Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
At the close of our 232nd Diocesan Convention in January, Bishop Wright called forward the members of the Standing Committee. As a visible sign that he is REALLY retiring and leaving us, he handed the antique diocesan gavel to us. I suspect many did not see the next thing that happened which was I took a deep GULP and said to myself, ‘Oh Lord, here we go!”
In the days since this time, and now we have journeyed to the last day of Bishop Wright being with us on February 28, I have been praying much about what we have done, what more we have to do, who will be doing what and by when, and so on. It was in the midst of one of my frequent uncertain spirit moments that I was gifted to remember the 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. In particular, it was Tradition Two which brought rest to my soul. Tradition Two states …
“For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.”
Many are familiar with the 12 Steps of AA, but not as much with the 12 Traditions. Simply defined, the 12 Steps show the way a person lives into a life of recovery from addiction, while the 12 Traditions show the way the fellowship & AA community lives into a life of recovery together. The rest for this soul that speaks to our time going forward is found in the word together.
Together we have taken many significant strides since Bishop Wright’s announcing his retirement in 2016:
- The Search and Transition Committees were prayerfully called, organized, and charged with the work before us together at the organizing retreat in July 2016. Since this time, the Search Committee provided a detailed online survey, held town meeting conversations throughout the state, and produced a quality online profile that went “live” in December to gather potential candidates for consideration. As of January 20, they now enter the “quiet phase” of their work through the applications of over 50 people. The Committee will discern their movement forward with the candidates from what we have said is important for our 11th Bishop to serve with us in our diocese.
- The Transition Committee organized and hosted gratitude gatherings in our three counties for thanking Bishop and Holly Wright for their nineteen years amongst us, serving with us,
- We have discerned and contracted the support of Visiting Bishops during this in-between time. We welcome retired Bishop James “Bud” Shand, former diocesan of Easton, as our principal visiting bishop March through early June and September up to the consecration in December. During summer months when Bishop Shand is vacationing in Canada, we are grateful for continued coverage by retired Bishop Robert Ihloff, former diocesan of Maryland. They will be available, as needed, to support the diocese in matters where a bishop serves, such as our Regional Confirmations on June 4, the Day of Pentecost, and November 5, the Sunday after All Saints. Save these dates, more details will be forthcoming in future NET articles.
- In agreement with Bishop Wright, the Standing Committee, and the visiting bishops, Bishop Wright appointed the Reverend Ed Godden and the Reverend Carl Kunz as chaplains in care and presence to our retired clergy and families. They will be in frequent contact with them, and coordinate with the Standing Committee and the visiting bishops when pastoral care needs arise.
I am reminded that if I want to make God laugh, share my plans! There will be those events and moments we did not or cannot anticipate. Mindful of Tradition 2, we will navigate those times and issues together. We have the story from the Gospel of Mark [9:14-29] of Jesus coming down from the moment of the Transfiguration only to find the disciples flailing away trying to cure the demon-possessed boy. After Jesus rebukes the crowd, and then the demons from the boy, he reminds the disciples that the work of ministry is first, last, and always bound in prayer, together. It is with this guiding Spirit of God’s love in our Lord Jesus Christ that we will navigate all that is, and all that will becoming, together.
I look forward to the day when the prayerfully discerned candidates are nominated by the Search Committee, meeting the candidates during the last week of June around the state, our Special Convention on July 15, the day of consecration on December 9th, and at our 233rd Diocesan Convention, when we will welcome our 11th bishop to the Diocese of Delaware. We will welcome our new bishop as the people of God we are called to be, a people bearing forward the light of the Jesus Movement, which they will share with us in ministry, together!
Gratefully, your trusted servants in Christ,
The Standing Committee
The Reverend Mary Allen Mr. Bruce Vrana
The Reverend Max Wolf Mr. Jon Rania
The Reverend Paul W. Gennett, Jr. Mrs. Teri Quinn Gray
The Reverend Sarah Nelson Mrs. Sue Taber