This weekend, the Episcopal Diocese of New York elected a Bishop Coadjutor (such a bishop has automatic right of succession to the current Diocesan Bishop, the Bishop Mark Sisk, when he retires). The discernment process was clear, clean, and public. A “Committee to Elect a Bishop” proposed five candidates, one of those withdrew, and two candidates were nominated “from the floor”. Statements from them, questions and answers, and videos of them were all in a similar format and of equal quality of production. You could follow the election live on twitter and on facebook. You could pray for all involved. I did.
New Zealand Anglicanism has, over recent years, elected six new bishops and is about to elect another one. The electoral processes and preparation have in each case been different. They have struggled to fit within the canon, and mostly have certainly tended to depart from the canon’s terminology. How is the electoral organising committee (a group not mentioned in the canon) chosen? Are candidates “nominated” prior to the constituting of the electoral college? Can members of the “organising committee” “nominate” or not (especially if they are setting the rules about “closing of nominations” – a concept certainly contrary to canon; meetings with candidates; etc)? Are profiles of “candidates” equally available to all voting? Are all such profiles and videos of equal “standard” in quality of production? Some, but not all, electoral colleges pass a motion of confidentiality… The list of questions and points goes on.
One might validly argue it was irresponsible of General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui not to have reviewed and updated the very nineteenth-century-feeling canon on electing a bishop prior to the spate of recent elections. Certainly if General Synod/Te Hinota Whanui meeting in 2012, after the seventh recent Episcopal election, does not set in motion a review of the process one could certainly argue church governance is in sleep-walking mode.
ps. Since most elections here appear to be estimating The Episcopal Church model for electing a bishop – in the redrafting of our canon, why not use the TEC system as a starting point for the revision of our own canon?
pps. The Rev. Canon Andrew Dietsche (one of the Floor Nominees) was elected. Prayers for him and for the diocese. The bishop coadjutor-elect must now receive the consent of a majority both of the other diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church and of the standing committees of the Church’s dioceses, before being consecrated in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine on Saturday, March 10, 2012.
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