by the Rev. Mary Allen
I must confess, when Bishop Wright announced he was retiring I thought “Oh Lord, not again!” You see, this is the fifth bishop transition I’ve been through in my ministry, in addition to a couple more as a preacher’s kid. On the Standing Committee, I’m seen as the pro. A title I would gladly relinquish.
That being said I must also confess that I anxiously await the Special Convention because I find it to be one of our most sacred times. It is a time for us as the church to listen and discern the Holy Spirit at work in our midst. While some see it as a political event (it is an election after all) we instead could enter into the Special Convention mindful of the history, the process, and the prayers. The history takes us back to the apostles, those who were chosen by Christ to build and guard the church. Each time a bishop is chosen and consecrated in the church they carry on that work of the Apostles, not just for their Diocese, but for the whole Church. The opening Presentation in the Ordination of a Bishop says it best:
N., Bishop in the Church of God, the clergy and people of
the Diocese of N., trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
have chosen N.N. to be a bishop and chief pastor. We therefore
ask you to lay your hands upon him and in the power of the
Holy Spirit to consecrate him a bishop in the one, holy,
catholic, and apostolic Church. (BCP. Page 513)
The process is also one of discernment. From our work in the Standing Committee of choosing the Search and Transition Committees, to the charge, or duties of each. The committees then carry out their duties in prayer and faithfulness. That discernment is continued throughout the process by all involved, including the delegates & clergy of the diocese when we gather on July 15th.
And of course, the prayers! We on the Standing Committee called a chaplain for the process in addition to the committees. A prayer was written for our use during this time and I know each of our committees, Standing, Search and Transition, have begun our meetings in prayer.
So, from this “pro” I invite you to pray, listen and discern now and through the rest of this holy time. The Holy Spirit is moving!
by the Rev. Sarah Nelson
Change is great, healthy, and life giving. Well, as long as it doesn’t upset my way of doing things. The church, my church, is one of the places that I can go for comfort, for respite, for peace. When these precepts intersect, well – that is when life gets interesting! Over this past year our Diocese, our church, has embraced this time of transition and change. Indeed the church and change have met head on! We know all of the jokes about the church and change like - ”How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb? Three, one to call the electrician, one to change the bulb and one to say how much they liked the old one better.” That being said, The Diocese of Delaware has met the challenge head on and moved with purpose and direction toward the election of our new diocesan bishop. As Chaplain to this holy process I have been honored to prayerfully observe and play a minor role in this important decision.
As human beings, it seems innate to define and protect where we stop and start. Those of you who know me know of my very territorial and possessive Puliks. These beloved pups, as herding dogs, feel a great deal of responsibility to draw a clear boundary around what is theirs and what is others. They vocally and physically protect and defend their space. These are good and noble traits, and yet, their defense of territory impedes their ability to be with others of their kind. What I have been impressed with as the Holy Spirit works among us is the grace with which members of the search committee, the members of the transition committee, the Bishop’s staff have each, to a person put the sacred work of choosing our next Bishop, as their primary focus. Personalities, passion, persistence, yes but all to the singular mutual purpose. The story of Pentecost of course comes to mind. Though many, each seeks understanding and to build up one another. Observing such work I am given such hope for our church.
Over the past months reading vitas and essays of many gifted candidates I have been struck with the quality and diversity of those called to leadership in our church. I must admit though, in reading the plethora of materials I was able to gather my thoughts and make initial preferences about candidates that I felt best matched the profile qualifications. Amazing what clarity results from knowing people in but two dimensions! This process became so very complex though when I met the candidates and was able to spend time and get to know these gifted and capable individuals. I believe that I joked one evening, “I believe that we need to elect several Bishops” for each person was amazing and talented and exhibited extraordinary gifts that I could see flourishing in our Diocese. “Now I see in a mirror dimly….”
In the next weeks everyone throughout our Diocese will be afforded the opportunity to meet these five remarkable individuals. Kevin, Laura, Michael, Patty and Scott are astounding individuals. Each bring unique and distinct talents for ministry. Each have the power and ability to lead The Diocese of Delaware into a bright and bold future. I have been humbled and honored to watch the sacred work of the Holy Spirit at work among us. I have such hope and faith in our church, yes amidst change, but confident in our loving and gracious God to lead us towards the fulfillment of God’s kingdom present among us.