by Ann Turner
I understand it is not uncommon to find yourself, as a newly ordained cleric, being scooped up for various tasks at the diocesan level. The autumn after my ordination to the priesthood saw a few invitations coming my way. Yet something made me hesitate. When the phone call came inviting me to sit on the Electoral Synod Nominations and Planning Committee, I realized what I had been waiting for!
I cannot say, however, that I bargained for becoming chair of the committee. Still, it turned into a wonderful and interesting challenge for me. I enjoyed the great variety of tasks and activities it called forth. Fortunately, for me and our diocese, the committee was comprised of a creative, articulate, passionate group of people. They shared my commitment to making the process of searching for and electing a new bishop one that would be fair, considerate to those nominated, and open and transparent.
I believe it was a well-met challenge to draw up the process through which the diocese could be introduced to those who had let their names stand for this important role. We crafted the questions for the profiles; we thought through the concept for the videos; we considered and rejected more than a few ideas; and we decided on the format for the meet and greet events. We also responded to an emerging desire to ask additional questions. With the candidates’ consent, we added to the process by asking six submitted questions.
Amidst all of the activity with the candidates, there was also a synod to plan. Fortunately, there were those who had much more experience in this kind of planning than me; Mary Anne Grant and Marni Nancekivell (Secretary of Synod) ploughed through those details!
The learning curve was steep at times. As a committee we learned to meet in an electronic meeting room, saving mileage and travel time. I am also proud to say we are all now very well-versed in election canons, clicker technology, and how to read quotes both for catering and technology resources.
Through it all, we left our mark on the internet highway. For instance, scheduling events in three regions at three large churches, with seven candidates (all active far beyond their primary ministries) and the committee — simultaneously — made for volumes of correspondence.
The experience of working on and at this episcopal election was a blessing and I feel privileged to have been part of this rare opportunity to serve in this way. From this task I will carry with me the wonderful level of engagement shown by our whole diocese in this discernment process. I met and heard from people across our diocese who are deeply invested in a broad cross section of ministries: from those who cherish our liturgy and the spectrum of practice and belief here in Niagara, from youth ministry, from deacons, from activists and advocates, from Cursillo, from Indigenous leaders, and from those in ministries both rural and urban. The pleasure has been mine to acquaint and re-acquaint myself with the reasons I choose to answer my call in the Diocese of Niagara.
Lastly, I want to count my name among those welcoming Susan Bell as our Coadjutor Bishop. I also offer special thanks the committee: Claire Christoff, Robert Morrow, Pat Davis, Peter Wall, Mary Anne Grant, Marni Nancekivell, Greg Tweeny; and on-call ‘experts,’ Alison D’Atri and Bill Mous.