[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has become a beloved figure in the Episcopal Church and beyond, since his election in 2015. Best known for his rousing sermons, including at the 2018 royal wedding, Curry also led efforts to address racial and social injustice in church and society, and he pressed the Episcopal Church to spread the message of love of Jesus as she engages with the secular world.
Curry is nearing the end of his nine-year term as denominational leader of the Episcopal Church, one of two Episcopal Presidents along with the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The 81st The General Convention will elect Curry’s successor at its summer 2024 meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, and the new presiding bishop will be installed later in the year, on November 1.
The search for a new presiding bishop is underway, and this month Episcopalians are encouraged to complete an online survey to identify priorities for the church in the coming decade and the qualities the church will need. at his boss. The survey, written by the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop, can be completed in English, French or Spanish.
Nearly 2,400 people responded to the survey last week, the committee said. The deadline is October 31.
“We want to hear from Episcopalians across the church because their input will help guide us in our nominating work,” committee member Deborah Harmon Hines, who chairs the Research Profile subcommittee, said in a press release. “The survey is designed to help us discern some of the characteristics we hope to see in the person we elect as our next presiding bishop.”
The Canons of the Episcopal Church specify that the duties of the Presiding Bishop include presiding over the House of Bishops and the Executive Council, representing the Church in public affairs, and managing the staff of the Domestic Foreign Missionary Society, or DFMS, the corporate body from the church. The canons also dictate the composition and terms of reference of the committee that reviews and selects candidates for the next presiding bishop.
“Since we began meeting last October, we have come to know each other, to organize ourselves into a demanding community, to know our charge and to define our process and our timetable,” the Bishop of Alaska said. Mark Lattime, Nominating Committee Co-Chair. , Episcopal News Service said in a written statement.
The composition of the committee, according to the canons of the Episcopal Church, is five bishops, five priests or deacons, five laity, and five additional members chosen by the president of the Chamber of Deputies and the outgoing presiding bishop. The stream the list can be found online.
“The members are faithful, hopeful, good-natured Episcopalians,” Lattime said. “Our diversity and our common love for The Episcopal Church will continue to be the foundation of our work. We are listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we prepare to nominate bishops to stand for election at the 2024 General Convention.”
The online survey has three parts. The first asks respondents to rate a dozen areas of experience on the degree of their importance in the next presiding bishop, such as visioning, social justice work, administrative oversight, preaching, planting churches and the mastery of theology.
The second part asks three open questions:
- What are the top three issues facing the Episcopal Church in the next 10 years?
- What are the three major global challenges for the next ten years?
- What are the top three gifts or skills the next Presiding Bishop will need to lead the Episcopal Church?
For the last part of the survey, respondents provide anonymous information about their personal background.
From the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop:
— Episcopal News Service (@episcopal_news) October 12, 2022
Feedback from the survey will be analyzed and presented to the committee for reference when beginning to draft the official Presiding Bishop search profile or job description. The process mirrors those followed in searches for bishops of dioceses and searches for rectors of parishes. The Presiding Bishops Committee plans to publish its profile and a call for nominations in the spring of 2023.
“The Presiding Bishops Nominating Committee is unique among the other interim General Convention bodies in that we must operate in a confidential manner,” co-chair Steven Nishibayashi, a former member of the Executive Council of the Diocese of Los Angeles, told ENS. , in a written statement. “We will be as open and transparent as possible within the necessary limits of this confidentiality. And we are committed to keeping the church informed of our progress. Committee members hope the church will keep them in prayer as we move forward.
The process for nominating and selecting the Presiding Bishop is described in Canon 1.2. The 79e The General Convention revised this canon in 2018 to encourage a more diverse nominating committee, which now includes at least two members between the ages of 16 and 21, chosen by the President of the Chamber of Deputies. The two church presidents are to select three additional members to ensure the committee represents “the cultural and geographic diversity of the church.” The other members of the committee are elected by the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.
The Nominating Committee then develops “a process for soliciting and identifying qualified candidates”. The only canonical requirement is that candidates be members of the House of Bishops. There is no age limit, although the church’s mandatory retirement age for clergy is 72. This could become a consideration if a potential nominee reaches mandatory retirement before the end of the presiding bishop’s term, which is nine years. It is also possible, though rare, for a presiding bishop to serve only part of the nine-year term.
After receiving nominations from across the church, the committee must select three or more bishops for its slate of candidates. Additional candidates may be added later through a petition process.
The committee will present its final list in a joint session of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies at 81st General convention. The House of Bishops will then meet separately to elect a Presiding Bishop from one of these candidates, and this election must be confirmed by the House of Deputies.
Canon 1.2.4 details the primary duties of the presiding bishop in the role of “chief pastor and primate of the church”. They include the visitation and celebration of the Holy Eucharist in each diocese, support for dioceses carrying out bishop searches, the consecration of new bishops and “the initiation and development of policy and strategy in the church”.
Curry, former bishop of North Carolina, is the 27th of the churche presiding bishop and the first African American in that role. He was elected in 2015 to the 78e General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, on a slate of four candidates, and succeeded then-Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the church’s first female presiding bishop.
Jefferts Schori was Bishop of Nevada in 2006 when she was elected 26e presiding bishop. Nine years later, she was 61 when she handed over the reins to Curry, and with more than a decade before the mandatory retirement age, she has remained active in the church. Jefferts Schori served as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of San Diego from 2017-2019. She now serves as bishop visiting the Diocese of Los Angeles.
Curry will be 71 and a few months away from mandatory retirement age when his successor, the 28e Presiding Bishop, is installed in November 2024. He was born on March 13, 1953.
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at [email protected].