Sunday, January 12, 2014

Another Term?

Recently I received an interesting rumor regarding our Presiding Bishop's plan to run for a second term.  Bishop Jefferts Schori, having been ordained and employed for twenty years,certainly must find employment in the Episcopal Church for at least ten more years to receive her full pension. Another term as Presiding Bishop would certainly make a full term period very simple with no job search, disruption of her personal life or professional career trajectory. Such an eighteen year, two term,period would put her third in tenure to +Tuttle and +White in the succession of Presiding Bishops. 

I note this rumor because its origin was reliable, the idea of such a possibility historically significant and for its implications regarding the culture and politics of the House of Bishops, General Convention and the Church at large interesting. If Bishop Schori can get herself re-elected, she has managed to gain very substantial power over the years, and/or few other bishops may actually desire this "godly call."  In any case, if another nine years is gained by Bishop Schori, what might we expect? Reviewing the activities of her first administration, we can predict more law suits, gyrations of organizational reform and the normal administrative and visitation schedule continuing. In other words, while the numbers regarding Episcopalians and their financial commitments are projected to decline with greater rapidity, the Presiding Bishop will enjoy good pension funding, many interesting trips and sipping gimlets on the pent house balcony facing the East River where this redundant building holds up her apartment. . .

However, except for the name change of the actual occupant of the Office of Presiding Bishop occurring via the normal nomination/election processes of General Convention, what difference would it make? The future of the Episcopal Church is not much in the hands of the Presiding Bishop, General Convention or most the denial of most dioceses as demographic studies indicate all too well. Organizational culture inertia of the Episcopal Church and similar Christian denominations are pulling the institutions down. So as one wag reportedly stated on the deck of the Titantic, "Everyone, grab your drink and watch us hit that big iceberg!!"

Where is the hope here?  I hope I am wrong. So prove me so, please. 

12 comments:

  1. Perpetuation of power is the final cry of the fading ego. What else would drive a "Godly call" to such an extent especially at the peril of the payee congregant.? I'm reminded of Bishop Bennett Sims's call to servant leadership. That is my hope. Will it happen? I hope I'm right.

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  2. Poor article, and one wonders why you are attacking the Presiding Bishop of your church. The Presiding Bishop is elected from among those who are Bishops who were elected from the priests of this church who were all once lay people who discerned with the community their call to ordained ministry. You boil her motive down to the need for a full pension, instead of a call to the ministry she might serve. To be elected one must be a bishop who is under the age of 63 in 2015 (mandatory retirement at 72). So if she qualifies she can be nominated by the committee that has bishops, priests, deacons and lay people as members. If they discern and offer her as a qualified candidate then it is an election in the House of Bishops and a confirmation by the Deputies, so her continued service would be the result of some 150+ people choosing her and some 2000 affirming that call. While you choose to focus $ and attribute personal motivation you know nothing about, you miss the important role of discernment by the Church.

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  3. Dear Anonymous: Who ever you might be. . .:

    You miss the point. This is not an attack against the PB. It was more a point of reporting a rumor. I considered it to be more of an inquiry than a statement. It is somewhat of a matter of public interest.

    Relax. I would be quite surprised if the PB would seek another 9 years of service when the norm would be to serve and then pass the seat to another. I think more of her than that.

    Blessings to you,

    +Bob Shahan (Bishop of Arizona - Retired)

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  4. Dear Anonymous: Who ever you might be. . .:

    You miss the point. This is not an attack against the PB. It was more a point of reporting a rumor. I considered it to be more of an inquiry than a statement. It is somewhat of a matter of public interest.

    Relax. I would be quite surprised if the PB would seek another 9 years of service when the norm would be to serve and then pass the seat to another. I think more of her than that.

    Blessings to you,

    +Bob Shahan (Bishop of Arizona - Retired)

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  5. Bob-
    The article mislays her ministry as one of securing a pension, suggest denial of the situation in the church, attributes motive as one of power grabbing, and is snarky at best. It is hardly inquisitive of the situation. Just poor all around and shameful writing by an ordained leader who once served this church.

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  6. Um, you article sounds more like an attack than an inquiry. Seriously: you seem to imply that if we have a new PB the decline of our church will be halted. Humbug! Our decline is a direct result of the unChristian actions of a few Bishops who have since left to be more important fish in smaller ponds our PB is to be commended for not allowing them to take the family trust with them.

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  7. I think that the article was spot on.

    Furthermore, I think that the Episcopal Church really needs to take a look at how it represents all Episcopalians at the national level, not just an elitist progressive minority in the Church. Don't get me wrong, I'm generally very supportive of the steps taken to include gays and lesbians, but I think more could have been done to encourage those who left to stay. I think that both sides have their hands stained at the end of the day.

    Rev. Thomas Jackson-

    What has been accomplished by the lawsuits? So far, millions upon millions of dollars have been wasted to "win" back empty parishes that are massively inefficient on utilities. I don't think that any of the Bishops should have left and I think the Episcopal Church is worse off when one group dominates the Church, however, there has to be a better way than litigation and lawsuits. I may be wrong, but I think the PB is glad to have less "traditionalists" in the Church, no matter the costs. I just hope and pray that whoever takes over is much more moderate in their tempermant and in their politics. If we want a Church were we can't question Bishops and leaders, Rome will be waiting. No Bishop is above criticism.

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  8. If she stays, I go. I have felt for some time that the church is happy to take my offerings but really doesn't want to hear my conservative views. Rome is waiting, as is the Orthodox church, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, and the Anglican church. Lots of choices.

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