Now that it is possible to restart the search for the 12th Bishop of Springfield, we’re happy to report that the majority of those who agreed to serve on the Election Committee back in January are still on board and ready to get to work. We have already met both with our consultant Fr. Ron Clingenpeel and with the Standing Committee as a whole to discuss the most safe, efficient, and beneficial ways forward. At press time for the Current, we were working on setting a meeting time for the entire Election Committee.
The first steps ahead of us will be a phase of listening and discernment, inviting those at all levels of our diocese to think over their past experiences of the episcopate and to identify what kinds of gifts they see as most needed in the Bishop God will call here for the next season of our life. Simultaneously, since it is impossible to know how soon we will be able to gather in large groups, we have been gathering and reviewing information from the Office of Pastoral Development and from dioceses currently in the election process about virtual options for all stages of the process, in case those are needed. We attended the Zoom electing convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon, which can be viewed on YouTube if you are curious.
In addition, the President of our Standing Committee has arranged a conference with the President of Oregon’s Standing Committee to learn from their experience. Our own virtual Synod in October will also provide important data. The ideal, of course, is to do as much of this work in person as public health requirements permit, but a great deal is still possible provided we can be creative.
Once a profile of our diocese is produced and we are ready to receive names, the model of searching for and electing a Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield requires an initial nomination period followed by a nominating Synod that produces the slate; after a time for us to get to know those final candidates, a second Synod elects the next Bishop. Typically, 5-6 months are required between that election and the consecration.
Watch for fuller information from the Election Committee as our work gets underway in earnest! In the meantime, we ask your prayers for each of us and for our diocese.
Mother Sherry Black, Chair, Election Committee
Rod Matthews, Co-Chair, Election Committee
Mother Beth Maynard, President, Standing Committee