The stage is set to elect the next presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church on Sunday, June 18, at the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio.
Seven names will be formally submitted to a 2:30 p.m. joint session of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies the day before. This includes a slate of four recommended by the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop, a body composed of bishops, clergy and laity who worked for the past three years in a process of discernment and interviews. The three others were nominated by bishops or deputies.
“Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia and I will formally submit the names of our nominees for consideration,” said Diane Pollard of New York, who, with Lee, co-chaired the 29-member committee. The committee developed a job description, inviting nominations. It received 24 names and determined that 22 bishops met the criteria for eligibility.
How the election process will continue once Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold officially closes the nominations will depend upon a special order of business. At the last election nine years ago, two supporters of each candidate had the opportunity for three-minute speeches. The nominees were not allowed to speak.
The following morning, after Sunday Eucharist, the bishops will convene in executive session at Trinity Episcopal Church near the state Capitol, where the bishops will be sequestered for the election.
The next presiding bishop will be elected by a simple majority of bishops present. Voting will continue as many times as necessary until a majority is achieved. Unlike in the 1997 election, vote tallies will be made public.
Once the House of Bishops has chosen the presiding bishop-elect, it remains in session until the House of Deputies discusses and concurs with its choice. When the deputies concur, the bishops certify the election.
The presiding bishop-elect will be invited to address both houses, but he or she will not officially take office until the Nov. 4 installation at Washington National Cathedral. The presiding bishop is elected every nine years to serve as the chief pastor and primate of the church. Canon law (Title I Canon 1.2.4(a)(1)) charges the presiding bishop with responsibility for leadership in initiating and developing church policy and strategy and for representing church policies, strategies and programs authorized by General Convention.
The presiding bishop also is charged with speaking God’s words to the church and to the world, as the representative of this church and its episcopate in its corporate capacity. (Title I Canon 1.2.4(a) (2)). Besides these key roles, the presiding bishop oversees and presides at meetings of the House of Bishops, provides for episcopal ministry in cases of vacancies and visits the dioceses of the church (Title I Canon 1.2.4(a) (3-6)).
For biographical information on all of the nominees, visit the website at:www.episcopalchurch.org/ens and click on the “Election of the 26th Presiding Bishop.”