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Dio Dallas elects a new bishop

Dio Dallas elects a new bishop

The Revd Canon Dr. George Sumner has been elected as the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. He was elected on the fourth ballot of a Special Convention of the diocese to elect a bishop Saturday, 16 MAY 2015 at the Episcopal School of Dallas.

To be elected the candidate needed to receive a simple majority from both houses of the convention. There were four candidates for bishop, also including the Rev. Mike Michie, the Rev. David Read and the Rev. Leigh Spruill.

The Revd Sumner currently serves as the Principal and Helliwell Professor of World Mission at Wycliff College in Toronto, Canada. The bishop-elect holds a BA from Harvard College, an MDiv from Yale Divinity and a PhD in Systematic Theology with an emphasis in missiology from Yale University. He has taught classes at Wycliff College in systematic theology, mission and doctoral seminars in hamartiology and the theology of german theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg.

Dr Sumner’s major writings include; The First and the Last: the Claim of Jesus Christ and the Claims of Other Religious Traditions (2004), Unwearied Praises (2005) (co-author), Being Salt: A Theology of an Ordered Church (2007) and Daniel, a Commentary in the Brazos Series (2012).

“I am humbled and grateful to God for my election,” Sumner said. “It will be a great privilege to share in the ministry Christ has given us all together in the Diocese of Dallas. I would like to express my appreciation for my fellow candidates and the remarkable transition team. I ask for your prayers and help in the days to come.”

Pending Dr Sumner receiving the consent of a majority of bishops and diocesan Standing Committees, the diocese intends for the bishop-elect’s consecration to be held 14 NOV 2015.

The bishop-elect is married to Stephanie and has two young adult children.

To learn more about the bishop-elect, his biography lingers in the Way Back Machine here. And you can read information about all four candidates here.

Information for this story was gathered from the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas website and the Wycliff College website.

The photo is from the Diocese of Dallas website

Posted by David Allen.


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Professor Christopher Seitz

Perhaps. We shall see. The consents process will take at least 90 days and will run over beyond the GC actions.

Moderated – ed

Carolyn Peet

Professor Seitz, that sounds like a major sea change. The Bishop has always been the supreme and final authority in a Diocese. They will now simply be Vice-Presidents, or Division Managers? I would be amazed to see that happen.

Marshall Scott

Fr. Will, I expect Bishop-elect Sumner will be confirmed. While he may hold positions on some issues that are in the minority, the Episcopal Church has a long history of trusting the process and of trusting the Spirit in the electing convention.

Rod Gillis

Previously in this thread Wesley Evans writes, “The only basis for transcendent religious values is Revelation.” The supreme value is God, justice is a characteristic of God, of the kingdom of God, and ought to be the basis of the church’s social theology; but Wesley, beyond that, I would say your statement is flawed by both overstatement and oversimplification. For one thing, it is important to distinguish between revelation and scripture. Scripture contains both revelation and a response to revelation. Responses to revelation and the beliefs grounded in the same, even those enshrined in the biblical text, may be imperfect, flawed, culturally conditioned, even erroneous. Arriving at a values judgement in the ethical sphere requires insight into the human condition. New or more complete information about any aspect of the human condition requires a re-evaluation of the application of values. Moral views based on biblical proof texts confuse abstraction with transcendence. It also results in a double whammy. One of the failures of a theology based primarily on proof texts is its inability to construct an ethical response to issues that were not encountered within the horizon of the biblical writers. I would just add that justice as a transcendent value is consonant with but not exclusive to scripture.

Wesley Evans

I agree that on a more metaphysical level God is the ultimate value. As I said, he is the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. So yes justice is part of him. Where we disagree is more epistemology. How do we know what is “just”? If something is immoral, then to deny it of a person cannot be unjust. On the other hand I would have to concede that if an action is either moral or neutral, then to deny it would be an issue of justice.I’m curious as to what you mean when you say “proof texts”, particularly as I have yet to quote any scripture at all! To me that phrase means taking a passage out of it’s grammatical and literary context and using it in a way never intended. If that is what you mean then we agree, it would be an abuse of scripture.The issue is going to be my disagreement with the statement that beliefs enshrined in the biblical text may be “imperfect, flawed, even erroneous”. Of course the text is culturally conditioned as are all forms of communication in all ages. Exegesis comes from using culture as part of the hermeneutical process, but what we derive on the other side of that process I take as authoritative for the intention behind the passage. The way we create a moral code for issues not address is by abstracting biblical principals. Though transcendence and abstraction may not be the same thing, I fail to see how a transcendent value cannot be somewhat abstract. If something is overly contextual it would be non-transcendent by definition.But, granting your premise that parts of the Scriptures which are authoritative revelation must be gleaned from parts that are not, how does your view create any transcendent authority? The parts you may believe are erroneous, I will easily believe are true and vice versa. Taking the human condition into account is fine, but why ascribe a level of infallibility to it? The entirety of the human experience could be just as erroneous. For all we know we are experiencing on small slice of culture and time with a very brief set of values that are just as culturally conditioned as anything in the biblical text. It would be interesting if 1000 years from now even something as cherished as “modern” secular democracy is considered a cultural fad of our particular era, or if there is a new scientific revolution that looks on us with the same sense of superiority with which we look on our forebears.Particularly when the issue is at core “is this thing X consonant with scripture?” We would need some objective method of determining that. However if I can judge a particular passage wrong because it conflicts with that thing X, then in what way could scripture even begin act as an authority over this process? And if it can’t then to talk about “consonant with scripture” seems unhelpful from the start. For instance, in this particular case my argument would be that homosexual marriage is not consonant with scripture. So if justice must be consonant then under your own paradigm there is still a problem if my exegesis is correct.I would actually not go so far as to say transcendent values derive from sources outside of revelation, given my epistemological objections above. The human condition would inform the way I approach a pastoral application but not create the principals themselves. Sociology is descriptive not prescriptive. It is a valuable tool for pastoral theology certainly but I would not create a transcendent principle based upon it.

Wesley Evans

It appears my paragraphs did not copy over, apologies for my response looking like a long winded diatribe!

You have referenced some theologians I’m unfamiliar with concerning our main difference. I’ll have to do some thinking about the proposed distinction between abstraction and transcendence as our discussion took a turn I’m unfamiliar with.

It’s nice to get to the core of the issue of how we do theology! It has seemed this debate is more about method and the use of scripture then about sex.

Rod Gillis

Thanks Wesley Evans. Debating theological issues on a blog site is akin to debating public policy with sound bites or media spots. Limitations are inherent. So if i may, a reply to just one pivotal issue you raise, “we create a moral code … by abstracting biblical principals”. Everything else kind of revolves around our differing views on this point. Creating abstract deontological principles by wringing them out of peculiar situations or enigmatic passages is highly problematic. Transcendent notions are something of the opposite of abstractions in that they are concrete (Bernard Lonergan). Transcendent values, by contrast with abstractions, may be apprehended from a wide range of concrete situations. God’s love, or God’s justice which is sometimes described as the distribution of God’s love, is an example. Although framing things very differently, the notion of love in the situation ethics of Joseph Fletcher is perhaps another paradigm illustrative of the point, or at least an overstatement to make the point.

The debate within Anglicanism over same sex marriage has similarities with the debate over artificial birth control in the Roman Catholic Church from nearly half a century ago. There, a teaching is issued by clerics not impacted by it. A number of the faithful reject the teaching. The hierarchy responds by denouncing not only the content of theological dissent, censuring theologians like Charles Curran and Bernard Haring, but denouncing the theological method of dissident theologians as well. This is analogous to what is happening, in our own flight of the bumble bee kind of way, within Anglicanism. A growing number of Anglicans in western democracies, priests and laity alike, reject the perspectives of GAFCON and other “orthodox” bishops. In turn, the response from much of the hierarchy is to try and define the theological content of the issue and shut down alternative ways of thinking about the problem as well. Bernard Haring, by the way, is a moral theologian Anglicans can warm up to.

Keep in mind that orthodoxy is largely political hegemony dressed up as piety.

Fr. Will McQueen

Mr. Streever,

Thank you for approving my comment. If my comment was attacking, please forgive.

One of the places where I disagree with your reply is the fact that you’ve interchanged the deeply held, Biblical belief in the sanctity of marriage to be between one man and one woman with a disparaging term “discriminatory.” Now Dr. Sumner’s beliefs are no longer ones that have been shaped and formed by historical church teaching, consistent Biblical exegesis, and in one fail swoop reduced to discrimination. I find that form of logic to be both disingenuous and unfair as well.

I realize that I’m weighing into a forum that has heard all of these arguments before and are not persuaded by them. But when multiple people on this thread have either openly stated or insinuated that Dr. Sumner should not be elevated to the office of bishop, then it becomes quite apparent to me that those who hold to the traditional view of marriage must not be allowed to hold any position of authority within the Church.

Carolyn Peet

Fr. Will, please know that I take no offense at being referred to as “Mrs.”. I am proud to be a Mrs., and would be proud to be a “Miss” if that were the case.
I have personally never cottoned to “Ms”. And certainly not the current “Mx”!!

Fr. Will McQueen

Yes, I recognize the “tongue in cheek” nature of Mrs. Peet’s above comment. It was an initial misread on my part. I guess I’m just so used to reading those exact same comments here that are completely serious it becomes difficult to recognize the difference.

Bro David, I think it can equally be stated that the forces that wanted to see Bp. Lawrence gone started working for his departure the day it was announced that he had received consents the second time around.

Ann Fontaine

Dear Fr. Will McQueen — you have no knowledge of Ms. Peet’s marital status. Your continued use of Mrs. reminds me of all naysayers to women’s leadership or speech. (as many who disagree with the Presiding Bishop like to call her Mrs. Schori) Please use standard address.

Carolyn Peet

I can’t wait to see if Canon Sumner gets the required consents, since he is clearly on the wrong side of the Single Most Important Social Issue in the History of the Universe.

Fr. Will McQueen

Mrs. Peet,

Your comment is so very telling of the duplicity, and rank hypocrisy of those within TEC. You said that you wondered if Dr. Sumner would receive the necessary consents to his election because he holds a position regarding same-sex blessings that is contrary to the leadership of TEC. Yet at the exact same time TEC has been saying for years that it is “comprehensive” enough, and there is plenty of room at the table for those who do not agree with the direction TEC is taking.

Which is it? By your comment you are implying that there isn’t room to give consents to a bishop-elect who does not agree with the authorization of same-sex blessings or marriages.

I wish you all would just be honest enough to admit that you desire that all of the conservatives would just go away and leave you alone. However, please don’t even think of taking any property with you. We’d much rather own a bunch of empty buildings than let you have them to continue your respective ministries.

May God continue to bless the faithful ministry within the Diocese of Dallas.

JC Fisher

Fr McQueen, “Mrs Peet” is CLEARLY being sarcastic. She is, I daresay, on your side. So when you go hurling insults (“duplicity, and rank hypocrisy”), you’re *really* telling it to a mirror! ;-/

David Streever

Hi Father Will:
I’m approving your comment (somewhat) against my better judgement. It’s not particularly civil; you seem to blame Ms. Peet for views that she may or may not hold, and ascribe to her charges of hypocrisy & malice.

That isn’t appropriate.

The comment policy here requires that you be civil and courteous.

I’ve approved your comment so I can point out what appears to be a fallacy in your logic. Having a big table doesn’t mean approving everyone to be a leader; it’s one thing to tolerate or accept contrary views, and another thing entirely to elevate to leadership and authority those views. By definition, a view that certain people aren’t qualified for marriage or a job is a discriminatory view. Scientific evidence and analysis suggests that the type of discrimination which some people wish to practice is unfair, because it’s based on qualities that are innate to a person; other studies show that people born with same-sex attraction who restrain or inhibit themselves tend to suffer for it.

While many in TEC can worship beside a person who thinks it’s OK to discriminate against LGBT folk, they may not wish to see someone who holds those discriminatory views in a position of hiring, authority, and leadership. I’m not trying to insult you or anyone else in acknowledging that it’s a discriminatory view; by the clearest English definition of the word discrimination, it is, and that’s what I’m referring to.

Not all people who have conservative views discriminate against people with same-sex attractions; that brings me to the second fallacy. It’s unfair and inaccurate to say that TEC wants to get rid of all conservatives. It’s a polarizing and political statement, which doesn’t seem accurate, when I look at the many Republicans and conservatives (including Tea Partiers!) who enjoy worshipping at the same church I do. I think instead it’s fair to say that TEC seems reluctant to elevate to leadership individuals who do not follow modern science when it pertains to issues related to people who have same-sex attractions.

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