In Chicago, Episcopalians grill bishop candidates

They shared personal tragedies, called on the church to defend the downtrodden and the marginalized, and defended their own answers to God’s calling.

Eight finalists for the next Episcopal bishop of Chicago tackled immigration, stewardship, gentrification and the full inclusion of gays and lesbians during a tour of the diocese that ended Sunday.

Traditionally called a walkabout, the tour gave parishioners their only opportunity to grill the diverse slate of candidates before the election at the annual diocesan convention in Wheeling Nov. 10. The new bishop will succeed Bishop William Persell, who has led the diocese since 1999.

With two Africans and three women, including a lesbian, the slate reflects the changing face of the church. It also includes two local priests, indicating that some parishioners want a bishop who they believe already grasps their needs.

But in a diocese that includes 126 parishes in the city, suburbs and rural regions as far west as Galena, even the local contenders learned that the needs vary and that it was virtually impossible to have all the right answers.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops

19 comments on “In Chicago, Episcopalians grill bishop candidates

  1. Bernini says:

    “With two Africans and three women…”

    Well, bully for diversity. Do any of them possess theological qualifications beyond their ethnic/gender/sexual orientation status?

    Cynically yours…

  2. Philip Snyder says:

    How about: “What will you do, as Bishop, to continue in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship? If it comes to a split between the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church, USA; will you choose to be schismatic or to continue in the fellowship of Christ’s one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church?

    Phil Snyder

  3. The_Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    I don’t know most of them, but Robert Koomson, who was the chaplain at Seabury when I was there, is one of the most wonderfully qualified men I can think of. He is the most loving and spiritually solid man I think I have ever met in my life.

  4. azusa says:

    Africans, eh? Those Nigerians/Ugandans/Rwandans up to their old tricks again …

  5. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Yes, Gordian, Chicago is very much more inclusive than given credit for these days if they have actual AFRICAN nominees for bishop. I suspect that is an error on the reporters part because the last error I can imagine the Nominating Committee of this Diocese doing is closing the door to pluriform diverse truth!

  6. Stuart Smith says:

    Am I the only one a bit uncomfortable with the reason given for one candidate as a “front-runner” was his sharing of a deeply personal internal experience of God? My guess (hope?) is that he is also someone whose leadership and discipleship record is strong. We clergy sometimes need to watch out for the imbalance of rhetoric (using words to affect others’ emotions) over reason (using words to articulate thought and convince with expressed meanings). I would hope that the good people of the DioChicago will not be led by their feelings alone.

  7. Piedmont says:

    [blockquote]Episcopalians grill bishop candidates[/blockquote]The money saved by not hiring the caterers to do the cooking will go to the MDG’s. 🙂

  8. midwestnorwegian says:

    “The changing face of the church”
    Read: these changes are unstopable and inevitable.
    “understands some people may be in a different place on that path” – Read: no question…it is the same path with the same destination as those who are further along
    And Direct quotes from EVERYONE, except: “parishoners say the sexuality of their next bishop is the last thing on their minds” – WHICH “parishoners”?
    And…HOW MANY said so?
    Guess what….the sexuality of the next bishop is the FIRST thing on the minds of a great many of those on boths sides of the issue. Period.

  9. TonyinCNY says:

    Unstopable? I don’t believe that God likes to hear those kinds of things said by His creatures.

  10. Mike Bertaut says:

    Feeling? Positions? Experience? Good Intentions? Unstoppable Changes? Give me a BREAK! Chicago, please listen, you deserve BETTER than this….

    How about some real qualifications?

    “THIS is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”

    And of Course….

    “Are you ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away from the Church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word; and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to the same?”

    (Both From Form of Ordaining or Consecrating a Bishop, BCP 1928)

    Now THIS is what I call a Litmus Test. How about it? Any Takers?


  11. Ed the Roman says:

    “Noli episcopari” is a qualification often overlooked.

  12. Catharine Phillips says:

    At the risk of being heaped with hot coals… here goes…
    I am a clerical member of the Diocese of Chicago and attended one of the walkabouts. My hope has been renewed in that I could see how and why the search committee had chosen the slate they did. There is an incredible amount of faith and holiness and leadership in all the candidates.
    Please keep us in prayer for our discernment and election on November 10th. Thank you!

  13. Mike Bertaut says:

    # 12 Catharine,
    Faith and Holiness are critical to the Episcopate, especially in these times, so I am happy to hear your faith was renewed. I will certainly pray for you all, and your discernment, and your welfare under whoever comes to lead you.

    Challenge them. Do not settle for what you want to hear. Imbed your faith upon your heart and force them to stand up to it. Do not accept platitudes when clarity and strength are required. Test them in the real fire of God’s Light, and see if they can stand up to Salvific Wisdom. If they cannot, send them along.

    Only then will you know the truth.


  14. Gary M T says:

    # 12. Catharine Phillips:
    What do you mean when you write faith, holiness, and leadership? I have seen those terms used describing the Buddhu, Mohammed, ++ Schori, ++ Akinola, and others – and the terms were used by Episcopalian clergy.

  15. Catharine Phillips says:

    #13 Mike: Thank you for your prayers and counsel. The discernment is continuing (even though the local newspaper seems to wish to declare “frontrunners”) The growing conversation among members of the diocese is fruitful, I believe, and yet another source of hope.
    #14 Gary: All are clear disciples of Jesus Christ, with greater and lesser discernible gifts needed to be bishop in this place. This said, I have no idea whether my criteria will meet yours, or perhaps more to the point, whether what I see as clear discipleship would be named the same by others reading here. I see what I have been given to see, and name what I have been given to name. I do it under the blood of Jesus.

  16. Cabbages says:

    Catherine writes: “This said, I have no idea whether my criteria will meet yours, or perhaps more to the point, whether what I see as clear discipleship would be named the same by others reading here.”

    I’m sorry if it sounds like my back is up a little below, but your initial post that you thought you were risking “hot coals” in posting here and then hedging that you might share a different conception of “discipleship” begs the following…

    Well, you could shed a little light if you’d care to. Are you a stickler for that whole actually believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the sole path to salvation thing that orthodox Christians get so hung up on?
    Is Christianity “True”? Is it superior to Islam? Hinduism? Secular Humanism? Atheism? Or are all equally valid paths on the journey of self-discovery? Does the bible provide a guide for Christian life or is it to be discarded where it fails to live up to the high standards of contemporary morality?
    Is it sufficient that a Christian bishop exude “holiness”, whatever that is, if they otherwise deny the Virgin Birth, the Trinity, or even theism itself?

    You came here to engage, apparently, and I for one would be interested to know where you are coming from so that I can evaluate whether your evaluation of the candidates has any probative value.

    In addition you mention that you are a “clerical member”. Out of curiosity, when (or if) you recite the creed in church, do you actually believe it (giving the words of the creed the meaning that they’ve held for Christians for the past 2000 years)? If not, do you feel like you owe it to your parishioners to state explicitly where you deviate from orthodoxy?

  17. Larry Morse says:

    #10 Mike. Ha ha ha ha fat chance. Any takers? LOLL. Larry

  18. Catharine Phillips says:

    #16 Cabbages (interesting moniker, that):
    I believe in the creeds (Nicene and Apostles) without crossing my fingers behind my back. I left parish ministry at the end of July in part because of a call to pray for the whole church and listen fully and speak when it seems I am called to speak (and I was unable to do this and serve as a parish priest as well) and in part to prepare for a degree in clinical psych. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the sole path to salvation. Yes, the true path. May God be found on other paths? Yes, probably. Will God make the final determination? Yes, as well.
    I am troubled by what seems disdain in your questioning which does make it difficult for me to answer, not because of any lack of belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior on my part or as Savior for the whole world, but because of the seeming implication that, rather than an invitation to conversation, I am being asked to somehow prove orthodoxy. Perhaps you’re right that I asked for it by being tentative. I sense there is little I can offer here that will be helpful.
    I do ask for your prayers for our election in Chicago, regardless of whether I have convinced anyone of anyone’s orthodoxy, including my own. May we know the presence of the Spirit and be fully attentive to it.

  19. RevK says:

    What side dishes go well with grilled bishop candidate?