Georgia Bishop-Elect: the trick is to stay in the agitated middle

The Rev. Scott Benhase was elected on Saturday at the annual convention of the Diocese of Georgia to serve as its next Bishop. The election, with six candidates, took two ballots.

Assuming a majority of consents in the next 120 days, Benhase's consecration will be held in January.

In the run-up to the election, Benhase was asked to reflect on what helps frame his stance on current matters pertaining to The Episcopal Church's place within the Anglican Communion. He responded, in part,

Like everyone else, we Episcopalians are along for this ride. But we can bring something important to the public square as our culture endures this sea change. And this is where my personal practice of faith guides me. We can live into our common future by being more Elizabethan, that is by helping one another develop a capacity to attend to one another’s differences with a spirit of love (that’s the Anglican Via Media, that Queen Elizabeth helped create). This may be the most important call God is giving us as a Church right now: to stand between the virulent fundamentalists (no matter their religious stripe) and the cultured despisers of religion by witnessing to the reconciling love of Jesus.

I have no illusions about how challenging this is. It will mean that we will have to take seriously what it means to be people grounded in the Gospel. Such a call will have less to do with just trying to be nicer to strangers or more understanding of those who disagree with us. Rather, such a call from God will ask us to wade deep into troubled waters with both friend and stranger.

Comments (2)

We can live into our common future by being more Elizabethan, that is by helping one another develop a capacity to attend to one another’s differences with a spirit of love (that’s the Anglican Via Media, that Queen Elizabeth helped create).

I suspect those at either pole (beyond the Via Media) will retort that "being more Elizabethan" will involve a chopping block? ;-/

JC Fisher

I have a feeling I'm going to really like this bishop.

I do wonder if the problem with the Anglican Communion is that we have not yet figured out how to sustain the Elizabethan settlement without royal supremacy and imperial power. The habit of civility and unity rooted in basic Christianity and Common Prayer is something we can use more of. In a postcolonial age, we need to wonder to what extent that civility was a mask for the domination of the old metropolitan center. We need a Communion based on the Gospel, rather than the shared history, which looks very different depending on whether it is the perspective of the colonizer or the colonized.

I love the bishop-elect's description of a people grounded in the Gospel.

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