March 23, 2022
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
On behalf of the Bishop Search Committee, I write to update you on the progress of our work. We are happy to report that more candidates responded to our position profile than we had expected based on similar searches in other dioceses. Candidates specifically cited the position profile as having helped inspire them to respond to our call. We feel blessed to have a strong group of candidates!
Based on the feedback we gleaned from nearly two dozen listening sessions with members of our diocese, we are assessing the candidates’ application materials and preparing questions for the two rounds of interviews we will conduct before we recommend a group of finalists for your consideration. Representatives from every parish will ultimately choose our next bishop at the diocesan convention next autumn. We hope you will please consider representing your parish at that important gathering.
We are grateful to those of you who participated in our listening sessions or shared your thoughts and questions with us individually. One of the concerns we heard focused on the search process itself: some had hoped the listening sessions would be held before the position profile was posted. We understand this concern; there are advantages and disadvantages to the process we followed. One of the advantages was that posting the profile sooner afforded more time to recruit candidates and assess them, which bore fruit in this case. Even so, a disadvantage is that some members of the diocese initially felt less included in the search.
Please know that we are working hard to make sure your priorities for the next bishop are incorporated fully in this search process. The position profile was not the final word on our next bishop – far from it – but was merely a call to those who might be interested. The profile gave some initial shape to the applications, but as the process unfolds, we continue to adjust that shape in response to your input, getting more fine-tuned at every stage.
The listening sessions have already informed the application materials: questions drawn from your ideas were used as the basis for short essays from each candidate. Those questions elicited important feedback from our candidates about key challenges for our diocese, including racial justice and the need to find creative ways to support and include smaller parishes outside of our more densely populated metro areas—especially parishes that are struggling. Looking ahead, your feedback continues to serve as one of our most important guides as we prepare for two upcoming rounds of interviews. We will be asking the candidates about many topics you’ve raised with us, including the importance of deacons, the bishop’s role as pastor to clergy, and the development of Bellwether Farm as an asset for all.
We have a lot of work to do before we’ll be ready to recommend to you a group of finalists for your consideration. Throughout this process, we appreciate your support, encouragement, and participation!
Halley Marsh, Chair