Picking a new (Coptic) Pope...and President

The Coptic Church (based in Egypt) has chosen a new patriarch or pope this week.  In the Coptic selection process, the church prepares a "short list" of three candidates and then, in a ceremony at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, a blindfolded boy (believed to be guided by the hand of God), selects one name at random.  For me this is reminiscent of the selection of Matthias to replace Judas in Acts Chapter 1.  I kind of like the way that the process deliberately leaves room for the Holy Spirit to surprise everyone, while the shortlist ensures that wise and prayerful discernment by church leaders is also a part of the process (it is not completely random).  See the video below. 

The Coptic selection process makes an interesting contrast to the process by which the Anglican Communion (based in England) chooses a new Archbishop of Canterbury to lead the communion.  For Anglicans a Crown Nominations Committee meets and selects a first and second choice candidate from among the English bishops whose names are then passed along to the Prime Minister and Queen of England who confirm one of the candidates (the first choice, unless some serious reservations about him arise).  However, the Anglican process is currently bogged down as the committee - divided along progressive/liberal versus traditionalist/evangelical lines - has not been able to agree on two names. 

We United Methodists, on the other hand vote at the local level (Annual Conference) for delegates who vote at a larger Regional level (Jurisdictional Conference) for bishops.  The bishops themselves elect a president of the council of bishops from among their own number.  There have been proposals for elevating the president-bishop of the United Methodist Church to a more prominent position that would be elected by General Conference.

Speaking of picking leaders and speaking of bishops there are a couple of significant things happening this week: A Presidential election here in a sharply divided and uncertain USA and a also meeting of The United Methodist Bishops - the first such meeting since new bishops were elected this summer and since some bishops have called upon liberal clergy to disregard the Discipline of our Church where they disagree with it.  Many of us hope the bishops will address this potential crisis.

Given the big issues of these days and the great need out nation and our churches have for good leadership in troubled times, let us pray for wisdom for our nation's voters, for our current leaders, and for our church's bishops (and, indeed, for the Crown Nominations Committee). 

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Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

UPDATE: You no doubt heard the results of the presidential election.

The Crown Nominations Committee also reached a decision today:

Justin Welby, a low-church and relatively evangelical (who apparently favors "modernizing" worship services) will be the new Archbishop of Canterbury; at first brush he appears the polar opposite of Liberal Catholic Rowan Williams.

10:25 PM, November 07, 2012  

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