Friday, October 23, 2009

Getting to Know the Nominees V: Jerre Stockton Williams Jr.

Introduction: I have been 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 (note that of all the candidates, Stockton Williams appears to have been the only one who submitted responses after the actions of 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 have proceeded in alphabetical order, and I have not been ranking the nominees, but I admit at this point I am getting a little punchy from checking these guys out. Next week, I hope to come out with a summary and rate them on whether they are reappraiser or not, my likes/dislikes, or pros/cons or anything else that comes to mind. As I finish this the fifth in a daily series (a departure from my favorite pace of biweekly blogging), I have learned that I may have at least one write in nominee to blog about, and I am not happy with having that extra work load.

The Psalm for Thursday Oct. 22, 2009 was Ps 37, and my focus was drawn to,
"Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Do not fret—it leads only to evil."

Thankfully, after studying his bio, the candidate for today has calmed my anger over having to do a sixth post about a write-in candidate.

Onward then...

Fifth up is Stockton Williams.

Learn more about his parish, St. Peters in Kerrville, Texas at their home page.

There we see that he was a Religion major at Amherst, law school at U.T., Law Clerk to a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, then practiced law and "specialized in business litigation and appellate work."

Now that might come in handy! Doesn't that make two lawyers in this election? As I noted earlier, wasn't +Dorsey Henderson a lawyer as well? Later, in his faith story, Stockton Williams will comment about his call from the legal profession.

Lets see...Virginia Theological Seminary graduated with honors, May 1986.

Having never attended a seminary myself, I can't say anything about VTS in 1986, but I am sure some sharp eyed reader can.

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

Part A - Faith Story:

I will quote his words.
" May of my senior year in High School, I had a profound experience of God’s grace through Jesus Christ and his Spirit. One night I was reading the Sermon on the Mount (some sort of Sunday School assignment), and it suddenly hit me: this is all about motives and I am so far away from where God wants me to be. I mostly did the right things outwardly, but it was always for my reasons: my good grades, my popularity, my achievement, my being in good standing with teachers, my, my, my. Although I did not think of it this way at the time, I was a Pharisee.

I was immediately convicted by the gap between who God wants me to be and who I am."

Points for honesty, but will it woo the voters?
"Somehow through Christ’s Spirit I was led right into Paul’s Letter to the Romans, and everything clicked. Suddenly I knew, not just intellectually but deep in my heart, that I was not so lovable in God’s eyes, but he loved me nonetheless, and even died on the cross for me."

Emphasis added because I missed the "not" the first time through, and I would "not" want anyone else to repeat my mistake.
Later in his story, he relates his call (not posted here for the sake of space), and then how his call was shaped,
"One night I was forcing myself to pray Evening Prayer, just out of a sense of duty, and suddenly some words from Canticle 9, The First Song of Isaiah, were just shy of audible and spoken in the first person:

'Make my deeds known among the peoples; see that they remember that my name is exalted.'

God spoke to me, though I cannot swear that you would have heard anything had you been in the room. Instantly, I knew the 'shape' of my call, told Leslie, and she made a stole for me with those words on it. I still wear that stole a lot. And at every church I have served, I have told the congregation that they can always “call me” on that calling. In other words, if they perceive that I am losing sight of that calling, or drifting away from it through all sorts of other busy-ness, they may always tell me and pull me back toward it.
That is why God called me from serving as a lawyer to serving as a priest. That is what I try to do in every place that I have served. God still needs Christian lawyers, but my personal mission is: Make God’s deeds known among the people; see that they remember that his name is exalted!"(emphasis was present in the original)
Part B - Discuss your management style including conflict resolution:
"The phrase that my current Associate Rector most often uses to describe my leadership/management style is “high energy.” He and his predecessors would also tell you that I do not have a controlling leadership style, but encourage associates to take initiative."

I do have some actual data about this answer because in April, 2005, I attended the national church program, CREDO. My associate clergy and lay leaders (from two parishes) filled out evaluations of me, concluding with anonymous comments. Perhaps my biggest personal surprise in the evaluations was that they rated me higher on the areas of “visioning,” “managing change,” and “managing conflict,” than I rated myself. Not a surprise was that they collectively rated my three highest areas as “preaching,” “teaching,” and “pastoral care.”

I guess that data can be double checked by speaking with his associate clergy and lay leaders. Sounds like a job for the mysterious Deep Pew.

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?

This is where the rubber meets the road, or at least has appeared to have been the question that, in my mind, has created some separation between the nominees. Remember that Stockton Williams' answer is the first that appears to have come in after GC2009.
"I am convinced that the best way forward out of our divisions is a two-fold focus on doing mission and ministry (including worship!), and supporting the Windsor/covenant process. I have demonstrated that conviction by helping found the Communion Partner Rectors, which are in support of our Communion Partner Bishops and Primates. We all stand transparently for working within the Episcopal Church, and also for supporting the Windsor process. That process has included observing three moratoria: two the 'left' does not like (no same-gender blessings and no bishops in active same-gender relationships) and one the 'right' doesn’t like (no bishops crossing diocesan boundaries).
I also favor the development of an Anglican covenant. To that end, I signed the Communion Partner Rector statement following General Convention that is in support of the bishops’ Anaheim Statement, dissenting from the General Convention vote."
Recall that +Dorsey Henderson signed the Anaheim Statement.
"Unfortunately, the recent General Convention decided to follow no longer the first two moratoria. Granted, no same-gender blessings were expressly authorized, but the Convention did vote to collect and develop liturgies for same-gender blessings, with a view toward approving them (or some of them) at a later date. Nevertheless, it is clear that even after General Convention 2009, same-gender blessings are not authorized in the Episcopal Church and so I would tell the local Rector to refrain from doing so.
Of course, that begs the question of what I would do had General Convention clearly authorized same-gender blessings and my answer would still be the same. The Anglican Communion is clear about its stand refusing same sex blessings in church. I am convinced that the three moratoria serve the benevolent purpose of giving us space for healing, and for the difficult theological work of studying and listening together, as the worldwide Anglican Communion, toward deeper understanding. All four 'instruments of communion' have asked that we follow the moratoria."
Do we as a diocese support the Windsor process? From our profile it appears that we do.
"Our refraining from same-gender blessings in church does not mean that we consider the persons requesting the blessing not children of God, nor does it mean they do not have the fullness of God’s love. The Rector should make certain the couple is welcomed in the parish and provide Christian love and support.
As we focus together on what Jesus calls us to do in terms of worship, ministry and mission, we can work together and realize that the Jesus that unites us as a Diocese is much greater than specific issues that may divide us. Your own Diocesan Profile notes, p. 31, that although there is disagreement over these issues regarding sexuality, 'we are primarily concerned with building up the Body of Christ.'AMEN!"

I am sorry but my mind wandered a bit to think of what we as a diocese have accomplished in that regard. Shame on us if we have not built up the body in strength and numbers.

I have to reiterate my last four 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.

"Listen, Listen, Listen. Then listen some more."

I agree, and I think he does not mean "the Listening Process."
"...The point is that although I have my views and visions of what a place can be, I never start out with my views and visions all worked out. I always encourage the vision-casting to come from all the leaders, and, to an extent, from the parish (and in this case, the Diocese) at large."

In conclusion, he sums it up for us (the emphasis is his),
"My mission as ordained leadership in the church is to make God’s deeds known among the people; see that they remember that his name is exalted. That will be key to my task from day one in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina."

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

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