The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, who has served the Diocese of San Diego as its assisting bishop since August 2017, writes about the diocese’s decision to present one nominee for election as its fifth bishop:
Let me say that there is precedent in The Episcopal Church for aspects of this process. When I was in the election process in the Diocese of Nevada in 2000, that Standing Committee received several petition candidates, and said openly that they would not consent if a particular one were elected. The individual concerned had not been part of the Search Committee’s discernment, but had exhibited behaviors historically that the Standing Committee considered disqualifying.
There has also been a recent election in which a single candidate was offered for consideration. Some years ago, the Diocese of South Carolina elected a person who did not receive consents from the wider church because of concerns about the bishop-elect’s intentions to remain in The Episcopal Church. The Diocese continued its process, and again elected that person, who eventually did receive consent from the wider church.
This is a lengthy process, with multiple steps that include careful discernment by different groups in and beyond the diocese. It may be frustrating, surprising, or annoying when the steps produce unexpected results. That is often God calling us to growth, new insights, repentance, or greater care in our actions. I am confident that the Holy Spirit will continue to lead us into God’s new future, if we are faithful. I encourage you to pray for each person involved in this process, to assume and expect that God will show us the way and help us discover the gifts of every individual who will be considered for election. Each and every person involved in this process has abundant God-given gifts. Several may have the gifts needed to serve as bishop in this season of the Diocese of San Diego’s life. Your job is to discern who that might be.
Lawrence was elected from a slate of three nominees (including the Rev. Ellis Brust and the Rev. Steve Wood) in September 2006. The diocese re-elected him as a sole candidate after a majority of bishops and standing committees declined their consent. Lawrence was approved after his re-election.
Wood later became a bishop in the Anglican Church in North America. The ACNA’s House of Bishops eventually welcomed Lawrence as well.
One other one-nominee slate involved the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester, who was elected Bishop of Northern Michigan in 2009. A majority of bishops and standing committees declined consent to his election.