His church's Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) is up since his arrival in 2005, reversing several years of decline and going against the trend of decline in the Diocese and the Episcopal Church nationally.
Parish financial giving has rebounded dramatically on his watch.
Widely regarded as a decent and honest man - "what you see is what you get."
He's developed constructive ministry partnership between his city parish and Reservation Missions.
John came here from Massachusetts less than 5 years ago. He does not have family connections here in SD, and that is a two edged sword here. "Outsiders" are not easily trusted (this is true of the White small town culture, the Native emphasis on clan and the Episcopal Church's web of family ties in this small diocese) So his status might work against him with some. On the other hand, there is recognition that the diocese is in the grip of strong decline trends and a fresh perspective might be welcomed.
With the profile calling for improved communication in the diocese, it is a bit of a concern that his parish has no web site or on-line newsletter that I can find.
He's managed to maintain sincere, traditional faith while working closely and constructively with the national church, serving on several national Episcopal bodies (including Native American Ministries). This would be a plus for South Dakota, which relies on the national church for operating funds and must balance mid-American sensibilities with a very different national church leadership perspective.
He has a strong commitment to Reservation ministry, staying in that challenging field over the years with some good results, as evidenced at Standing Rock Mission's site.
He has served positively with Bishop Smith of ND, despite having backed a different candidate when Smith was elected.
Hard to find data on the impact of his ministry. As a Reservation missioner, statistics are elusive and he does not have a parish by which to measure ASA. North Dakota as a whole is a small and declining diocese. This creates concern about his ability to reverse the decline in South Dakota.
Leads a "program sized" parish, giving him experience with multiple staff and managing a variety of ministries.
Experience in supporting other congregations in rural areas of Colorado.
Born in Sioux Falls. Some here still remember his family and say that they were involved and effective in youth ministry, a pressing demand of the diocese today. Has sponsored youth mission trips to SD.
His parish (St. Luke's, Denver) suffered a terrible decline in ASA from 2002 (just over 300 people per Sunday) thru 2007 (down to around 180 per Sunday). With SD struggling to reverse membership and ASA decline, this creates a concern.
Long, stable term as Rector (Christ Church, Bethany, CT).
His parish is in the minority of Episcopal Churches which have not been declining - in fact, his church had modest growth over the last 10 years, despite steady decline in the rest of the Diocese of Connecticut.
He's organized mission trips to SD.
He ran unsuccessfully for Bishop of North Dakota in 2004. On the one hand, it suggests his interest in this region, on the other, people who run for bishop more than once in a short span of time raise red flags about calling and motivation.
There is a strange South Dakota connection for this candidate. His daughter, Kate, was put through the ordination process here in South Dakota. Late in the process (which did not sit well with some) it was revealed that she is a lesbian. Then, despite the desperate need for clergy here, she went back to the Northeast to serve. Like I say, "question marks." There are connections that are not being placed on the table, at least at this point. The diocesan profile calls for better communications between bishop and people, so perceptions of back-room dealing can be damaging.
The Diocese will be putting up more detailed information, including personal statements by the candidates, in the near future. This should fill in some of the blanks and answer some of the questions. The Diocesan web page is in my Useful Links to the right, and they have a Bishop Election tab on their homepage. Check in there from time to time.
Please keep us in your prayers as we approach the election on May 9th.