October 29, 2021
Dear Friends in Christ:
The Standing Committee of the Diocese is very pleased to announce members of the Bishop Search Committee. (Member bios
- Halley Marsh, Chair
- Lance Grahn
- The Rev. George Baum
- Norman Jones
- Kristen Busa
- The Rev. Chris McCann
- Greg Daniels
- Rebecca Montague
- The Rev. Mike Floyd
- Antoinnette Ponzo
- The Rev. Elizabeth Frank
- The Rev. Lisa Tucker-Gray
This group of faithful Christians embodies a broad range of experiences in the church and represents every geographic Mission Area of our Diocese. Their diverse backgrounds, varied professional experiences, and unwavering commitment to Christ’s Church give us tremendous confidence in their capability and willingness to follow the Spirit’s lead as they do the work God has called them to do. The Bishop Search Committee was chosen from a large group of extremely qualified candidates and we extend our gratitude to all those who volunteered to serve or offered nominations.
Over the next several months, the Search Committee will be responsible for finalizing the draft diocesan profile, inviting nominations and applications, and seeking out qualified candidates. The committee will hold listening sessions across the diocese to better understand the needs, hopes, and desires for our next bishop. Once nominations are closed, the committee will prayerfully discern alongside the candidates and, in August 2022, will present a slate of three to five nominees for bishop to the Standing Committee.
We hope to make this process as transparent as possible and are therefore providing the following (attached) list of Frequently Asked Questions that have been raised over the past several weeks. Additionally, members of the Standing Committee are always happy to field questions, comments, or concerns.
Richard T. Preston, President
The Rev. Vanessa Clark, Secretary
The Rev. Charlotte Collins Reed
The Rev. Dr. Brian K. Wilbert
The Rev. Alex Martin
Frequently Asked Questions about the current bishop transition process
What is the Standing Committee’s role in this process?
The Standing Committee’s primary role is to design the search process. There is no prescribed roadmap describing how a bishop search is done. At the encouragement of Bishop Todd Ousley from the Episcopal Church’s Office of Pastoral Development, we are intentionally using a new model.
The Standing Committee has assembled a highly qualified search committee and, while communication liaisons will be appointed, no members of the Standing Committee will serve on the Search Committee to protect the autonomy of that committee’s work.
In the coming months, the Standing Committee will assemble a transition committee that will coordinate “meet-and-greet” events with the final slate of nominees (virtually and in person) and help organize the logistics of the consecration of our new bishop. In late winter, nominations will be sought from across the diocese of those interested in serving on the Transition Committee.
Why did the Standing Committee put together the Diocesan Profile draft?
As recommended by the Presiding Bishop’s office, the Standing Committee is employing a new model for a bishop transition. A key difference in this model is that the Standing Committee initially drafted the Diocesan Profile which typically has been done by search committees. Feedback received throughout the church is that diocesan profiles consume an enormous amount of a search committee’s time and focus, while most end up sounding very similar.
The Standing Committee worked to produce an initial draft of the profile in order to give the Search Committee a strong starting point. The goal was for a high-level overview of our diocese unlike in previous bishop searches in our diocese (and elsewhere) that have produced extensive documents. The profile is meant to be one of several tools employed to aid in the process of mutual discernment. The opportunity for the Search Committee to hear from the diocese and to discern what we are looking for in a bishop has yet to come.
The Search Committee will now have the responsibility for reviewing diocesan feedback to the draft profile and finalizing the document as they deem appropriate.
Why hasn’t the diocese been given an opportunity to provide input beyond reactions to the profile?
Your opportunity is still coming! The Standing Committee has charged the Search Committee to hold listening sessions across the diocese in order to understand our concerns, needs, and hopes as well as our aspirations for our next bishop. This will afford the Search Committee a greater understanding of how the Spirit is moving in our diocese prior to reviewing candidates’ applications.
Did the bishop search process really begin two years ago?
Knowing that Bishop Hollingsworth’s retirement was on the horizon, the Standing Committee intentionally set aside time at its meetings over the last two years for education in preparation for a transition. The committee sought to understand: What does a bishop do? What blessings, challenges, and ministries are particular to our diocese? How does a bishop transition work? What are other dioceses doing? These intentional opportunities for education led to the Standing Committee’s decision to adopt the new model for a bishop transition and, while not comprehensive, provided an understanding of many important facets of our diocese for the drafting of the profile.
How involved is Bishop Hollingsworth?
In addition to sharing information about his experiences and role as bishop and a comprehensive assessment of the diocese from his perspective, Bishop Hollingsworth has been instrumental in connecting the Standing Committee to the Presiding Bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development and our outside consultants. Beyond that, the Bishop has graciously excused himself from discussions on the upcoming transition to protect the integrity of the process.
What happens once the Search Committee presents a slate of nominees for Bishop?
The Standing Committee has tasked the Search Committee to present a slate of three to five nominees for bishop in August 2022. The Search Committee’s work will end at that time. A short petition period will follow, allowing the inclusion of additional nominees on the final slate. From there, the Transition Committee will arrange the “meet-and-greet” events with the nominees. While timelines must remain flexible to follow the leading of the Spirit, our goal is to elect our next bishop at Diocesan Convention in November 2022.
What is a Bishop Coadjutor? Why elect a Bishop Coadjutor?
A bishop coadjutor is a bishop elected to succeed the current diocesan bishop following a period of joint service together. Allowing for the current diocesan bishop and the bishop coadjutor to serve together for a brief period will provide the new bishop and the diocese with both continuity and flexibility, and increases the promise of a smooth and stable transition.
Last year, the Standing Committee reviewed the bishop election options and it became clear early on that the election of a bishop coadjutor made the most sense for our diocese at this time. Anticipating significant turnover among the diocesan staff and the full retirement of our assisting bishops, the need for continuity of leadership became particularly evident.
What will be the role of the two bishops as they share responsibilities and how long will Bishop Hollingsworth and the Bishop Coadjutor serve together?
During the period of coadjutorship, delineation of responsibilities will depend upon the needs and wishes of the Bishop Coadjutor. The duration of that period will be at the direction of the Bishop Coadjutor, in consultation with the Standing Committee.
If I’m not on the Search or Standing Committees, how can I be involved?
First, please continue to pray for this process. In the coming months, listening sessions will be held where you’ll have an opportunity to share your perspectives with the Search Committee. In the late winter months, nominations will be sought for the Transition Committee which will require an “all hands on deck” effort to manage upcoming logistics. Finally, we hope you will participate in future opportunities to meet the bishop nominees, ask questions, and prayerfully discern whom God is calling to lead us into the future.