The State Journal-Register, Springfield, IL describes the process and possible difficulties ahead for the Diocese of Springfield as they elect a new bishop next week. Will the one elected receive enough consents from the Standing Committees and Bishops of the Episcopal Church?
A week from electing its 11th bishop, the Springfield Episcopal Diocese has drawn a collective deep breath, says the Rev. Christopher “Kip” Ashmore.
“Saturday (following the election), we exhale,” promises the rector of Trinity Church in Jacksonville.
It’s also when a whole new process starts.
Delegates from the diocese’s 38 parishes and clergy members will select a bishop from among three finalists — the Rev. Daniel Martins of Warsaw, Ind.; the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson of Baton Rouge, La.; and the Rev. Matthew Gunter of Glen Ellyn — in a vote Saturday at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.
A majority of U.S. bishops and Standing Committees must consent to the vote, and that’s no sure thing, considering the reputation of the Springfield diocese, according to Ashmore and others.
Martins, in particular, may have difficulty getting consent if he sticks with his conservative views on same-sex unions and gay clergy.
All three candidates were pressed on those issues and others, such as women’s ordination, at three question-and-answer sessions last week in Mount Vernon, Decatur and Alton.
But Ashmore said he doesn’t think any of the candidates — though they follow different movements within the broader Anglican community — poses a threat to leading the diocese out of the Episcopal Church.
Martins voted with the majority in San Joaquin who left the Episcopal Church when he was Rector in that diocese, says he is not planning to leave the Episcopal Church. All three currently oppose marriage equality and ordination of married gay and lesbian clergy. Both Martins and Stevenson have had their doubts about the ordination of women though they accept it now. Gunther has supported the Anglican Covenant but is unsure if he would sign if he becomes bishop. Martins has been affiliated with Communion Partners, who support the Covenant. Stevenson says Katrina was a life-changing event in his faith journey.
Gunter writes at Covenant, a group blog of mainly conservative Episcopalians.
Martins blogs at Confessions of a Carioca
Videos from the walkabout are here.
More information on the nominees and the election is here.
Whoever is elected will have financial and viability concerns to tackle in this tiny diocese with approximately 2000 ASA and 83 clergy (active and retired). The budget, last posted in 2008, was approximately $900,000 with a $64,000 projected deficit.
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