason and tradition?
Are there differences in your focus and style when functioning in pastoral or leadership roles?

The most potent teaching I have received is: in God’s world, scripture, tradition and reason exist in tension as much as they do in balance; in God’s world, we lead with whichever source fits the setting, looking for the opportunity to teach, to learn, to collaborate, to support one another in love and grace. In a pastoral role, particularly in the face of some crisis or moment of truth, the heartfelt language of the Psalms speaks powerfully and passionately in many ways with many voices. To sit with people, attend to their story, then read a Psalm or refer to the Psalms is a potent way to re-connect with the wider faith community and the ‘living word‘ of scripture. Since the Psalms are embedded in the Prayer Book, both scripture and the tradition of the Church through common prayer are brought to bear. In a leadership role, remembering the stories of our forefathers and foremothers through the history of the Church as well as the ancient tales in scripture, enriches our sense of place in God’s economy. In a leadership role involving the business of the Church, reason leads and is informed by the deep structure of scripture and tradition, always mindful of God‘s purpose. All of this would be surrounded by prayer, which draws on each of the three sources.

The overriding trajectory is, ‘our own story’ connecting to The Story through many stories in scripture and tradition. Jesus was not a Westerner. He didn’t have to contend in the same way with the tension between scripture, tradition and reason. He contended with these tensions, seen in various conflicts with religious leaders in the Gospels. He told stories in the face of conflicts and questions. He connected their story to The Story through stories, a particularly confounding approach. He offered his stories to all comers, while devoting himself to those whom knew they were broken, who came to him for healing. His touch healed them. His power healed them. His stories healed them.

Story can carry us in ways that reason cannot. “And so it came to pass...” holds out the possibility of redemption; it carries so much weight, is so laden with promise, and conveys the potential of a power greater than ourselves. “And so it stands to reason...” may keep us in the room, but rarely compels us to action. Stories compel us. Jesus knew that. Reason connects us to the action which is required.

The Story through scripture and tradition is the key to our unique place on the planet. It is what makes us followers and leaders, healers and those who are healed. Scientists are utilizing the language of mystery to describe barely observable phenomena in our universe. Quantum physics meets the world of theology. The Episcopal Church and its members are in a unique position to claim both worlds, enjoy and enjoin the tension between them, and bear the fruits of such theological reflection. It is an exciting prospect. We are being healed of our enlightened separations and intellectual compartments, invited back into a time of power through story. True enlightenment is illumined by the Holy Spirit.

There is so much rich interchange, so much interpretation, so much vision in the unfolding of God‘s work, when we remain mindful of all three sources - scripture, tradition, reason - for theological contemplation and action. To remember means to put back together. When we remember, we put each other back together and we are put back together, we are healed and made whole. What power this is! It is the power that gives life, the power that makes love possible.

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