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Diocesan Digest - February 23

2/23/2006
[Episcopal New Service] 
  • CALIFORNIA: Nominees to succeed Swing announced
  • NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: Coadjutor nominees announced
  • TEXAS: Bishop says diocese will maintain Communion ties
  • SOUTHERN VIRGINIA: Diocese begins transition


CALIFORNIA: Nominees to succeed Swing announced

[SOURCE: Diocese of California] A slate of five candidates to be the eighth bishop of California was placed in nomination February 20.

In October 2004, Bishop William Swing of California announced his intention to retire in this year.

The nominees include:

  • the Rt. Rev. Mark Handley Andrus, 49, bishop suffragan, Diocese of Alabama;
  • the Rev. Jane Gould, 49, rector, St. Stephen's Church, Lynn, Massachusetts;
  • the Rev. Bonnie Perry, 43, rector, All Saints' Church, Chicago, Illinois;
  • the Rev. Canon Eugene Taylor Sutton, 52, canon pastor of Washington National Cathedral; and
  • the Very Rev. Robert V. Taylor, 47, dean, St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle, Washington.

The election will take place at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, on May 6. The new bishop will be consecrated on July 22.

The election is one of seven to which all bishops with jurisdiction and the House of Deputies at General Convention will be asked to consent during its meeting June 13-21 in Columbus, Ohio. All dioceses electing bishops within three months of General Convention present their selection at the convention for consents. (Consents for elections outside this period are obtained via mail from all diocesan bishops and standing committees.)

The search committee said that nominations by petition may be made before March 13.

More information about the candidates is available at http://bishopsearch.org/nominees.html


NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: Coadjutor nominees announced

[SOURCE: Diocese of Northern California] Four people are on the slate for bishop of the Diocese of Northern California.

Bishop Jerry Lamb called, in late 2004, for the election of a coadjutor to succeed him when he retires January 1, 2007.

The nominees are:

  • the Rev. Canon Barry L. Beisner, 54, Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Northern California,
  • the Rev. Jonathan B. Coffey Jr., 56, rector, St. Anthony's on the Desert, Scottsdale, Arizona (Diocese of Arizona),
  • the Rev. Canon Irwin M. Lewis, Jr., 53, Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Southern Virginia,
  • the Very Rev. James Nixon, 57, rector, St. Catherine's Episcopal Church, Marietta, Georgia, Diocese of Atlanta

The search committee said that nominations by petition may be made before March 3. The electing convention will be May 6 at Faith Episcopal Church in Cameron Park, California. The new bishop will be consecrated on September 30.

The election is one of eight to which General Convention will be asked to consent in during its meeting June 13-21 in Columbus, Ohio. All dioceses electing bishops within 120 days before General Convention present their selection to the convention for its consent. (Consents for elections outside this period are obtained via mail from all diocesan bishops and standing committees.)

More information about the candidates is available at http://www.dncweb.org/bishop_search/bishop_search.htm

SOUTHERN VIRGINIA: Diocese begins transition

[SOURCE: Diocese of Southern Virginia] The Diocese of Southern Virginia officially began its transition from its bishop, David Bane, to the leadership of its tenth bishop at the 114th Annual Council the weekend of February 10-12. Bane retired at the conclusion of the Festival Eucharist on Feb. 12.

In his final address to the Council on February 11, Bane reviewed some of the history of his tenure, marked in the last two to three years by increasing tension and discord in the leadership of the Diocese. Banecompared the current situation to the moment the high wire trapeze artist actually has to let go and fly through the air.

"You are now at that moment. It has got to be filled with many emotions - fear, hope, excitement, anxiety and maybe even a touch of regret. My sisters and brothers in Christ, there is a whole lot of 'letting go' that needs to happen here. I believe that what you are experiencing is an integral part of being alive and God is right in the middle of it. Only God knows what will happen from here. There is heartache in this community around words and behavior and damaged relationships that must be identified, confessed, hung on the cross and put behind you," he said.

The tension and discord came to a head in the fall of 2004 when a diocesan review committee reported on bad leadership by the bishop, "major ineptitude" in financial management and a near-total absence of accountability in diocesan operations. The 2005 Council asked the presiding bishop to appoint three bishops to recommend a course of action.

Bishops Chilton Knudsen of Maine, Gordon Scruton of Western Massachusetts and Charles Jenkins of Louisiana said last fall that dysfunctional relations among clergy, lay leaders and bishops had plagued the diocese for decades and required "deep systemic change." They suggested a three-year interim with the search for a new bishop to begin in the third year "to allow for the grace of an interim period to unfold fully."

The Rt. Rev. Robert H. Johnson has been selected by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Southern Virginia to become the diocese's interim bishop. He will serve until at least the middle of July, except for a period in late March or early April when he has a prior commitment. Another interim bishop is expected to be named in late summer.

In other business, the council adopted watered-down versions of two resolutions. One said that the council "fully embraces the Windsor Report in letter and spirit." The other said that councils of the Church have, and sometimes will, make mistakes but that Jesus, present through the Holy Spirit, can and will correct such error.

Resolutions dealing with reconciliation, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and anti-racism efforts were also adopted, as were four canonical changes. The Council also approved balanced $1.85 million budget.

TEXAS: Bishop says diocese will maintain Communion ties

[SOURCE: Diocese of Texas] Bishop Don Wimberly, in his address to the Diocese of Texas' 157th Council on February 11, said he intends to maintain the diocese's connections to both the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church. He called the diocese "a living sacrament of God's hope."

"I am not going to contribute to further division within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion by leaving. I will stay the course we are on and together we are going to bear both a truthful and charitable witness," he said, claiming the middle ground because it is there "that we may be called to unity in the truth of Christ."

Wimberly said that the Windsor Report calls Anglicans within the Episcopal Church to a process of reconciliation to overcome divisions. He called for the diocese to settle its differences by means of charity, not actions that bring separation.

"I intend to lead by following the Windsor Report," he said. "I also intend to remain within the Episcopal Church," he said, in part as a witness to the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion that it is possible to "be unified beyond differences into a church that is about the work of the gospel of Christ."

Wimberly announced plans to plant two churches in the Austin area in the coming year and said the diocese hopes to help St. Philip's, Austin, to purchase property for a permanent church.

The Council approved Wimberly's request for a bishop suffragan for the region to be elected April 29. More information is available on the website at: www.epicenter.org. The election is one of eight to which all bishops with jurisdiction and the House of Deputies at General Convention will be asked to consent during its meeting June 13-21 in Columbus, Ohio. All dioceses electing bishops within three months of General Convention present their selection at the convention for consents. (Consents for elections outside this period are obtained via mail from all diocesan bishops and standing committees.)

Council delegates approved an $8.2 million operating budget and a $3.1 million missionary budget. The operating increased about $1 million through consolidation of diocesan foundation revenues for increased medical benefits and insurance and a two percent cost of living increase. The missionary budget includes more than $1 million for mission congregations, $653,503 for 15 college ministries and $553,400 for outreach programs.

Among the resolutions that delegates approved were ones:

  • setting as a goal a minimum of 0.7 percent of the annual diocesan budget to address the aims of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals and challenging congregations to do the same,
  • urging General Convention to elect a presiding bishop who will preserve the Episcopal Church as a member of the Anglican Communion and who will deal with the divisions in the church in a reconciling manner, and
  • amending the diocesan constitution to define "Episcopal Church" in more complete terms (using words from the preamble to the Constitution of the Episcopal Church).


Delegates defeated two resolutions seeking to direct deputies' actions at General Convention, including one titled "Mind of Council Regarding Schism."

The Council also defeated proposed canonical changes to define a process for calling rectors and to repeal its moral discipline canon. The discipline canon requires clergy to model "in their lives the received teaching of the Church that all members must abstain from sexual relations outside Holy Matrimony" and it defines Holy Matrimony to mean "the physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman."