On June 24 at the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal church, a joint session of Deputies and Bishops got a firsthand introduction to the four candidates who were standing for election for Presiding Bishop. The man (and all four candidates are men) who is elected will serve for nine years or until they reach age 72. The four candidates are:
The Rt. Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal, Bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio
The Rt. Rev. Michael B. Curry, Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina
The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop of the Diocese of Connecticut
The Rt. Rev. Dabney T. Smith, Bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida
On Saturday, the House of Bishops will elect one of them and that election will then need to be affirmed by the House of Deputies.
The candidates were presented in short videos, then made opening statements and answered a series of randomly selected questions before making closing remarks. The topics of the questions focused on some of the flashpoints of the church that will come up later in the Convention including divestiture of investments, same-sex marriage, and the structure of the church.
The side conversations on the floor of the house ranged from reflections on what the candidates had to say, to what impact the role of Presiding Bishop has on the church as a whole. The Presiding Bishop is a focal point when issues arise and often makes statements about crisis throughout the church and the world.
For our life together at St. Luke’s, the impact of the presiding Bishop is minimal. Because of the structure of the Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop does not have direct authority over bishops and priests. The Presiding Bishop does set the tone of the broader church and direction for the staff of the church headquarters. The emphasis and passions of the new Presiding Bishop could help guide and steer all of us in the church.
My prayer for us is that the new Presiding Bishop will help guide us in the direction where Jesus is calling us in the world. I pray the new Presiding Bishop will help emphasize building our community of faith through evangelism and helping develop tools that strengthen our commitment. I pray that the new Presiding Bishop can help connect our children to Christ and help model the caring and love that make me want to follow Jesus.