Elections for bishops

It is one of the strange (and perhaps unholy) side-effects of our modeling much of our Church's organization on the US government, that our bishops must, in effect, 'run for office.' Of course, the election of episcopal oversight by the clergy or even the laity has precedents in the ancient Church, which no-doubt also saw its share of election campaigning.

Starting today, the 13th, the Jurisdictions of the United Methodist Church shall begin their meetings at which they will elect new bishops to replace a few retiring bishops. You can follow along here.

I've heard that the last crop of bishops, elected in 04 (we share the same election year as the government as well) really brought a fresh attitude and "shook up" the Council of Bishops somewhat, whose overall leadership and oversight is invaluable to the church. My hope and prayer is that God, by the strange working of the Spirit - even in spite of our democratic processes - should bring to that honored office individuals committed to renewing the theological integrity and unity of the church, and to starting new congregations and reaching those who do not yet believe in Christ as Lord and Savior. And that our new bishops will continue the good work of actively embodying the Kingdom in various ways - especially in continuing our work among the poor and the sick.

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose bishops for the Church, that we may recieve faithful pastors, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

-From The Book of Common Prayer, 1979, p. 818



Blogger Stephen said...

While the concept of "electing" bishops seems strange. I find it to be a sort of middle ground between a one person appointive system (e.g. Pope) and no connectional leadership system whatsoever (e.g. Old Southern Baptist way).

What I detest is the amount of politics involved in the process. The candidate is forced to campaign complete with fliers, mailings, gifts, ads, etc... to get elected. You have to do the right things, say the right things, and go to the right schools(Duke) :). Our own Bishop has talked one time about how he campaigned TWO times FOUR years apart for a full year and didn't get elected either of those times. But you as the Poly Sci person should be use to all that. I can only pray that the delegates prayerfully consider the needs of the church over their own ideals.

10:21 AM, July 17, 2008  

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