D066 Discerning a Call to the Episcopate

Original version

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the issue of how the Church can better aid in the discernment of a call to the episcopate be addressed by providing access to a confidential process of information and mentoring through the Office of Pastoral Development; and be it further

Resolved, That the Pilot Board for Episcopal Transitions create an informational website, accessible to all, with interviews and information that would aid in demystifying the process of discerning a call to the episcopate; and be it further

Resolved, That the Pilot Board for Episcopal Transitions recruit a roster of bishops, former candidates in episcopal elections, and other appropriate pastoral support people as may be appropriate for providing information and to confidentially answer questions of seekers prior to that person deciding whether to enter a diocesan search process for a call to the episcopate; and be it further

Resolved, That the General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to consider a budget allocation of $95,000 for the implementation of this resolution.

Explanation

The Episcopal Church takes discernment to Holy Orders seriously. However, there is no formal process in place for a person to test a sense of call to the episcopate that is similar to the work done in discerning for the diaconate or the priesthood. While the accepted process for the ultimate affirmation of the call is a public election (and we are making no call to change that), it is absent the prolonged, informed, prayerful process that we employ in the case of a call to the diaconate or priesthood. This resolution addresses that absence.
The perception that articulating a possible call to the episcopate is a display of ambition is unfortunate. We believe this negative reaction is also why people are reluctant to ask questions about their own vocation except in a limited fashion. We propose a mechanism to change that perception, so that exploring a call to any form of service to the church would be seen as the faithfulness it is.
The Task Force proposes the establishment of a voluntary process by which people may ask questions about a possible call to the episcopate before entering into dialogue with a particular diocese. A process of vocational discernment that takes place before ones name goes forward in an episcopal search process would permit more people throughout the church to safely and confidentially seek clarity for themselves. We believe that better access to information for all who are sensing a call could increase the diversity of people who are prepared to respond to God’s call in this way.


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