As we celebrate the ministry of Bishop Klusmeyer and prepare for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor in September, some parishioners may be wondering how to select a Bishop. After all, Bishop Klusmeyer has been our Bishop for almost 20 years. It may be hard to imagine anyone else in the role. Those who are delegates and tasked with helping to elect the Coadjutor may be wondering how to make this decision.
First, it is helpful to remember that – like calling a rector – electing a Bishop is about discernment. It’s not like hiring someone to do a job. It’s about listening to the Holy Spirit and getting a sense of where God might be calling our Diocese in the future.
There is a job description for the office of Bishop. One way to begin the discernment process might be to read through it and imagine how the various candidates might carry out the tasks.
During the ordination service, the Bishop-elect is reminded that s/he is:
“A bishop in
God's holy Church is called to be one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ's resurrection and interpreting the Gospel, and to testify to Christ's sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings.
You are called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church; to celebrate and to provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant; to ordain priests and deacons and to join in ordaining bishops; and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ.
With your fellow bishops you will share in the leadership of the Church throughout the world. Your heritage is the faith of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked to God in hope. Your joy will be to follow him who came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
What does all this mean in practice? How does this help us to discern among the candidates?
First, the office of Bishop is very diverse. A Bishop is called to be a pastor, leader, listener, friend, disciplinarian, guide, judge and more.
Below are some examples of how Bishops do these various things. Of course, every bishop does things differently and focus their attention differently. As you discern who might be called to be the Bishop Coadjutor, it would be helpful to think about how the various candidates might live out these various ministries:
All of the candidates have committed to doing these things. However, each would bring different skills tothe office, different experiences and expertise, and different passions and priorities. They also may beginother initiatives beyond these to build and strengthen the Church in West Virginia. As you read throughthe bios and other information about the candidates, let the Holy Spirit guide you into considering howeach of their gifts might further the work of the Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia.