Posts Tagged ‘Presiding Bishop’


Monday, August 18th, 2014

The Nominating Committee charged with selecting candidates for the election of a Presiding Bishop next summer has just issued its list of qualities desired in their ideal candidate.

Like the secular political scene, the Episcopal Church arena is filled with predictable statements. Is anyone surprised that the committee wants a Presiding Bishop who has an “authentic” spiritual life–as opposed to inauthentic? Is anyone surprised that the new PB will love diversity and want to make us even more diverse? (My own prediction is that the next PB will be a person of color–the first. My choice right now would be the Bishop of North Carolina.)

Of course, as I noted in a previous post, if the current PB decides to run for a second term, all bets are off. Given the current gentility of the House of Bishops, it’s doubtful anyone would dare to run against her.

Meanwhile, membership in the church continues to decline and the only contribution the national bureaucracy seems to make to the life of the church is a steady stream of predictable pronouncements on selected political issues. —J. Douglas Ousley

Less Democracy–More Women Leaders?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

The General Synod of the Church of England , after years of debate and failed motions, yesterday passed the final resolution that will allow for the appointment of women bishops. There was cheering and considerable relief, as conservative Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals voted for legislation that they felt would preserve their freedom to remain separate from the female episcopacy.

Note that I said, “appointment.” In the Church of England, bishops, cathedral deans and canons, and archdeacons are chosen by other bishops or the Prime Minister. There is nothing like the diocesan election system in place in the U.S.

Interestingly, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church was recently in England, and she was asked about the coming Synod vote. She ventured the opinion that women leadership might advance more rapidly than it has in this country because women could be chosen by a few hierarchs, rather than by various large conventions.

Does this mean that ordinary laypeople and priests are anti-feminist and reactionary? I would hope not. In any case, the next few years in England will certainly be years of change. —J. Douglas Ousley

So Help Us God

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

To no fanfare and precious little interest even among careful observers of national church politics, the Joint Nominating Committee has presented its first “essay” regarding the upcoming election of a new Presiding Bishop.

The essay doesn’t say much except present a timeline for the nominating process. The real issues will be in the descriptions of the qualities of the ideal PB–and even these could probably be written today: “loves God, strives for peace and justice, nurtures diversity, strong leader” etc.

The only underground gossip seems to surround whether the current Presiding Bishop might seek an unprecedented second nine-year term, as apparently she will be just young enough to do. If she says definitively that she will not run, then expect candidates to come out of the woodwork. If she does run, then there will be lots of interest, because even her biggest supporters are disappointed in the decline of the church in the past eight years of her leadership. —J. Douglas Ousley


Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

In response to my last post, someone asked me if the President of the House of Deputies was involved in some kind of power struggle. That is, indeed, the rumor and the concern.

The President now has her own web site (interestingly, the Episcopal Church web site doesn’t link to this site, at least as far as I can tell.) And in a recent post, Bonnie Anderson referred to herself as reigning at the top of the church hierarchy from her office in Michigan, along with the Presiding Bishop at her office at 815 Second Avenue, New York City.

Now, 815 Second Avenue has been recognized as the “National Church” headquarters for quite some time; not so, “Christ Church, Michigan.” As a pyramid only has one true highest point, we might wish that our hierarchy retain its traditional single shepherd, The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.–J. Douglas Ousley


Monday, April 16th, 2012

Several times, I have noted the ambitions of the President of the House of Deputies of General Convention, Bonnie Anderson. (She is sometimes referred to as “Canon” or “Dr.” Anderson, reflecting an honorary canon’s title or her honorary doctorate from some seminary. It should be noted, however, that she has had no formal seminary training or theological education.)

Some bishops are concerned that Ms. Anderson is leading a campaign equal rights for laity that will stir controversy at this summer’s General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Since “Episcopal” refers to our leadership by bishops who are the successors of the apostles, it is by no means clear that this campaign is orthodox. And given that Ms. Anderson and the current Presiding Bishop seem to agree on almost every issue facing the church, it is not clear that the church would benefit by having two chiefs rather than one.

I note however that recent press releases from church headquarters refer to Bonnie Anderson as PHOD–President of the House of Deputies, like the Secret Service nickname for the President of the United States, POTUS. In my view, “PHOD” reflects a delusion of grandeur that is as dangerous as it is unwarranted. —J. Douglas Ousley

Bishops v. Priests/laity

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

I recently heard a speech by a prominent observer of the Episcopal Church about the upcoming General Convention. He feared that a major issue at that convention would be a political battle between the two “Houses:” the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies. The former consists of all bishops of the church who have shown up, including retirees; the latter consists of clergy and lay delegates elected by each diocese.

There are many perennial disagreements between the two groups. For example, the Bishops have been trying for years to reduce the size of each diocesan delegation from 8 members. (Often 8 alternates are also flown to the meeting; this is the case for New York, for example.) Delegates, fearing they may not get re-elected balk at this reform.

Apparently the biggest current issue, however, is the wish of the President of the House of Deputies to be able to speak on equal footing with the Presiding Bishop. For some, this is a matter of “justice”–giving equal weight especially to the laity.

I have often expressed my exasperation with the current President of the House of the Deputies. But even without such feelings, I am amazed that anyone in an “episcopal” (= “having bishops”) church would feel the need to counter the weight of the primate of the whole church. No doubt this issue will need to be considered again. —J. Douglas Ousley

Member of the Administration?

Monday, February 7th, 2011

A press release from Episcopal Church headquarters recently announced that the Presiding Bishop had “joined the Obama administration.” The phrase not be well-chosen, since the Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori is merely serving on an advisory panel with a number of other religious leaders, including the head of the conservative National Association of Evangelicals. She might well have served a similar panel under George W. Bush; in that case, I doubt that she would have wanted to be considered a member of his administration. But perhaps I am looking for political bias that doesn’t exist. —J. Douglas Ousley