While 2020 will go down as one of our most memorable years, I haven’t heard many regrets about turning the page. With the hope that the pandemic will ease off in the new year, possibilities seem to be opening up ahead of us. Many people are grateful for the ways our churches have kept us connected and are looking forward to getting more involved when we can.
Over a year ago Bishop Hayashi announced his upcoming retirement, and we formed a Nominating Committee to identify candidates to succeed him. The Rev. Canon Ron Clingenpeel joined us as a consultant and led an informative weekend of training. (Remember when we could do things like that in person?) Our committee was busy making plans when the dangers of the pandemic became apparent. Even so, we seriously considered pushing our way forward, before taking a seven-month hiatus.
In retrospect, that was a good decision. The church needed time to adapt to dramatically changing circumstances, which it did. Bishop Hayashi delayed his retirement, giving us steady pastoral leadership in an uncertain time. Several varieties of online worship services have become familiar, with large numbers of people joining in. (Did you hear about the Dinka-language Easter service that drew thousands of worshippers from across the country?) Now children delight in locally-produced Father Growley videos, anti- racism groups gather on Zoom, and our far-flung clergy leaders meet with the bishop every week for conversation and prayer. We’re becoming a new church, and many of these innovations will continue after in-person worship resumes.
I’m deeply grateful that the gifted and committed members of the Nominating Committee have all returned for the second phase of our work. Embracing new technologies, we’ll survey the diocese, create an online profile and interview candidates over the internet. At least two significant things will be different this year: when we’ve found eight semi- finalists, we plan to get to know each other by gathering in person. And we’ll be calling a bishop to lead us into a new era in the church, connected to the past while reaching toward the future.
This is exciting stuff, but honestly, our heads are spinning. While we might have resisted changing in response to the pandemic, the Spirit would not let us rest. Now all of our gifts are needed to respond to the challenges and opportunities ahead of us. So please, stay engaged with your congregation, fill out our survey and pray for everyone involved in this process. With God’s help and the new church at work, a bright future beckons for the Diocese of Utah.
Rev. Michael Carney
Nominating Committee Chair
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