Skip to comments.Convention Could Lose Right to Consent to Episcopal Elections
Posted on 05/04/2006 12:39:46 PM PDT by sionnsar
The House of Deputies would lose the right to give consent to episcopal elections that occur within 120 days of General Convention under one of several proposed changes to Canon III, the canons on ministry, which also describe the ordination process and the election of bishops.
There is very little that is revolutionary this time around," said the Rt. Rev. Keith B. Whitmore, Bishop of Eau Claire and a member of the Standing Commission on Ministry Development. Last time [in 2003] we redefined the nature of ministry itself. It is about the community calling people out. We are finishing that work.
Bishop Whitmore told The Living Church that the majority of changes proposed for the 75th General Convention are canonical attempts to standardize the ordination process for deacons and priests. One proposed resolution would encourage all dioceses to permit deacons to participate in Church governance such as diocesan conventions and bishop elections. The practice currently varies widely.
All of the changes proposed by the standing committee are canonical with the exception of one which would require that all episcopal consents be obtained in the same manner. Constitutional changes require the approval of two successive General Conventions. The timing of this proposal is unfortunate, said Bishop Whitmore, who emphasized that it was in no way a reaction to the decision by the 74th General Convention to give consent to the election of a coadjutor in New Hampshire. The consent proposal was part of a larger series of changes first envisioned before 2003, he said.
Historically, consents to all episcopal elections were made by General Convention, said the Rt. Rev. Jim Kelsey, Bishop of Northern Michigan and a member of the Standing Committee on Ministry. As the Episcopal Church began to expand westward, consents by standing committees and bishops became an acceptable alternative. Gradually it became the method used in the overwhelming majority of instances, leaving a relatively small number of dioceses to be treated differently.
It seems fair and appropriate that all consents be considered the same way, Bishop Kelsey told The Living Church. To put an undue focus on one or two is a warping of the norm.
Bishop Whitmore admitted that more efficient ways need to be found to obtain consent by bishops and standing committees. Those concerns are relatively easily solved either by employing new technology or by requiring a response within a certain time, he said, but he added that a common understanding of what is being consented to will probably remain elusive for at least a while longer.
There is no real definition of what is going on when a consent is given, he said, explaining that some dioceses determine consent based on whether the election has been conducted according to the canons. Others interpret impediment to ministry to include doctrinal considerations as well.
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