Questions for Presiding Bishop Candidates, 2015

Written by:
Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

The following are questions we would want to see posed to and answered by the current candidates for Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. We hope that our bishops will make sure that these, or questions like them, are put forward and engaged publicly by the candidates themselves.

In general, the Presiding Bishop is defined as the “chief pastor”, “primate”, “leader”, and “spokesperson” for the national church as it is ordered by General Convention. The Constitution gives the Presiding Bishop no “metropolitical” authority, in that the office has no jurisdiction over other bishops, and the General Convention has explicitly rejected the notion that the Presiding Bishop is an “archbishop”, even in name only. Hence, qualities and commitments that engage pastoral and representative duties should be foremost in assessing candidates, ones that embody the teachings and spirit of Jesus Christ. The questions below relate to such qualities as we understand them in the context of our present times.

Questions to which a “yes” answer should raise serious questions about the candidate’s fitness for the role of Presiding Bishop:

  1. Have you ever or are you now engaged in lawsuits against fellow Christians?
  2. Would you ever use church funds to support lawsuits against fellow Christians?
  3. Would you ever pursue the discipline of a bishop without open engagement and consultation with the House of Bishops?
  4. Would you ever use the disciplinary canons to silence critics of present national church policy?
  5. Do you believe the present Title IV disciplinary canons are constitutional in respect of the role they give to a single Presiding Bishop vis-à-vis fellow bishops, and to a bishop vis-à-vis diocesan priests?

Questions to which a “yes” answer speaks positively to the candidate’s suitability for the role of Presiding Bishop

  1. Will you take the initiative and seek to be an engaged pastor for all Episcopalians, including those with whom you disagree and who may even oppose your ministry?
  2. Will you work for the free and protected space within TEC for classical and traditional Anglican teaching and witness?
  3. Will you defer to the witness and teaching needs of the majority “poor churches” of the world, within the Anglican Communion and other ecclesial bodies, in Africa, Asia and Latin America especially, or within areas of beleaguered minority witness, as in Muslim nations?
  4. Will it be your priority to consult openly and patiently with the full breadth of the Anglican Communion, and with the Catholic and Orthodox Churches, as well as with growing Pentecostal churches, in the face of conflicts over such witness and teaching, and to do so before TEC makes changes that pertain to such witness and teaching?
  5. Do you believe that bishops have authority to order liturgy within their dioceses, according to the BCP’s rubrics, teachings, and usage?
  6. Will you lead in seeking formal discussion and reconciliation with departed Episcopalians and Anglicans now ministering in North America, in ACNA and related churches?

The current Presiding Bishop and her advisors have overseen a period of unprecedented ill-health with respect to TEC’s membership, theological education and evangelistic ministry; with respect to the national church’s fiscal integrity; and with respect to TEC’s larger ecclesial relationships around the world. Some believe that this is all a price worth paying for furthering a set of important values regarding sexual life. We and, we know, many others, cannot agree. We pray that the bishops of our church have realized that another path and that significantly different leadership are now required for the faithful life and witness of our church.

June 16 2015 09:15 am | Articles