Quarter Million Dollar Bishop

At the annual Convention of the Diocese of New York on November 13, the Bishop of New York announced that he was calling for his successor of “co-adjutor” to be elected at a special convention on October 29, 2011. The Rt. Rev. Mark S. Sisk has served in New York since 1998, he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 72 in 2014.

Subsequent to this announcement, the delegates voted that an extra $250,000 be added to the budget to pay for this election. It was not clear to me why so much money was needed; I assume it is to cover travel costs for the search committee to visit candidates and to pay for videos of final nominees and their travel to New York.

Popular election of bishops is an important part of the American system and, I believe, there is much to be said for it. Our leaders are often drawn from a much wider pool of candidates than those of other Anglican churches and laypeople and clergy are more attached to them because they have been involved in their selection. (For example, our Annual Meeting in January will elect Incarnation’s delegates to the Convention that chooses the new Bishop of New York. So all of us can have a part in the process.)

On the other hand, the quarter-million dollar expense is indicative of the increasing complication of the selection process. If less money were available, nominees would have to come from nearer New York City–thus making things simpler while still allowing for thousands of candidates to be available. It is not clear that the price is right. —J. Douglas Ousley

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