The Episcopal Church is struggling to redefine its order and mission in the face of rapidly declining membership amid a radically changing civil society. The role of bishops has always been central to our church ”” hence our church’s name ”” but this role is now itself a part of the struggle for the Episcopal Church’s faithful mission. What are bishops for? To what are they accountable? How should they engage in the oversight (episcope) of the Church and what role should they have in her councils and decision-making? General Convention is only one place, if a key one, where these questions arise. Without addressing particular issues before Convention that involve our bishops ”” their constitutional responsibilities, doctrinal authority, discipline, and role in the Communion ”” let me suggest, in the form of several theses, some foundational elements that ought to inform our church’s understanding of her bishops.
1. The full description of the episcopal office is given in the Holy Scriptures’ description of Jesus Christ. This is because this full description of Jesus Christ is the figure that the episcopal office represents (1 Pet. 2:25).
2. The office of the bishop is properly understood only within the contours of the whole Scriptures, for it is all the Scriptures that coherently describe Christ Jesus….