The Executive Council just expanded the budget for the search for the Presiding Bishop. The original budget was for $126,000 now expanded by $100,000 to $226,000.
Crusty Old Dean reports, "Crusty's eyes popped at a number from the recently concluded Executive
Council meeting. $100,000 was added to the budget of the Presiding
Bishop's Nominating Committee, to bring total budget expenditure to
$226,000. And that's just nominating the Presiding Bishop! Executive
Council also began the process of creating a transition team to assist
in the move towards the new PB who will be elected in 2015 -- adding in
transition and installation of the new PB, then the amount for
nominating, electing, transitioning, and installing a Presiding Bishop
comes to over $500,000."
OK Boys and Girls, time to get with the program. Something like half a million dollars will be spent, if it all goes as planned, in "nominating, electing, transitioning, and installing" a new PB.
Now sitting down here is hot and sticky Lilavois, on the edge of Port-au-Prince, $500,000 seems like a lot of money. Actually, back in good ol Lewes Delaware it seems like a lot, but perhaps not so much. But it is no small change, particularly, as the esteemed Crusty Ol Dean points out, we seem to be able to cut back on support of seminarians and such.
There are of course solutions:
Del Glover, no slouch in these matters, suggests a set of possibilities for an alternative search and election (used with his permission)
I see that Council agreed to increase the amount of the funding for Nominating Committee for the next Presiding Bishop to $226,000. One wonders what would happen if we were to consider another approach . . . what If we were to assume that every "eligible" bishop . . . that is :
* Any bishop... young enough to serve the full nine year tenure before the mandatory retirement age of 72 . . IS a candidate until and unless that bishop confirms she/he does NOT feel called to this office.
Operating with this premise, the slate number of potential candidates will have been honed and the true process of discernment could begin with the work of the Nominating Committee focused."
In the last round on all this (I was on the Committee) the Committee outlined what it though we were looking for and sent that to all potential candidates asking if they were interested in further exploration. Some 28 (I think) responded affirmatively. From there we were able to screen further with some ease.
Now one of the problems is that the committee to Nominate is really big. Changing that requires a change in canon, so its too late to do much about that. But the Committee could work differently, meet as a group less often, and so forth. And with the Glover initiative, the Committee could simply turn over to the house of bishops the list of possible candidates, the hoped for characteristics sought and let them go at it. Given that the candidates also met with the HoB at their spring meeting that year, we could even suggest that all interested candidates be available for questions and for comment at that meeting with the full House.
Crusty Ol Dean is no slouch and has other ideas for the future of the office of Presiding Bishop.
The one that is of interest here is this:
Crusty proposes the following to the Joint Nominating Committee and TREC:
1. Nominate candidates to be a caretaker PB, an experienced or even
retired bishop who may be willing to serve for a triennium. We cannot
elect a 9-year incumbent and possibly think we can make any changes to
the office, so, in reality, we are locking in many aspects of our
current structure through 2024 by electing a 9-year incumbent in 2015.
2. So essentially elect an interim PB in 2015 while the church
considers proposals to restructure and rethink the church. Get a
commitment from candidates, and have the PB-elect publicly announce, the
intention to resign at the end of the 2018 General Convention. Instead
of spending over $500,000 to transition to an office which might be
restructured, why not actually think about changing the office?
Currently we are coming up with a transition plan for the people in the
office, not the office itself. "
I don't know if his crusty self has ever met the esteemed Del Glover, but they are on to something from two different directions. If we combine them we get --
What if the recommendation from the Nominating Committee was to open up the field (which the HoB can do anyway) to include everyone willing to serve from 2016 to convention 2018, in an interim capacity and not to stand for election in 2018.
Meanwhile the TREC (committee on restructure) and the General Convention could consider again just what we want from a Presiding Bishop in a new structure.
Ho ho ho... one more meeting of the Nominating Committee would do it. They could send a sense of what was looked for in a candidate along with a list of those who have expressed a willingness to be considered within the parameters outlined.
The House of Bishops could spend some time thinking about just who among them might serve with verve and grace for three years, and then the HoB elects at Convention. I think we might save some big bucks ( no interviews with potential candidates, etc) we get the interim, we get the time to rethink the office. Everybody wins.
What stands in the way? Well the proposition in canon is that we elect for nine years. But nothing prevents the House of Bishops from electing with a promise from anyone standing for office that they will only serve, in this one instance, for three years.
If there is some change left from all this we might think of helping to fund a new deacon's training program in Haiti... an idea that carries major possibilities for expansion of ministry in the Episcopal Church of Haiti, which has roughly 100,000 people in it and is poised for expansion and growth.
Or maybe something else.
But I think $126,000 is enough, and $500,000 is obscene. Just so you know.