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  Spring 2007 Clergy Conference
April 21 - Airport Plaza, Reno

Prayerful Discernment in the Selection of a Bishop

The Rev. Julius Rogina

The Morning session consisted of Julius Rogina’s presentation

DISCERNMENT: THE ART OF CHOOSING WELL

He based the presentation on the Baptismal covenant from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (p.304)which is consonant with our vision statement:

God is calling the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada to transform its communities through the vitality of its worship and living out its baptismal vows.

  Julius brought Enneagram personality analysis into the understanding of how different personality strengths from members throughout the diocese contribute to “choosing well.” Hence, the importance for everyone to prayerfully think about the questions they want to have the candidates answer on the walk-abouts.

Afternoon session was led by Suzanne Foucault, National consultant to Bishop Search processes who is working with our Diocese. After introductions, she detailed:

Suzanne FoucaultCHANGES SINCE LAST TIME A BISHOP WAS ELECTED - Suzanne

1. Approval by person being nominated (The “App/Nom” form requires a confirmation signature from the person being nominated which reduced the # of Candidates before Search Committees begain making calls.

2. Petition Process replaced Nominations from the Floor (This was in effect when Katharine was elected) which allows time for the Oxford Background Checks. (11 questions related to “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll.”)

Standing Committee will establish the process details. Candidates must answer all the same Essay questions, collect a number of petition sigantures, file the CDO profile, the Resume and personal references, exactly the same as Applicants. Suzanne cited some examples of reasons that people might choose to enter through the Petition Process rather than Application/Nomination, which usually involve unusual life circumstances. They should be considered as completely equal to those who become candidates through the Application/Nomination Process.

3. Communication Technology has had a significant effect. At least half of every application is submitted electronically, and moving toward 100%. Also the Search Committee's communication with candidates on status of apps via eMail which is instant.

4. Episcopal Church issues:
Standing Committees consents to election: 2006 Resolution B033 advises exercise of restraint with regard to the candidate’s “manner of life”. This in effect until next General Convention in 2009.



9 Round tables that self-sorted at the beginning of the meeting were each given an afternoon task of providing the Search Committee with several aspects of the clergy role in the Search Process. Reports follow:

1. WHAT DOES THE CLERGY NEED IN THE NEW BISHOP?

• Need to find a pastoral person
• Assure that we are represented fairly to the candidates
• Be assured that the Committee is being fair-minded in terms of political and theological viewpoints toward candidates.
• Be assured that the Committee is not making choices for us.
• Have a smooth election process (Transition Committee’s responsibility)
• That the selection process is moving along, but not so fast that we miss the role of the Holy Spirit in the proceedings
• Be certain that candidates are aware of the geographic challenge of the Diocese so that they will be equally available to those in rural areas.
• Transparency in the process
• That the candidates have had healthy relationships with their staffs and with their personal families.
• That candidates have a deep personal grounding and spiritual life.
• That the walkabout meetings with candidates are accessible to all.

2. WHAT DO THE CLERGY FEEL THE LAITY NEED IN THEIR NEW BISHOP?

• Information: fact sheets, detailing of the election process, duties of the committees, schedules for the process and the output of the Committees be available. (The person reporting confessed that they had not consulted the website recently)
• Contiinuing opportunity for the laity to comment on the process.
• Description and information on the candidates in prep for the walk-abouts. (There is no description available now as to what this process is all about.)

3. WHAT IS THE CLERGY ROLE IN THE SEARCH PROCESS?

• Support the process: That is, insure that all parish members feel a part of what is happening.
• Keep the congregation informed. Be communicative
• Pass our the information
• Keep prayers for the process in the congregational worship, therefore insuring that all parish members are participating in the process
• Watch boundries: Don’t undercut the process. (If you or others have complaints, make them directly to the Search or Transition committees. One method is using the Search eMail <NvBishopSearch@gmail.com>)
• When we are close to the election, do not use clerical authority to influence the electors.
• Support not knowing who the candidates are until they are announced.
• Support the need for confidentiality to protect those who are eliminated.
• Clarify the process to one another.

4. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES AHEAD IN THE PROCESS?

• Squash rumors: Unfounded rumors are not helpful to anyone. (You may ask the Search Committee directly or  Bob Nelson at the diocesan office is the official "rumor control center" : (702) 737 9190).
• Bring candidates up to speed on the facts to cope with the vastness in economic and geographic diversity
• Know the background and be able to cope with the vastness in economic and geographic diversity
• Sensitivity to the divisions between North/South/Rural
• Vastness of our state.
• Bishop needs to be visible to the larger community: Be open and reach out beyond our Church.
• Bishop needs to balance time
• We need to trust the Committees and their work.
• Keep the profile in mind (It was forgotten in the process last time)
• Care of the nominees during the process. Attention their needs.
• Emphasize spiritual discernment - Keep the Holy Spirit in the process.
• Be sure the Petition candidates are not treated as second class citizens.

Q. It was asked what the Walkabout process is like for the Nominees. (Last time, they visited one at a time. This time it is to be all together for a week).
Answer: Suzanne said, from her experience with other Dioceses, that is a very collegial feeling. They tend to bond to one another and help one another out. After all, they are not competitors, but also discerning who is right for this place at this time. They tend to develop a spiritual life and discipline together during the week.

Q: Are spouses to be included?
A: Not yet decided.

5. HOW SHOULD CONGREGATIONS AND ELECTORS (+ Alternates) PREPARE FOR THIS ELECTION OF OUR NEW BISHOP?

• Consistent communication with and among one another based on direct experience reading presentations and participating in walk-about discussions
• Assure that Transparency and confidentiality is being communicated
• Include the Process in the prayers, whenever the congregation meets for worship.
• Congregations and electors/alternates should have had their role explained during the parish annual meeting
• Facilitate the congregational communication with & feedback to electors/ alternates as to the basic desires for the new Bishop
• Congregation needs to know the role of a Bishop in the Church -- local, National and International
• Prayers for everyone.
• Be sure Alternates are as well prepared to vote as electors, should they need to do so.
• Electors MUST be there all day on Friday during the Convention.
• Electors are expected to be at the walkabouts -- at LEAST one of the stops.
• Electors/Alternates’ research should begin immediately when the names are announced.(Let the Electors/alternates know of relevant websites.)
• Electors not bound by what the person in the last pew thinks. They are not representing a group within the congregation, but voting their conscience.

One priest commented that he was much more confident in the Process after this day of discussion.

Another priest reminded the gathering that he wants to see a Bishop who will personally go into the prisons and support the prison ministry.

 

7. A REFLECTION ON THE LEADERSHIP QUALITIES OF AMBROSE (Bishop of Milan, 397) and PHILLIPS BROOKS (Bishop of Massachusetts, 1893). Those qualities included

• Ambrose and Brooks were God-centered and not self-centered, a model for us in the election process.
• Excellent communication skills in preaching, teaching, writing
• Effectively speaking truth to Power. (Ambrose)
• Skillful hymnodist - gets people singing together
• Able to be inclusive of conservative and liberal persons in both theology and politics.
• Personal warmth and presence
• Sense of the sacred Mystery of life. (Brooks)
• Understanding of Lambeth Quadralateral: Holy Scripture, Historic Creeds, , Sacraments, and Historic Episcopate

Candi Jones (Search chair), Pam Radke (Transition chair) and Jon Davidson (Jt. Communication Subcommittee chair) each responded to the input from clergy with assurances that the input was heard, and with information on contacting committee members during the process.

Jon urged those congregations who have not done so to distribute Profile Website cards to every member of their congregation because the Profile is a document which celebrates the mission and ministry of all of us, and communicates the excitement about the incredible amount of work that we are able to do working together. The same printed color copies of the Profile Website were distributed to all clergy present that had previously been sent to all parish offices in the Diocese.
Jon also suggested that the clergy make a habit to visit the Diocesan Website at LEAST once a week: Bookmark the WHAT’S NEW page and check it regularly as the page changes constantly, provides resources for clergy and parish leaders, and is a direct link to EPISCOPAL LIFE ONLINE and EpiSCOPE which are our new Episcopal news sources with headlines which are updated daily.

He also announced that the Diocesan Website now has a team of 6 people working on keeping it updated, with editorial leadership from Hallie Murphy, editor of Desert Spirit. He asked those present to check the current list of parish communication contacts to be sure the Diocese has correct persons in each parish for Newsletter, Sunday Bulletin, Website and eMail distribution. (That information can be sent by those not in attendance to <b.lewis@nvdiocese.org>)

Members of the Standing Committee present were introduced, and they spoke about the Search Process.

Contact eMail for Search & Transition committees is <NewBishop4Nv@gmail.com>
The mailbox is checked at least daily, and response is guaranteed within 3 business days.