The Rev. Susan Snook and Dean Tom Ferguson offer differing perspectives on the election of the next Presiding Bishop and the work of restructuring the church.
Snook calls for a visionary leader and a Chief Operating Officer that is accountable to General Convention and Executive Council:
I believe that it is perfectly possible for us to elect a real agent of transformation as our next leader, and that that leader will be able to inspire change that our current structures will find very difficult to imagine. We need the kind of change that even the Task Force for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC), with its mandate to consider new ways of doing things, will find it hard to convince the rest of the church to risk. That is why I hope the next Presiding Bishop will turn his/her attention from the issues that were most pressing in the current triennium (relations with the Anglican Communion and our own breakaway groups), to the issue that will be most pressing in the next (transformation for mission within the church).
I think real transformation happens with real leadership. And because I believe this, I can’t agree with the Crusty Old Dean’s suggestion that we elect a caretaker/interim PB at the next Convention. His argument is that we can’t elect a PB until we have defined the job. But I think that in order to change, we should elect a transformational leader, who shares the church’s vision and passion for change, and who has the ability to gather others around that vision....
... How is this (the current Office of COO) a healthy situation, for the General Convention and its elected interim representative, Executive Council, to have the power to fund a staff, but little power to hold the staff accountable? For the House of Deputies, one whole house of General Convention, to have no oversight over staff priorities because the staff is accountable to the Presiding Bishop and his/her appointed officers? (Please do not read this question as a criticism of the current CEO, COO, and staff, or anything they have done, but rather of the strange way these roles have evolved.)
This is why I think the Crusty Old Dean’s suggestion of having an elected COO, from any order of ministry, has real merit.
And Ferguson thinks a caretaker Presiding Bishop is what we need next:
1. Nominate candidates to be a caretaker PB, an experienced or even retired bishop who may be willing to serve for a triennium. We cannot elect a 9-year incumbent and possibly think we can make any changes to the office, so, in reality, we are locking in many aspects of our current structure through 2024 by electing a 9-year incumbent in 2015.
2. So essentially elect an interim PB in 2015 while the church considers proposals to restructure and rethink the church. Get a commitment from candidates, and have the PB-elect publicly announce, the intention to resign at the end of the 2018 General Convention. Instead of spending over $500,000 to transition to an office which might be restructured, why not actually think about changing the office? Currently we are coming up with a transition plan for the people in the office, not the office itself.
If we are able to make a first vote on Constitutional changes in 2015, and a second in 2018, then we could elect a new PB to serve under the new definitions of the office. If we are unable, we could do any number of things depending on circumstances. Ask the incumbent to stay on for three more years. We could elect someone to serve out the remainder of the term through 2024, and then elect someone under any new provisions. Sure, there would be some bumpiness and perhaps uncertainty, as in any kind of interim or transition period, but is this any worse than locking ourselves into our current system through 2024?
Both like the idea of a elected Chief Operating Office - believing it could be a lay or ordained person.
Read both blogs and add your thoughts about the upcoming election of a Presiding Bishop and re-visioning of the structure of the church.