To borrow (and paraphrase) from Paul’s Letter to the Romans,
To all God’s beloved in the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
First, thank you so much for your continued prayers as our Diocese fulfills God’s will and purpose in the selection of the 12th Bishop of Springfield. Your prayers continue to strengthen us as we fulfill our task to discern His purpose in the installation of our next Bishop. Our goal is to get the selection of our 12th Bishop “right,” not just get it “done.” We are in no hurry to “rush to failure.” As a result, we are intentionally allowing more time to ensure we have a chance to fully listen to all in the diocese who wish to have input into this process; fully develop a diocesan profile so that not only do prospective candidates know who “we are,” but that we can better discern who “they are” through their interest; and, ensure the Nominating and Electing Synods have the information they need to prayerfully discern the best candidates, and ultimately, the installation of our final candidate as our 12th Bishop.
Second, we want you to know that the Springfield Diocesan Election Committee met via Zoom on October 17th and had a very productive first meeting. Our meeting included the Diocesan Standing Committee to ensure we are synchronized in our approach and efforts. This meeting also included Fr. Ron Clingenpeel, our consultant and liaison through the Office of Pastoral Development with The Episcopal Church. Fr. Ron stated in the meeting that, “What we do in the bishop selection process in the Diocese of Springfield is different than any other diocese.” As a result, the Office of Pastoral Development wants to learn from us and provide the opportunity for other Episcopal Church dioceses to utilize our model in their bishop search process.
Just a quick review of our process . . . the Election Committee conducts key and important parts of the search process but does not select our next Bishop. We will listen to you in our diocese, receiving feedback through a wide variety of communication mediums. The Listening Committee has committed to presenting a draft timeline and listening approaches to fulfill its purpose at our next meeting on the 5th of December.
We will develop our Diocesan Profile and make it available to all potential candidates based on your input through our listening phase. We will screen candidates’ applications (with the appropriate completed background and reference checks) and make all applicable materials publicly available for review. The Nominating Synod will then prayerfully discern and select from the initial slate of candidates and elect the final nominees who will move forward in the process. Those who vote in the Nominating and Electing Synods are eligible clergy, and those lay delegates elected at your Annual Meeting serve as lay delegates to all synods held during the year.
After the Nominating Synod presents the final candidates to the Election Committee, we will conduct “walk-abouts” throughout the Diocese with these candidates. How this will be done is still uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we assure you that everyone will have the opportunity to engage with and provide input about who they discern should be our 12th Bishop. As mentioned in the Michaelmas issue of the Springfield Current, the Electing Synod will select the final candidate for consecration. Typically, five to six months are required between the Electing Synod electing our 12th Bishop and the consecration.
To ensure that everyone has access to all that is happening during the discernment and selection of our 12th Bishop, we encourage you to continue to read the Springfield Current. The next edition will reach mailboxes in Epiphany. We also encourage you to read the Diocesan email newsletter (emailed by the Diocese). Additionally, you can stay up to date through the Bishop Search pages on the Diocesan website; Facebook; Twitter; and, Instagram.
We truly value your prayerful input. Please let us know if you are receiving exactly the information you need or whether the information provided is too much or too little.
The Election Committee under the auspices of the Standing Committee looks forward to prayerfully conscientiously, and intentionally completing the work with which we have been entrusted. Please continue to pray for us!
May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace in believing through the power of the Holy Spirit
– Romans 15:13.
Mtr Sherry Black
Chair, Election Committee
Co-Chair, Election Committee
Mtr Beth Maynard
President, Standing Committee