The Bishop of West Missouri has announced his intention to retire in September 2021, and the Standing Committee has said a canonical mediation process was a partial success.
During his address to the diocese’s 129th annual convention, the Rt. Rev. Martin Field explained the thinking behind his announcement: “In recent years the wisdom of planning farther ahead for episcopal transitions than used to be previously the norm has become apparent. Doing so allows, I believe, for a much more orderly transition in leadership. Doing so relieves the pressure and perception of need for haste and knee-jerk activities. It’s proving to be a healthier way for transitions to take place. Therefore I am announcing my intention to resign as bishop on or about my 65th birthday in 2021.”
The Rev. Jonathan Frazier, president of the Standing Committee, addressed the convention and released a statement about Title III mediation efforts between the diocese and Bishop Field under Title III of the church’s canons (“Reconciliation of Disagreements Affecting the Pastoral Relation between a Bishop and Diocese,” III.12.10).
The Standing Committee considered the mediation efforts a partial success, the statement said, and added:
While the options were being discussed, Bishop Field announced his intention to resign on his 65th birthday and invited direct feedback from the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council as a means of continuing the process of reconciliation. Given the Bishop’s plans and his sincere desire for continued direct feedback, the Committee believes that it will not be necessary to continue to pursue the canonical mediation process.
The formal canonical process of feedback under III.12.10 will end. In its place, at the Bishop’s request, the Diocese will implement a “360° review” process of the type that is commonly used for executives in the business world, which will be staffed and managed by members of the Standing Committee and the Executive Committee of the Diocesan Council. The Committee will still welcome any feedback a member of the diocese wants to give, but we emphasize that Bishop Field has asked for direct feedback.