Saturday, March 16, 2013

Electing a Pope, Electing a Bishop

Our synod will elect a Bishop in 7 weeks.  Like Pope Benedict, our bishop, Bishop Beneway is stepping down.  Well, it's not like Pope Benedict, exactly.  Bishop Beneway has served 2 terms; each term is 6 years.  He could have run for a third term.  At our Synod Assembly last year, he told us he would not run again.

Our Synod Assembly will do little else this year than the election.  Some years, we have lots of workshops.  Some years, we have lots of legislative tasks.  This year, we elect the Bishop.

At least we're all spending all this money to do a task which might turn out to be very important.  It might not.  But at least it's not like years when we had legislation that said that we did not approve of bullying and that we supported children who have been bullied.  And then, we had to hear about 20 people speak in support of the legislation.

It will not surprise you to learn that not a single person spoke against the legislation:  no one spoke in favor of bullies or against victims.  That year, we just didn't do much of note.  So each delegate spent money to travel, money to register, money to stay in a hotel, money for food--and to do what?

Yes, it's good to be together as a group.  Yes, it's impossible to predict what kind of synergestic connections might take place that wouldn't happen otherwise.  But my stars, it's a lot of money!

Today, small groups across the Florida-Bahamas Synod will meet to discuss this election of the Bishop.  I'm not sure what to expect.  I've never been part of the process that elects a Bishop before.

I'd like to see in a Bishop the same things I'd like to see in a Pope.  I'd like to see someone with a younger mindset, whether they're younger or not.  I'd like to see someone who has done a lot of thinking about the purpose of the church in the world.  I don't want someone who has gotten stuck in mourning the past.  I'd like to see a person of vision and inspiration--and with specific plans to get us to a different point.

I'll be honest.  I'd like a woman.  I'd like someone younger than 50.  Dare I hope for a person of color?  I'm tired of seeing older, white men at the head of institutions.  I realize the bias in my words, but there it is.

As I think back to former Synod Assemblies, I realize that I've narrowed the slate down to about 5 people, if I insist on all 3:  woman, younger than 50, non-Caucasian.  If I give up one of those categories, I still don't have a lot of choices in my Synod.  We're a Synod that skews older, and we're in a denomination that skews older and whiter.  And we still haven't done a fabulous job, churchwide, in promoting the few people of color and the women who become ordained.

Yes, I understand the obstacles.  I understand that people might not want to be promoted.  Very few people go to seminary hoping to become a Bishop--and that, in itself, is an interesting statement.

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