Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Getting to Know the Nominees III: David Thompson

Introduction: I am approaching my exploration of the candidates first by looking at each separately based on what I can turn up using simple web searches, and then moving on to the Faith stories, management styles, the responses to the question on SSBs (all were submitted prior to GenCon 2009 and the passage of CO56-the resolution that said that bishops, "particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church." ), and finally I shall look at their stated possible first steps to be taken if elected. I shall proceed in alphabetical order, and at this stage I am not ranking the nominees.

Third up is David Thompson.

Learn more about St. Bartholomew's at their home page.

There, you will find a tab labeled "Sermons." These are conveniently filed by date, title, speaker, and they opened up in Windows Media Player right away on my machine. There is one titled "General Convention," hmmm....I couldn't resist listening, here is an interesting sound bite from his Sermon from 07-27-09, Minute 6:12
"...we need to be impressed by the church's desire to be a democracy in which the Holy Spirit works through the vote."

I am not real sure about that.

Here is their participation and giving chart. Not too different from our parish in Rock Hill except perhaps a higher attendance/membership ratio.

Let's take a look at his answers to the search committee:

Part A - Faith Story:

At this point I shall quote some of his response:
"...attended seminary in New York City at General."

(The General Theological Seminary)
"General was a stimulating environment in which I was exposed to a rich urban environment as well as a deeply disturbing community experience. I say disturbing because all my stereotypes of a harmonious, loving seminary where smashed within the first month. I encountered halftruths, age prejudice, faculty factions, not to mention rabid discussions about gender and sexuality."

I wonder, does that mean he did not care for those rabid discussions? How does a bishop manage those discussions once they start?
"Clinical Pastor Education was a blessed relief because it encouraged deeper honesty within the group and within me. My worship, intellectual, and spiritual life was formed at seminary. Despite my frustrations, it was a learning place encouraging spiritual growth and mental maturity.
Following seven years of ministry, I returned to seminary to earn a STM and found that experience to be one of my most rewarding. It allowed for time to reflect upon ministry in an academic setting and fostered an even deeper spiritual awareness. As I worked upon my thesis which was about racism in the 19th Century Episcopal Church, I had a spiritual renewal that lives with me today."

STM is, I think, School of Theology and Ministry.
"The best thing that can be said about my spiritual life is that I am a Trinitarian who strives to grow in faith."

Part B - Discuss your management style including conflict resolution:

At this point I shall quote some of his response:
"The highest level of accountability and involvement is to be
expected of the staff and the leadership."

I found the next part on conflict resolution interesting and I saw some parallels with the "listening process."
"I would approach a vestry/ rector conflict with these things in mind:
1. Initial understanding. How do the rector and vestry describe the problem? Do they describe it in the same way? How do they agree and differ? Is it a conflict between the vestry and congregation, congregation and rector, or vestry/congregation and rector?
2. Pray. I would pray about the situation and for the people.
3. Gather information. What is the history of the congregation, what has it accomplished in the past, and what does it hope to accomplish in the future? What is experience of the rector?
4. Establish a level of trust with both the rector and the vestry. The bishop's influence in helping to resolve the dispute will not occur if there isn't trust. I would not make hasty judgments, comments, or commitments.
5. Attend the meeting with an open heart and mind. Listen to the people and ask them to carefully state what is happening without rancor and accusations expressing both facts and feelings. Continue to establish trust.
6. Attempt to have the group, not me, resolve their differences. True resolution of conflict has to come from the people who are in the midst of the conflict. A resolution cannot be forced upon them.
7. If the conflict is not settled at this meeting but there is progress, I would ask them, depending upon the amount of progress achieved, to either continue working on the issues themselves or to return and complete the work.
8. An outside consultant may need to be considered. Also, there are times in which the conflict may not be resolved and then discussions about how to terminate the relationship must take place."

Part C - How would you counsel a rector who was asked to bless a same gender relationship and how would you lead us beyond our divisions?

Again, I will quote much of his response, but I have typed one part in bold print:
"This would be my position. I would advise the rector not to go forward with the blessing because it has not been approved by the General Convention or endorsed by the Diocesan Executive Council. Whether I agree or disagree with the actions of General Convention, I believe it would be my responsibility to live under the guidelines established by this body. If the rector went forward with the blessing, I would consult with the Standing Committee and other leaders as to the best way in which to respond to the action. I would remind the clergy and communicants that we are called to live in community and that our actions do affect one another..."

I think that he is saying that resolutions at the General Convention of the Episcopal church are of great importance, and we in Upper SC should follow their lead.
"...With regard to sexual orientation my personal opinion is this. Based upon my understanding of scientific and psychological evidence and upon personal experience, I do not believe that anyone chooses his/her sexuality. I believe that eventually a same gender blessing will be passed by the General Convention and that the Diocese will have to deal with this reality. If this were to occur, I would consult with the leadership of the Diocese and do what is best for all concerned."

And what about scripture?

I have to reiterate my last two posts where I referenced our profile as a diocese:
15. Our current Bishop and the diocese, in
convention, have affirmed that we are a
Windsor Diocese. In that light, I believe our
next bishop should be supportive of the
Windsor Report and the ongoing Windsor

48 % Strongly Agree
20 % Somewhat Agree
26 % No Opinion
4 % Somewhat Disagree
2 % Strongly Disagree

16. I support the blessing of civil unions (as
opposed to marriage) between gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

26 % Strongly Agree
19 % Somewhat Agree
8 % No Opinion
10 % Somewhat Disagree
37 % Strongly Disagree

21. I support the marriage of gay and lesbian
persons in the Episcopal Church.

17 % Strongly Agree
11 % Somewhat Agree
7 % No Opinion
12 % Somewhat Disagree
53 % Strongly Disagree

Part D - Some of the first steps I would take to get started.
A couple of things he wrote caught my eye:
"Taking into consideration the report generated by the diocesan Committee on Property
and Insurance entitled "Clergy and Lay Employee Compensation Study," implement
some of the suggestions such as authorizing a task force to study the viability of the congregations. Do some need to be closed? How will the diocese strengthen the others?"

What does this mean for our smallest congregations?
"Be in contact with ecumenical consultants who understand the trends affecting the Christian church in America and lay the foundation for the church of the future."

I am puzzled by that one.

Finally, towards the end of the Q+A we see that he served on our Upper South Carolina Delegation to GC 2009, I wonder how he voted on those controversial resolutions?

Again, does he fit our profile? How about Q 30 I asked you to consider in the last 2 posts?

30. I would like our next bishop to be a strong
preacher / orator, fully committed to evangelism
and outreach to the unchurched.

46 % Strongly Agree
39 % Somewhat Agree
9 % No Opinion
6 % Somewhat Disagree


  1. Bull Street9:12 AM

    STM is Sacred Theology Masters (original may be in Latin).

    Pewster--A very disturbing thing about Thompson is his one mention of "Christ" in his faith story. That occurrence is a formulaic description from church history (his Master's area).

    Nowhere in his personal testimony does he identify Jesus Christ as key. Each of the other nominees name Jesus as One who made a big difference in their lives.

    Rather, Thompson speaks of an "innate faith" drawn from the "fields and forests." Shades of Ralph Waldo Emerson!

    Would Thompson fill in the gap if asked about this? Of course. But the omission in his free words must be significant.

  2. Indeed - Master of Sacred Theology (Sacrae Theologiae Magister). I agree also, a telling ommission

  3. Anonymous12:07 PM

    He voted yes on D025.

    I think his personal beliefs are pretty clear, and it's telling that he answered those questions prior to attending GC, stating that he would depend on GC to set his course, and promptly GC voted to approve same sex blessings broadly and "generously." It's hard to really spin that away.

  4. The infernal growth and development pages keep changing requiring constant updates. Just look it up yourselves the next time it malfunctions.