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Bishop Shand resigning, not calling for election yet

Bishop Shand resigning, not calling for election yet

Bishop James J. Shand, Bishop of Easton, is resigning but is not calling for an election yet:

On October 17 at a meeting of the Standing Committee, I submitted my resignation as the Tenth Bishop of Easton, effective July 1, 2014. All six members of the committee were present, as was the Rt. Rev. Clayton F. Matthews, from the House of Bishops Office for Pastoral Development.

In announcing my resignation, I am not calling for the election of the Eleventh Bishop of Easton. Instead, I am suggesting that we call for the election of a Provisional Bishop who might serve for a yet-to-be determined period of time – a year, eighteen months, two years. Now, you may ask, why?

It is my belief, and the belief of the Standing Committee, that the Diocese of Easton would benefit from a period of discernment, questioning, and self-study before moving into the lengthy process of a search. This could be a chance for us to re-examine the office of Bishop as well as the question I frequently hear, “What exactly is a diocese?” Having a period of time under a Provisional Bishop would allow us the opportunity to catch our breath and examine these questions and not be hurried into making a decision. In the midst of a changing Church, we do not have to be locked into doing things the same old way; perhaps new times require new and creative approaches.

The Standing Committee has canonical responsibility for the pastoral oversight of the diocese. Diocesan Council is responsible for the programmatic and fiscal aspects of diocesan life. These two groups are working together to begin the process and will continue to do so as we move forward.

Read his entire letter on The Diocese of Easton website.


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Padre Michael

Question: He’s calling for the election of a bishop to serve a very short period of time. Elections can be (though don’t have to be) expensive and anxiety-producing. I wonder if it’s possible to appoint a provisional bishop acceptable to the Standing Committee? What are the options?

Michael Rich

Marshall Scott

Michael, I think you’re correct. That is, after the Bishop has officially retired, the Standing Committee would be the appropriate Ecclesiastical Authority, and could call for an election. That said, his letter states that the current Standing Committee agrees with him; so that seems unlikely.

I think one could make a geographic and perhaps a cultural case for a Diocese of DelMarVa (as the tourism types sometimes style it). I also think there might be some thought (can’t say whether wise or not) that this would also take the Diocese past the 2015 General Convention and any changes that may come from Task Force on Reorganizing the Church or from the Standing Commission on Structure.

In any case, this does seem a recommendation not to act in haste or anxiety; and that may well be a good thing.

I’m wondering – based on the above comments – if it’s possible a merger with the Diocese of Delaware might be on the table. Makes more geographical sense.

–Brett Remkus Britt

Michael Russell

Can a resigning Bishop dictate how the interim time should be used? Unless there is something really wrong, why not just start the search after he retires?

John B. Chilton

My curiosity is aroused by the three or so Episcopal churches on the Eastern Shore that are in the state of Virginia. Wikipedia says they are covered by the Diocese of Virginia or Southern Virginia. But I wonder. Given today’s modes of transport it’s easier for the bishop of Easton to serve them.

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