How long does a bishop search take?
In our Diocese, the process began with the charges to the Nominating/Search and Transition Committees by the Standing committee on October 5th 2018 and continues through to the electing council on September 21 2019, a period of almost 12 months.
What happens during this period of time?
There are three major phases of this important decision. The first two phases are lengthy. The first phase included developing and disseminating a questionnaire to the whole diocese, consolidating the responses and sharing these back to the Diocese through 9 Convocation Listening sessions and a special listening session with Diocesan youth. All this data was then used by the Nominating/Search Committee in the creation and publication of a profile about our Diocese and what we seek in a new bishop.
The second lengthy phase, and arguably the most important (and time-consuming), began with the receipt and evaluation of nominations and will continue until a slate of 3 to 5 candidates is given to the Standing Committee. Once finalists have been identified, there will be in-depth background and reference checks. The Search Committee will then present a list of 3 to 5 candidates to the Standing Committee in June 2019.
Once the slate of candidates is published by the Standing Committee, a third phase begins. During this time there will be a short period for accepting additional nominations by petition to the Standing Committee. Background checks will also be done on individuals properly nominated by petition. There will also be four “walk about opportunities” around the Diocese. These open public forums with the nominees gives everyone a chance to meet them, ask questions of them and hear their responses.
Once the election has been completed at a special session of the Council (September 21, 2019), the Standing Committee must receive consent for the consecration of the Bishop-Elect from a majority of the Bishops Diocesan of the Church and a majority of the Standing Committees of the dioceses. Only after these procedural requirements have been met can the consecration take place.
How will you communicate with us and what can you communicate with us?
The first phase is completed. During this phase we gathered information about our Diocese to create a profile of who we are, and the qualities, characteristics, and work experience we desire in a new bishop. The results of this phase are shared on this web site.
The second phase when we are receiving and evaluating nominees is confidential. Out of respect to the nominees and their current ministries, we must honor their privacy while they are in discernment with us. As you can imagine, it could be very disruptive for a person’s current congregation or ministry to learn that she or he might be considering accepting a new call before the final slate of candidates is made public. During this time, we will not be able to share information about the nominees we have, how many are remaining in our process, or whether an individual is or is not part of our pool.
The third phase begins once a slate of candidates is given to the Standing Committee in June 2019. This phase is very open. At this time there will be an opportunity for petition candidates who are not presented on the slate to be considered and there will be open, public gatherings throughout the diocese to meet the candidates in person.
Who is eligible to become bishop?
Any priest or bishop who is at least 30 years old is eligible for ordination and consecration as a bishop. Note that the Constitution and Canons require a bishop to resign upon attaining the age of 72. For further information on the eligibility of a bishop, see Article II of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church at this link: generalconvention.org
What are the duties of the Search Committee?
The Search and Nominating Committee will:
- Develop and oversee a process for creating a diocesan profile
- Receive nominations
- Evaluate the qualifications of those being considered
- Submit to the Standing Committee at least three nominees who have consented to stand for election and whose backgrounds have been received and approved
- Publish complete profiles of the nominees and any other educational material deemed helpful
What are the duties of the Transition Committee?
The Transition Committee will:
- Provide for the transition from office of the retiring Bishop
- Provide hospitality for the candidates and their families
- Provide “walkabout” opportunities for all nominees to meet with as many members of the Diocese as possible
- Hold the primary responsibility for the planning of the Consecration and/or Seating of the new Bishop
- Assist the Bishop in adapting to and being introduced to the Diocesan Community
Who appoints the people on the Search and Nominating Committee and the Transition Committee?
The Standing Committee of our diocese appoints people to these committees in accordance with the Constitution and Canons governing our diocese.
Do members of the Search and Nominating Committee have a particular constituency they are representing? (e.g. representatives from larger parishes, smaller parishes, regions of the Diocese)
No. Everyone on the Search and Nominating Committee is charged to put aside individual agendas and to represent the whole of the diocese by arriving at a consensus for the nominees.
Will we know the list of everyone who applies?
No. In order to respect the confidentiality of everyone who applies, we will publish only the list of the names of the candidates on the final slate presented to the Standing Committee.
Who votes at the election of the new bishop?
All delegates to the Electing Council of the Diocese of Southern Virginia at a location to be announced are to vote in the election. “Delegates” include two groups: (1) all clergy who are canonically resident in the Diocese at the time of the election; (2) lay persons who are elected as representatives of their congregations. The Council comprises a balanced representation of lay and clergy delegates. The formula for congregational voting representation, which is basically proportional to membership, is spelled out in detail in the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of Southern Virginia, Article III. Voting at Council takes place by order (clergy and laity voting as a bodies) and a majority of both orders on the same ballot is required to elect. Please note: The completed form “Certificate of Lay Delegates and Alternates” had to be submitted by Parishes by May 31 2019 in order to vote in this election.
When will the ordination of the new bishop happen?
The ordination of the new bishop will take place Saturday February 1, 2020 at Saint Bede in Williamsburg, VA. More details will follow.