By Kirk Petersen
The Diocese of Milwaukee has announced that an old friend and neighbor to the immediate south will serve as provisional bishop beginning April 1, 2021.
The Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, who will retire as Bishop of Chicago at the end of December 2020, will work half time as provisional bishop for a two-year term in Milwaukee, one of the dioceses where he served as a rector before being elected bishop.
“More than twenty years since our time at St. Christopher’s, River Hills, Lisa and I still remember fondly the warm friendships and vital ministry we experienced in Wisconsin,” said Bishop Lee.
The XI Bishop of Milwaukee, the Rt. Rev. Steven A. Miller, announced last year his intention to retire at the end of 2020. The Standing Committee began seeking a successor, and had appointed a search committee and held a retreat for them in late January.
After the pandemic hit, it became clear the search committee could not continue on the schedule it had planned. Miller, who has served since 2003, decided to keep to his original December 31 retirement date, and the Standing Committee began planning for an extended provisional episcopacy.
From January 1 to March 31 of 2020, the Standing Committee will be the ecclesiastical authority for the Diocese of Milwaukee. Two bishops from outside the diocese will split the role of assisting bishop: The Rt. Rev. Matthew Gunter, bishop of Fond du Lac and provisional bishop of Eau Claire, will be the assisting bishop January 1 to February 15, and the Rt. Rev. Keith Whitmore, a retired Bishop of Eau Claire, will be the assisting bishop February 16 to March 31.”
Unlike assisting bishops, a provisional bishop must be elected, and Bishop Lee will serve as provisional bishop designee from April 1 until a special vote can be held, probably in June.
The Diocese of Nevada has announced it will accept nominations until January 29, 2021, prior to the election of the XI Bishop of Nevada. The previous bishop, the Rt. Rev. Dan Thomas Edwards, retired at the end of 2018, and the search for a successor was troubled even before the pandemic arrived.
The diocese had announced a three-person slate of candidates in August 2018, and was on track for an electing convention in December. But the Standing Committee suddenly canceled the election after receiving new information, the nature of which was not specified. Bishop Todd Ousley of the Church’s Office of Pastoral Development later told TLC that the new information called into question the suitability of one of the candidates, and raised concerns about the methodology of the search process.
The Rt. Rev. James Waggoner Jr., the retired Bishop of Spokane, has served Nevada as assisting bishop since Edwards’s retirement. The new timetable envisions announcing a slate of candidates in May 2021, holding an election in October, and consecrating a new bishop in January 2022.
The Diocese of Southwest Florida has announced that applications for membership on the search committee to choose a bishop coadjutor will be accepted until December 31.
A bishop coadjutor automatically becomes bishop diocesan when the predecessor leaves office. The Rt. Rev. Dabney Smith, the V Bishop of Southwest Florida, has not announced a retirement date, but in October 2020 he called for a coadjutor election.