My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
I am so grateful to those of you who have shared your stories with me over the last eight months. All of these of these stories have been heartfelt and revelatory. Some of these stories have revealed anxiety about this transitional time; either about the length of the process, or a sense of insecurity when there is no bishop in the house. Others stories have revealed raw or chafed edges within communities. However, the majority of stories have revealed the creativity and resourcefulness with which our sisters and brothers are rising to the opportunities and challenges before them.
What all these stories have in common is they reveal who we are as the people of God in the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. In this they also vividly remind me of the stories of Holy Scripture we read and hear week in and week out. From this perspective I equate the electoral process to the Liturgy of the Word. We have been sharing and collecting stories through listening sessions and surveys, which has been akin to hearing the Old Testament, the Psalter, the Epistle, and the Gospel. Now we are pausing to reflect upon what we have heard.
In a matter of weeks after our Diocesan Convention, what we have heard will be expounded upon – not unlike a sermon – by the Search Committee and the Council of Trustees in the form of a diocesan profile that describes who we know ourselves to be as the followers of Jesus Christ in the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, and this profile will help the person God has called to be the 10th Bishop of Kansas to recognize herself or himself in our stories.
To continue the metaphor of the Liturgy of the Word, once we have heard the sermon – the diocesan profile – we, and others, will ponder it for a time and then those people who feel called to respond to our profile will share with the Search Committee their own creedal statements through application and interview. Following these creedal affirmations we will immerse ourselves in the prayers of the people and discernment, for ourselves, and for the candidates who present themselves to us.
Then, recalling our need for reconciliation with God and our neighbor, the process will take on a confessional element as the candidates reveal themselves to the search committee through background checks, financial disclosures, and uncomfortable questions. What follows will be an extended exchange of the peace as the candidates meet together and with Search Committee in retreat to learn more about each other and the diocese. From this a slate of candidates will finalized.
This exchange of the peace will continue a bit longer as the process opens to petitions, which undergo the same scrutiny as the candidates. In early October 2018, the conclusion of the exchange of the peace will occur in the walkabouts as we greet the final slate of candidates and nominees and discern for ourselves who God has called as the 10th Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas.
Our next act of worship will be the offertory when we gather at Grace Cathedral on October 19, 2018 to offer gifts we have received in the election of the person God has called as the 10th Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas. Then at long last we will celebrate the Great Thanksgiving, and afterwards we will be sent with thanksgiving into the world in peace to love and serve the Lord.
Yours in thanksgiving,
We, the Council of Trustees, believe in and trust the God-given gifts that abide in the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas. During this season of transition, we will not be fearful. Directed by the Spirit, together we joyfully walk with Jesus the road ahead. [Council of Trustees, February 1, 2017]