On Saturday, March 3, 2018, over 200 youth, men and women will gather in Christ’s Church Cathedral Hamilton to elect Niagara’s Coadjutor Bishop.
This will be another step in the historic journey of selecting religious leaders, reaching back to Jesus’ days and earlier.
After deciding what talents his disciples should have, Jesus chose those individuals best suited to tackle the mission and challenges facing the fledgling Christian Church. He then approached them individually to follow him.
Throughout history, bishops have been selected by political appointments, power squabbling or democratic elections.
I recall the many episcopal elections in which I have voted — some lasting mere minutes, others going late into the evening after a long exhausting day.
At one election the priest, delivering the homily while ballots were being counted, suggested we put aside our differences and support a particular candidate. He then prayed and the individual was elected bishop on the next ballot. “More things are wrought by prayer …”
During another episcopal election the Diocesan Chancellor, a high-ranking influential politician, entered the room where refreshments were being served, and declared, “This election is so civilized, not like our political party leadership conventions where anything goes … maybe we politicians can learn something from the church after all.” We laughed boisterously at the spoken truth.
At our November Synod, delegates were asked, “What are two characteristics or qualities the next Bishop should have to lead Niagara Diocese in its mission for the next decade?”
Delegates attending our upcoming Electoral Synod need to ponder the same question.
For guidance they can search the writings of the early church.
As the diocesan web page (niagaraanglican.ca/election) rightly points out, “From its earliest days, the Church has been called by God to select an overseer and pastor to both lead and protect the Body of Christ.”
It recommends three New Testament writings (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, Acts 20:28) dealing with characteristics or qualities required by church leaders. Interestingly, the King James Bible uses the term bishops, whereas contemporary translations call them leaders, elders or shepherds.
After we have stripped aside gender, cultural and geographical predispositions shrouding these passages, we can focus more clearly on the essence of church leadership, ordained or lay. These qualities include: holding firmly to the gospel message, having a mature faith, performing excellent work, welcoming strangers, encouraging, respecting and watching over all people, as well as living loving peaceful lives.
So far seven individuals have responded to the call to place their names as candidates.
Each must be at least 30 years old, ordained for seven years and a priest in good standing regarding the doctrine and discipline of the Anglican Church of Canada.
In addition to biographical information, the Electoral Synod Nominations and Planning Committee posed four questions to each candidate. “We really sought to highlight their leadership style and experience while also inviting our candidates to reflect about future directions and priorities for our diocese given our current reality,” explained Committee Chair the Reverend Ann Turner.
In this Niagara Anglican, we present a short introduction based on information each candidate supplied the Committee. The candidates’ responses to the Committee’s questions are reproduced verbatim.
These candidate introductions are published here tomorrow.
What can you do?
You can read and think about the candidates and talk with others;
You can discuss or suggest your choice with your parish Synod delegates — in this way everyone becomes involved in the process, and;
You can pray, using the prayer on page one or your own words.
Let us wrap our candidates for Coadjutor Bishop in the warm comfort and security of our prayers and support.