Sam Ward, president of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania’s standing committee, addresses concerns that pre-election “workshops planned to prepare delegates to vote at the convention will be occasions to promote a particular candidate and could somehow lead to a contested or invalid election”:
We believe that there may be several programs planned at the parish level to prepare for the election. We are aware of two that are specifically for spiritual formation and training of lay and clergy delegates. One is at St. Andrew’s in State College on March 7, and is part of their normal practice of requiring spiritual formation of any staff or laity upon their appointment to lay leadership roles. Because of interest from other clergy, they are making the program available to all delegates. The second at St. John’s in Lancaster on February 28 has similarly been opened to neighboring parishes.
The programs are focused on the people electing the next bishop and on the diocese, and not on the candidates. The purpose of the program is to provide the delegates with resources on how to discern and how to develop self-awareness in decision-making. It will use Bible study, the ordination rite in the Book of Common Prayer, the profile, and discussion of choosing a leader from the book, The Rule of St. Benedict: Spirituality for the 21st Century. There is to be no discussion or comparison of the candidates, no evaluation of how each candidate fits the criteria developed from the diocesan profile, no discussion around attributes needed in our next bishop, and no discussion of how the delegates might vote.