Friday, May 1, 2015

EpiscoNerd Oscars: The PB Nominees Revealed

Well, it’s Episconerd Oscar Day:  the Joint Nominating Committee for the presiding Bishop (JNCPB) released its slate of nominees for the XXVIIth Presiding Bishop.  And, just like the real Oscars, Twitter melted down with talk about slights, longshots, and favorites – well, a very small, tiny,
If only an orchestra started playing if bishops talked too long...
insignificant portion of Twitter that cares about the Episcopal Church melted down.

First, let’s review Crusty’s prediction from last year.  COD released his General Convention preview back in June of 2014, a full year in advance of Convention, and predicted a group that would be in the shortlist as follows:

“Crusty prognosticates that some combination of the following persons will be on the list of four nominees presented by committee:  Mary-Gray Reeves (El Camino Real), Eugene Sutton (Maryland), Dean Wolfe (Kansas), Ian Douglas (Connecticut), Daniel Martins (Springfield), Andy Doyle (Texas), and Ed Konieczny (Oklahoma). Right now Crusty is predicting either Ian Douglas or Gene Sutton as PB.”

Now, unforeseen events impacted these predictions – for instance the tragic situation in the diocese of Maryland (no way Bishop Sutton could possibly consider a PB nomination and walk away from the tremendous work of reconciliation needed in that diocese).  But overall, not a bad list of predictions.  Dabney Smith fits COD's Konieczny/Martins role, a centrist/right-of-center candidate, so COD sees Smith's inclusion a vindication of his prediction for that slot.

COD picked Ian Douglas not only as a finalist, but someone he thought would seriously contend for PB.  And Crusty still believes that.  He also thought Bishop Curry would be a strong candidate, and did not list him as a finalist in last year’s preview not because he didn’t think Curry would be nominated, but because Crusty thought Curry would not be interested/willing in letting his name go forward.   Once COD heard later in 2014 that Curry would be willing, he thought, “There goes that prediction.”  COD knew Curry would be a finalist and a strong candidate should he be willing to pursue discernment for nomination.

So, some initial thoughts on the nominees.

--Crusty is surprised they are all East Coast.  To be sure, the nominees have ties to various parts of the country and the church, including the West (Bishop Breidenthal went to CDSP and has Oregon roots) but the fact is, all four are bishops of dioceses East of the Mississippi.

--COD is not surprised -- though is bitterly disappointed -- that they are all men.  Crusty has said on this blog that we are actually taking some steps backwards in women in the episcopate – we had more female diocesans over 10 years ago than we do now – and this is yet another sign of that.  There are women who would have been fine candidates – Mary Gray Reeves and Mariann Budde, for instance.  COD has to think the committee would have given them serious consideration, and the fact neither is here must have to do with them not being willing to pursue the process.  My disappointment is not in the slate being all male, but that we continue to lag behind in having an episcopate that reflects the diversity of the church and our society but seem unable or incapable of doing anything to create a better process of discernment and election, and thus don't have a deeper bench of female bishops.  [Note: there are those who might think Bishop Budde is ineligible, since she was elected in 2011, and one needs to be a bishop for five years.  Article II, Section 8 of the Constitution says you need to be a bishop for five years before being elected elsewhere.  COD has decreed people who think this are wrong, in COD's mind, because Article II, Section 8, specifically refers to a bishop who may be "elected as Bishop..of another diocese."  The PB is not bishop of a diocese, so COD therefore decrees this Article is not in effect.]

We need more pork pie hats and ironic facial hair in the episcopate.
--Crusty is surprised none of the group that he refers to as the “hipster bishops” have been   the bishops on the younger side who have shown themselves open to looking at new models of mission and ministry.  This groups includes Greg Rickel, Jeffrey Lee, Sean Rowe, and Andy Doyle, among others.  Keep watching to see if any of these emerge during the petition phase....speaking of which,

--COD also thinks we need to keep our powder dry on prognostication because we still have the petition process, and it will be very interesting to see who emerges from that.  The petition process can indicate whether some likely candidates were weeded out by the JCNPB and are still interested, or have changed their minds, like Charles Jenkins did in 2006, first withdrawing his name from consideration, changing his mind, and being nominated by petition.

That said, we all know people read this blog to read Crusty’s crazy prognostications.  So here we go:

--at least one strong candidate will emerge by petition.  Crusty simply can’t predict who because of the nature of the process, but there is someone out there who was weeded out by the JCNPB or who changed his/her mind, and will be a strong candidate, finishing in  the top 4.

--when thinking about prognostications, remember: as one bishop friend told Crusty, only the House of Bishops actually votes, they often know candidates in ways the broader public does not, and part of their consideration is how they think the candidates will run the House of Bishops.   So Crusty predicts:

1.  Michael Curry
2.  Ian Douglas
3.  Strong petition candidate
The rest.

With an election on the 4th ballot. And BTW, we will know this, the PB election results must be released to the House of Deputies according to Title I, Canon 2, Section 1 (f) -- all results on all ballots.

--This ordering is in no way a comment on the worthiness of any of the candidates: they’re all fine bishops, smart, passionate, and committed.  Just looking at the process and who gets to vote, this is how COD thinks the numbers will break down.

As always, all predictions guaranteed or your money back.


  1. I have been told by a member of the clergy in El Camino Real that Bp. Mary Gray-Reeves was asked to run and was considering it before her husband was killed in June of last year. After that tragedy she felt that she and her family were not emotionally able to deal with a PB nomination. It is too bad as I thing she would have made a good candidate. On the other hand, she is young enough to still be eligible in 2024.

  2. Looking forward to getting all my money back if they aren't correct. ;-)

  3. Miller is correct and Mary is the only woman canonicaly eligible.

  4. I was similarly surprised that none of the "hipster bishops" appeared on this initial list of nominees. However, if you remove "on the younger side" from the "hipster" definition, it's worth nothing that the Diocese of Southern Ohio is an exemplary diocese when it comes to new models of mission and ministry, the development of which I assume has been shepherded by +Tom Breidenthal.

    1. I believe all of them except +Greg declined to enter at this point. They are doing excellent things in their dioceses right now and sometimes that can be as effective.

  5. I like your lineup. I had the privilege of hearing Bishop Curry preach just this past Sunday. He transcends the hipster category and has the capacity to transform listeners through his gift of preaching the Gospel. Marvelous nominee for TEC.

  6. I'm glad my bishop (Greg Rickel of Olympia) wasn't nominated, because that means we get to keep him. I was a bit surprised to see him described as a "hipster"--although he did spend his sabbatical last year in Costa Rica, where he studied Spanish and learned to surf.

    1. Bishop Rickel did promise to move on after so many years. I forget the number he said. Even if he doesn't emerge via petition and wins doesn't mean that he is staying. Some seminary may need a dean.

  7. I'd like to add I think all the hipster bishops are awesome, and meant that as a compliment.

    1. Of course you did. They are quite impressive and offer the vision and energy we need.


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