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TENNESSEE: Two nominees withdraw from bishop slate

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
10/20/2006
[Episcopal News Service]  The Episcopate Committee of the Diocese of Tennessee has announced that two of the five men nominated to succeed Bishop Bertram Herlong have withdrawn from the process.

The Rev. Thack H. Dyson, 50, of St. Paul's Church, Daphne, Alabama, and the Rev. Dr. Russell Jones Levenson, Jr., 44, of Christ Church Parish, Pensacola, Florida, have sent letters to the committee withdrawing their names from consideration. Both priests are from the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast.

"We are disappointed they could not continue with us; their statements explain their reasons very well," said the Rev. Canon Anne Stevenson and Dr. David L. Rowe, committee co-chairs in a written statement. "As we all know, calling of a bishop, like a rector, is a discernment process that requires both the caller and the respective nominees to search for God's will. God does not act according to our expectations or desires, but we know that God always serves our greatest good."

"Two nominees withdrew in our last process, though that was before the public announcement of the slate, so this truly is the way the process proceeds. Our attention now focuses on the three outstanding priests who continue with us, knowing that among these three is the next Bishop of the Diocese of Tennessee. Please continue to pray for them, for the electing delegates, and for our church in what is truly an exciting time in our church life."

The remaining nominees are: the Rev. John L Bauerschmidt, 47, rector, Christ Church, Covington, Louisiana, Diocese of Louisiana; the Rev. James L. Burns, 60, rector, Church of the Heavenly Rest, New York, Diocese of New York; and the Rev. Carter N. Paden, 53, rector, St. Peter's Episcopal Church and School, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Diocese of East Tennessee.

More information about all the nominees is available here

The electing convention will take place at Christ Church Cathedral on October 28. Three opportunities to meet the candidates are being held October 19, 20 and 21.

The convention will be the fourth time that the diocese convened to elect a successor to Herlong. The first meeting of the electing convention on March 18 recessed after 14 ballots. The lay and clergy electors returned to Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville March 25. They cast 11 more ballots without success. The delegates cast another 11 ballots on May 6.

The May 6 results are available at http://www.tnbishopsearch.org/election.html. The results of the March 25 Tennessee balloting can be seen at http://www.tnbishopsearch.org/election-old2.html. The March 18 ballots are available at http://www.tnbishopsearch.org/election-old.html.

Herlong, who intends to retire at the end of this year, reconfigured the Episcopate Committee in May and charged the members with gathering new names and offering a slate of three to five names.

The slate announced September 20 did not include any of the original nominees: the Rev. Canon Brian Cox, 55, rector, Christ the King Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, California; the Rev. Dr. Winston B. Charles, 57, rector, Christ Church, Raleigh, North Carolina (nominated by petition); the Rev. Canon James B. Magness, 59, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Kentucky; and the Rev. Canon Neal O. Michell, 53, canon missioner for strategic development, Diocese of Dallas.

In the Diocese of Tennessee, it is not unusual for bishop elections to require a number of ballots. Herlong was elected after 15 ballots and it took 39 ballots to elect his predecessor.

One reason for the length of the process is that both the lay order and the clergy order must cast two-thirds (66.7 percent) of their votes in favor of a single nominee on the same ballot.

The coadjutor, when elected, will become the 11th bishop of the diocese.