Bishop James Jelinek of Minnesota has told the leadership and clergy of the diocese that he plans to retire in mid-2010.
Jelinek, 64, also outlined a timeline for his succession in a statement he presented to a joint session of the Diocesan Council, Standing Committee and Trustees on September 21, and to the clergy of the diocese gathered at their fall clergy conference on September 25.
"I had intended to set forth this plan next year, but feel the need to announce it now because it has been talked about in the Bishop's Commission on Mission Strategy during the summer, resulting in speculation and projection by many," Jelinek said. "My hesitancy in bringing this up now is the obvious concern about being ‘a lame duck,’ especially when we are engaged in so many ways to determine the near and further future of the diocese."
Jelinek, the eighth bishop of Minnesota, has served as the diocesan bishop since 1993.
He said that, at the diocese’s 2007 convention, he intends to call for the election of a bishop coadjutor, setting in motion a process that would culminate with an electing convention in the spring of 2009. The consecration would then be likely to happen during the 2009 diocesan convention, which is normally held in October.
Jelinek is required by Episcopal Church canon law to leave office within three years of his successor's consecration.
Jelinek said in his statement that, during his time as bishop, the diocese has joined together to carry out "the long standing legacy of what it means to be Episcopalians in Minnesota: we have warmly welcomed all people through our red doors, we have fed the hungry, spoken for those who have no opportunity to speak, stood with the oppressed and given hope to the hopeless."
"Everything we are now engaged in is about the transformation of the diocese," he said, including the commission on mission strategy, clergy conferences, continuing education for clergy, congregational analysis, discernment efforts for ordained and team ministry and the creation of a development department.
"We need to push on, search deeper and identify the things that keep the people of this diocese from working together for mission, ministry and evangelism. The Bishop's Commission on Mission Strategy has helped us identify where we need to go and is helping us move further in working together constructively. We are expanding the scope to include the entire diocese," he said. "I know that there are some who believe we cannot do any of this under my leadership. They are welcome to their opinion, but are invited to join the leadership of this diocese in following the course we have agreed to pursue. We simply need to keep moving forward together now. My concern, from my experience with organizations, is that should we resist moving forward now, it will be about five years into my successor's episcopate before the diocese can tackle this hard inner work again."
The full text of the statement is available here.