EAU CLAIRE: Diocese elects Edwin Leidel as provisional bishop[Episcopal News Service] A special convention of the Diocese of Eau Claire, meeting on August 28 at Christ Church Cathedral, Eau Claire, elected the Rt. Rev. Edwin M. Leidel, Jr., retired Bishop of Eastern Michigan, as its provisional bishop, according to a release from the diocese that has also been posted on its website.
The diocese, located in northwestern Wisconsin, had been without episcopal leadership since April 2008, when the Rt. Rev. Keith B. Whitmore resigned to serve as assisting bishop in the Diocese of Atlanta. Eau Claire's Standing Committee has been the ecclesiastical authority during the vacancy.
Leidel's ministry will be divided into several continuous blocks of time for the next 15 months, the initial segment running from the election through Nov. 13, the release said, adding that Leidel will work on a one-third time basis.
In remarks prior to the election, Leidel told deputies: "I am not here as a potential CEO/expert/consultant to tell you what to do, but I am here as a potential advocate, as a cheerleader and a coach to help you to become the best you can be. Please do not elect me if you want things to be as they've always been. Do not elect me if you do not think God is in this new thing. Do not elect me if you are unwilling to roll up your sleeves and do some hard work."
According to the release, Leidel plans an initial "visitation blitz" of all congregations, during which he will listen and ask such questions as, "What's working? Where are you experiencing God? What are your hopes for a sustainable future?"
It's "a new time, not a time to sit back and say 'Whew!' but a time to pull together and work together as never before," Leidel said.
"Bishop Leidel's overwhelming election by lay and clerical deputies is in response to a deliberate and prayerful period of discernment as to the possibilities for the diocese," according to the release. "The consensus emerged that the services of a part-time bishop provisional would best facilitate this continuing process.
"Leidel's proven record of leadership makes him uniquely qualified to assist the Eau Claire diocese in making a healthy and thoughtful transition into the future," the release continued. "He brings hope and optimism to the church in northwestern Wisconsin at a time of challenge and opportunity. The convention deputies heard their new bishop's challenge as he noted that when alone, believers are unconnected and fearful. Nothing can happen. But when 'connected, trusting, unified - we can. We will build a new and better future.'"