Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Voting for a Bishop, Waste Not, Want Not

In a post on the 2009 Minnesota bishop election, Anglicat makes some good points.

"... never waste your vote on 'making a statement,' even in the very first ballot. With nine ballots in each delegate's voting packet, it may seem that there will be a luxury of opportunity to eventually vote their ultimate intention. Unfortunate for the 'statement makers,' sometimes the earliest ballot sets an unexpected and undesirable trend that is never overcome."

"It has been famously said that politics is the art of the possible. The rule of thumb for wise voters must be: never vote for the impossible even at the beginning of what looks to be a many-balloted election."

As our election for the next bishop of Upper South Carolina draws near, this pewster is giving serious consideration to three men, each of which would make a good bishop. Ranking these men based on just their videos, their written responses, and their walkabouts remains difficult. Factor in the needs of this diocese for a new approach to change the 10% drop in Sunday attendance that we have seen over the past 6 years, and the reluctance of the clergy to accept the need to change their way of "being church," and the pewster is left with a dilemma. If clergy votes to continue the drift to develop rites for same sex marriages, and to ordain openly gay partnered clergy by choosing either David Thompson+, Andrew Waldo+, or Philip Linder+, then it will be clear that the majority of the clergy is committed to a path of continued decline of the diocese and of the national church. It is beyond belief that they would be so committed to "making a statement" that they would ignore the facts that revisionist churches are dying a slow death. This diocese needs someone who can not just hold the dying churches hands, but someone of vision who can turn things around. It may mean that the Episcopal brand name has to be rewritten. I understand clergy's fear of such a change, but come on guys, your way ain't working, and you still have a large number of conservative laity left in the pews and paying their dues who do not want this diocese to go the way of same sex blessings or openly gay, partnered clergy.

So which one of the remaining candidates, Stockton Williams+, John Burwell+, or Neal Michell+ is most capable of working with both a liberal clergy and a conservative laity and leading us out of the current downward spiral? Which one can garner enough votes from clergy to become our next bishop? Who do I vote for in order to make my vote count rather than just having it become a wasted a vote, wasted in making a statement?


  1. Anonymous9:27 AM

    I happen to disagree with you Pewster - What we in EDOUSC is somneone who is able to blend the changes that WILL come with the traditionalists - who will never change and of which you are one.

    Looking back at the history of TEC - we had similar battles over the new prayer book and ordaining women. The TEC survived and will survive no matter what happens. Unfortunately for traditionalists we must move to welcome all of Gods Children not just those who are thought to lead appropriate lifestyles. It is not up to us to judge - that is left to God.

    I am not a voting delegate to the convention, however, I went to both walk abouts and have paid close attention to all the candidates and their positions. I happen to agree with you about one of the candidates you do not feel comfortable with, and disagree with you about one you feel comfortable with. I have come to the conclusion that the six candidates believe in their heart of hearts that their lives are being lead by God and that their ministry among us is a true calling. Having spent 6 hours listening to them I came away feeling renewed, excited, hopeful and very greatful that they are interested in leading our little flock into the future - what ever that may hold.

  2. Anonymous9:59 AM

    RE: "I happen to disagree with you Pewster - What we in EDOUSC is somneone who is able to blend the changes that WILL come with the traditionalists . . . "

    I'm afraid that's not really an option. There is a pretty stark choice before the clergy of this diocese.

    1) Elect a revisionist and watch another 1000 ASA leave in the next 7 years [as happened in the past 7 under a bishop who tried to walk a moderate path for the laity but offered very little in the way of administrative leadership].

    2) Elect a traditionalist -- one which both revisionists and traditionalists can appreciate and be enthusiastic for -- and watch the diocese grow.

    The committee did a good job and the choice is pretty real and stark.

    We have 61 parishes. We will lose -- at minimum -- another 1000 in ASA over the next 7 years unless something is done to stop the bleeding.

    Even if we average that loss out to mean only 16 in ASA per parish -- that loss will kill many parishes dead in the rural areas.

    RE: "Looking back at the history of TEC - we had similar battles over the new prayer book and ordaining women. The TEC survived and will survive no matter what happens."

    Well certainly TEC will "survive" -- but in the past 30 years -- *prior* to Gene Robinson's election -- TEC lost 1/3 of its membership with the battles over the prayer book and ordaining women. Is that really the kind of equivalent "survival" that is wanted?

    I had thought we were hoping for something more than mere "survival."

    Like growth maybe. And preserved parishes. And maybe more.

  3. Anonymous12:06 PM

    The "Real Issue" facing TEC is not political leaning, but church growth and development. EDUSC will need someone that has experience in: planting and sustaining new missions (we have lost many of the new mission plants over the last 15 years)and someone who has a demonstrated track record of increasing ASA. Keep in mind that the population growth over the next 10-15 years will be in the Latino population and not in the African-American nor the Caucasian population. So, we can attempt to attract the "same faces" we have attempted to and failed over the last decade, or reach out into the growing population. The only way for real growth will be in attracting people that look different than most of the people currently in our pews.
    If you look at the need and compare it to the experiences the candidates bring, it narrows the logical choices down to either Michel or Williams.
    The real issue will boil down to whether voters seek to elect a Bishop that can lead EDUSC into growth (which may not necessarily coincide with their current parish needs)or whether they will vote for the someone they "feel comfortable" with while leading EDUSC through the downward spiral.

  4. Anonymous10:50 PM

    "It is not up to us to judge - that is left to God."

    Most certainly it is up to God to judge. He alone will determine who will be saved. But God certainly calls us to know the difference between right and wrong and to speak, act and live accordingly. He has His standards expressed in Scripture. Will we take him at his Word?

  5. As I have pointed out (to no avail) on another blog, God's standard is high indeed. It makes his Word all the more frightening to me.

  6. Anonymous2:57 AM

    Whichever Anonymous (even a pseudonym would have been helpful, all you Anonymouses),

    I don't want to argue with your conclusions about Michel and Williams re: your identification of the needs of church growth clergy and development, but given what we already know about Burwell and Holy Cross, I think you need to reread your comment and decide why you didn't include him as an also foregone conclusion for election!

  7. Rob+,

    Sometimes you have to number the anonimouse. This one was #3. I agree that their omission of Burwell+ is curious.

    One problem with an anonymous comment is you can't subscribe and get replies delivered to your e-mail.