Sunday, April 27, 2008

South Dakota asking ten questions about potential candidates for Bishop

You can read more about the search and selection process in the Diocesan newsletter, here (click on "Latest Issue" - it's PDF).

On page 5, you can find a discussion of "Ten Things Christians Should Ask When They Choose a Leader." This is a presentation of Canon David Seger to the Nominating Committee. I will list the questions, with my comments in italics.

1. Is the person not only able to lead, but lead in difficult times? A great question, if actually asked and investigated. How did someone like +Katharine Jefferts Schori, with no significant leadership record, become Presiding Bishop? It is interesting that nobody from Good Shepherd, the most dramatically growing congregation in the diocese, was appointed to take part in the nominating process. You would think that a church bucking the downward trend of the diocese would have something to offer to this analysis, but go figure...

2. Does the person understand what is going on in the culture, where it is leading us, and its imprint on the churches? Good missionaries, like the Apostle Paul, always pay attention to culture. If you read something like Timothy Keller's "The Reason for God", you can see this in action in our own day. But that phrase about "where the culture is leading us" troubles me - as The Age to Come says under the blog title: "Those who marry the spirit of this age will find themselves widows in the next."

3. Does the person understand theology? OK, what the heck does that mean? Every person has a theology (some working assumption about God or an ultimate value that guides their life.) The question should be, "Does this person understand the theology of the Holy Bible, as reflected in the Book of Common Prayer?" I fear that this question will be used to say, "No candidate who has not received the secret illumination of the new thing of the spirit like us need apply."

4. Does the person have a vision for the future? Well, the Diocese of South Dakota does not care. From the diocesan website: "We seek to call as our next Bishop a visionary who will help the clergy and people of our diocese to bring to fruition the Kingdom vision which God has already planted in our hearts and minds." The inner circle already has a "vision" of some sort (supplied from New York, no doubt), and the new Bishop is to shill for it.

5. Is the person "slick"? (this is not desirable). My worry is that this kind of subjective language will be used to screen out the very candidates sought in question #1. If a person like Canon Neal Michell showed up loaded with practical experience in church leadership, diocesan support of congregations, and theory and practice of church development, might he be written off as "slick"? This question can ensure a slate of bloodless, mediocre candidates.

6. Does the person have some managerial and administrative skills? Good question - but must be asked in conjunction with #1. The diocese is struggling (some might be so blunt as to say "dying") - a manager who is not a leader is not adequate to the need here.

7. Does the person have staying power? Good practical question. South Dakota is "flyover country", and does not need a "bishop" who wants to pump up a resume and then go off to run a seminary or sit in the New York bureaucracy.

8. Is the person prayerful and a student of scripture? Sigghhh. If only they meant it. In today's church, somebody who channels spirits and reads Bishop Spong meets these criteria.

9. Does the person have inner humility? Like +Gene Robinson? Like +John Spong? Like this guy ?

10. Is the person able to listen to and take good advice and wise counsel from godly clergy and laity? +Katharine Jefferts Shori's visit to South Carolina, anyone?

My suspicion is that we are going to get a slate of the usual folks who dance around the mitre tree, courtesy of the managment at 815 Second Ave., New York, NY.


peter said...

Yes, seems like more of the same old, same old. Truly a church married to the spirit of the age.

Anonymous said...

There's only one question that matters - and it's not on that list of 10 (funnily enough).

0. Is the bishop committed to leading the diocese out of ECUSA?

Any candidate who answers "yes" to this question will be automatically disqualified by the nominating committee.

Any candidate who answers "no" to this quetsion has ben automaticallly disqualififed by Christ the Lord of the Church.

David Handy+ said...

Very apt and astute commentary on the ten questions, Fr. Tim. You yourself alluded to Canon Neil Mitchell of Dallas, and you earlier called attention on another thread to the recent election of a Suffragan Bishop in Dallas. I couldn't help comparing the VERY different sets of questions asked by the two dioceses, SD and Dallas.

In short, it's not what they do ask, it's what they DON'T ask, that is particulaly revealing in this list of ten questions.

I'm afraid it's a forgone conclusion that SD will get a bad bishop. But miracles of conversion and transformation have bappened before. My prayers will be that God will sovereignly guide the process so that a person who is the best potential convert to the orthodox cause will be elected. And that could be someone very liberal at this point. After all, the Lord chose to take the arch persecutor of the early church (Saul of Tarsus) and make him the greatest missionary of all time (St. Paul).

Anonymous said...

It is my most sincere hope that all those who wish to be Anglo/Caths pack up and leave.
The ECUSA does not want nor need them.
These A/C's have no desire to be inclusive only restrictive.
They don't like women running the church! They don't like women preists! They don't like Bhp.Spong one of the greatest American bishop of all time.
I would suggest all these stuffy A/C's leave as quickly as possible and don't let the door hit them in the ass as they leave.
Women are here not only to be bishops, priest and even presiding bishops but even to become PRESIDENT!

Greg said...


Actually, many of us who are unhappy with the current direction of TEC and the Diocese of SD would describe our beliefs as evangelical, reformed, or orthodox. We do share our A/C bretheren's desire for TEC to return to a Biblical world view. That is one in which the we believe and proclaim "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." It has little to do with women priests, or even bishops, for most of us; it has to do with following Jesus as The Way, not "a way". It is not us who are leaving, it is TEC that is walking away.