What is a Bishop?
Check out this article from Nominating Committee member, Mary McEntire.
How will the Coronavirus pandemic impact the Bishop Search Process?
This is probably the question that is first on our mind, but never occurred to us at the start of our Bishop Search Process. How God laughs when we make plans! Obviously, significant changes to the process that we originally envisioned and communicated to you have taken place. The Standing Committee (who is canonically charged with overseeing this process) has been working with the Search/Nominating Committee to adjust to the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has presented and issued a formal statement to the Diocese of Utah on April 23. In that statement, the Standing Committee recommended shifting our timeline 60-90 days further out.
With the shift in the timeline recommended by the Standing Committee, what comes next?
Of primary importance is recognizing the safety precautions recommended by Bishop Hayashi. As we are aware, Sunday worship services have been suspended to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and no date for a safe resumption of our worship gatherings has been announced. The impact of this suspension primarily affects the spiritual life of our congregants, but also the original search timeline.
A Survey to gather input from members of the Diocese of Utah:
In the search process, it is important to gather feedback from all members of the diocese (congregants, clergy and staff). Prior to the coronavirus, the Search/Nominating Committee had chosen Holy Cow Consulting, an experienced survey organization that has supported many Episcopal bishop search processes (including our search for our 11th bishop) to design a Survey of the Diocese of Utah: this online survey is ready to launch when the Diocese is ready to receive it. As we seek our 12th bishop, we need to know who we are and what we seek in our next bishop: this survey is critical (especially since it is read by interested candidates).
Along with the online survey, it is important to have Focus (also called Listening) Groups to give in-person feedback. Initially, Focus/Listening groups of laity, clergy (all ordained orders and retired members) and staff would have been held just before and during the Diocesan Convention (postponed from the last weekend in April: now tentatively scheduled for August, if safety permits). The impact of the coronavirus has dominated the attention of most of us, resulting in another reason why the Standing Committee has shifted the timeline: it is important to have the focus and attention of all members of the diocese for this critical input. The Diocesan Survey and Focus/Listening groups will be held as soon as possible in order to gather this important data into our Diocesan Profile (possibly not until after resumption of Sunday worship services).
Publication of Diocesan Profile (online):
As the April 23 Standing Committee announcement indicates, the Profile publication will be shifted to early fall, at which time nominations will be opened throughout The Episcopal Church.
After the publication of the Diocese Profile and opening of nominations, what follows?
Nominations will be open for approximately three weeks after the Diocesan Profile is published online. All members of the Diocese of Utah are encouraged to contact anyone whom they might feel would be qualified to serve as our 12th bishop: with the challenges posed by the coronavirus, it is possible that potential candidates may overlook the opening of nominations to be the 12th bishop of Utah and such a reminder will be helpful. As our professional consultant has reminded us, when applications are received, it is critical to carefully evaluate all candidates. The Search/Nominating Committee will invite a small group to visit Utah in person to help determine a mutual fit.
Submission of slate of 3-5 Finalists to Standing Committee:
In winter, the Search/Nominating Committee will submit a slate of 3-5 candidates to the Standing Committee, all of whom this subcommittee feels would be qualified to be Bishop of Utah. With the submission of this slate to the Standing Committee, the work of the Search/Nominating Committee is over.
When do members of the Diocese of Utah meet these candidates?
The Standing Committee will hand over approved candidates (and any who may have been added through the petition process) to the Transition Committee (headed by Russ Pack), who will arrange a series of regional Meet & Greets to introduce these “finalists” to be the 12th Bishop of Utah to all members of the diocese. The Transition Committee will arrange the details.
How is our 12th Bishop of Utah selected?
Canonically, this selection is done by an election at a Diocesan Convention (to be elected, a candidate must receive a majority of both the lay and clergy delegates). At this time, the convention is scheduled for the spring of 2021, but everything is tentative due to shifts in timelines caused by the impact of the coronavirus.
Will the ordination and consecration of the 12th Bishop of Utah proceed as scheduled in the fall of 2021?
While we hope so, we call attention to the communication from the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry (traditionally, the Presiding Bishop performs the ceremony) on Tuesday, May 5, 2020:
“In making plans for the upcoming ordination and consecration of their new bishop, each diocese is following certain principles to balance concerns for participation and public health. These plans envision consecrations that:
– Can be relocated to smaller venues, preferably church settings that nevertheless provide adequate space for appropriate physical distancing of participants and attendees;
– Minimize in-person attendance and utilize live-streaming technology;
– Limit, with flexibility, the number of co-consecrating bishops and presenters, yet still satisfy canonical requirements;
– Forego social events; and,
– Re-imagine media briefings and clergy gatherings as virtual interactions with the Presiding Bishop.”
So, while we know that members of the Diocese of Utah have many questions, it is difficult to give definitive answers (as we have heard from Dr. Fauci and others, “the virus sets the timeline”). The Search/Nominating Committee has provided the best answers that we can at this time: please be tolerant, knowing that the virus is “in charge.” We are appreciative of the support of the Standing Committee and of your trust and patience.
May God continue to bless all members of this planet and guide all of us in our search process for the 12th Bishop of Utah. Please continue to visit the Bishop Search Website, utahbishopsearch.org, for details.