The Diocese of Lexington’s standing committee reports on its decision to choose a provisional bishop for the new few years:
On October 11, 2017, the Standing Committee met with the Right Reverend Todd Ousley from the Episcopal Church’s Office of Pastoral Development. The Office of Pastoral Development and Bishop Ousley directly support the ministry of Bishops throughout the Church in a variety of ways, including Episcopal elections.
Our meeting had three desired outcomes. They included debriefing our experience with the Presiding Bishop’s Office and the Office of Pastoral Development concerning the events concluding with the dissolution of the pastoral relationship between the Diocese and Bishop Doug Hahn. Further, we reflected on the important ministry fulfilled by Bishop Bruce Caldwell. Finally, we discerned the next steps to follow Bishop Caldwell’s leave taking at the end of December. Together with Bishop Caldwell, Chancellor Mary T. Yeiser, and Canon Elise Johnstone, our conversation was open-minded, open-hearted, and beneficial.
As a result, Bishop Ousley presented us with three possible directions for our next Bishop’s search. They are as follows:
Option A: Proceeding with a traditional Bishop’s search process and election. This includes electing another Bishop Provisional who would serve 18-24 months while we search for the 8th Bishop of Lexington.
Option B: Electing a Bishop Provisional to serve five to eight years.
Option C: Electing a Bishop Provisional to serve two to three years with the intent of creating a process that may lead to her or his election as our Bishop Diocesan.
Bishop Ousley also met with The Episcopal Election Planning Committee, a collaborative effort between the Standing Committee and Executive Council. The members of this committee include: The Reverend Amy Dafler Meaux, The Reverend Paula Ott, Ms. Carolyn Witt-Jones, Ms. Allison Duvall (Vice President of Executive Council), Dr. Anthony Haigh, Ms. Lisa Johnson, The Reverend Margaret Shanks, and The Reverend Judy Yunker. Bishop Ousley presented the same options to the members present from the Executive Council.
The Standing Committee and the Episcopal Planning Committee agreed that Option C is best for the Diocese of Lexington. Option C gives the Diocese the benefit of electing an experienced Bishop, with eight or ten years of potential service, thereby eliminating the two-to-three year learning process incurred when someone transitions from the priesthood to the episcopacy. Further, Option C should lead us to a Bishop who can be immediately focused and aware of the Diocese of Lexington’s particularities including the needed work of healing and reconciliation, addressing systemic patterns that often require our time and drain our energy, and mutually discerning our discipleship and ministry as Christians. Option C honors the limited resources of this Diocese and models more faithful financial stewardship as it avoids paying well over $100,000 of anticipated costs in an episcopal search process. For these reasons, the Standing Committee adopted a resolution to pursue Option C.
Now with discerned clarity, the Episcopal Election Planning Committee earnestly begins its work. Their task is to develop a Diocesan mini-profile, to create a timeline that includes assessment and evaluative markers, to employ consistent and transparent communication methodology, to develop an interview protocol, and to propose budget modifications.
The election of the Bishop Provisional candidate will be on the agenda for the next Diocesan Convention on February 24, 2018. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any member of the Standing Committee.
Most of all, we hope you will join us as we pray for our Diocese:
Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a bishop for this Diocese, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Prayer for the election of a Bishop or other minister, BCP, p. 818)