A satisfactory number of diverse candidates have applied and interviews are beginning. We’ve secured the location for the ordination and consecration of our next bishop. We’ve gotten the date locked down on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s calendar. Locations are set for meet-and-greet sessions with the bishop candidates.
These are just a few significant accomplishments by the two committees charged with recruiting candidates for and organizing the transition to the new shepherd of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.
For the bishop search committee—16 members tasked with developing the diocesan profile, soliciting applicants, vetting candidates and presenting a slate—the process has entered the late innings. Chairwoman Debbie Nelson Linck said the search committee has sifted the written applications through a “prayerful, thoughtful and intentional process.” That included a systematic review of the traits—including compassion, energy, pastoral leadership and conflict resolution skills—each prospect would bring to the diocese.
Linck said the committee pushed back its application deadline two weeks because as the first deadline approached, no one had applied. As it turns out, the would-be bishops were simply waiting till the last minute to return their applications. The committee was ultimately very happy with the interest the diocese received.
“We got a sufficient number of diverse applications, which is really what we were looking for and what we're pleased with," Linck said. The final deadline was June 21.
Her committee is now pressing toward the next milestone: After a series of interviews by video call—interviews that are starting now—a smaller cohort of prospects will come to St. Louis Sept. 16-19 for a retreat with the search committee and other diocesan officers. Two days after that, the search committee presents its final slate to the Standing Committee of the diocese.
Transitioning to the Bishop's transition
Meanwhile a second committee has ramped up the work of the transition to the new bishop. The transition committee is charged with hitting all the milestones after the slate of bishop candidates is finalized. That includes planning the election at the diocesan convention, celebrating the ministry of Bishop George Wayne Smith and preparing for the installation, consecration and ordination of the new bishop.
Locking down that date and location was the transition committee’s top priority. The diocese will welcome its 11th bishop on April 25, 2020, in a ceremony at St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish Catholic Parish in St. Louis.
The independent parish is led by Fr. Marek Bozek, who is in discernment to become a priest in the Episcopal Church. The church shares grounds with the Polish Heritage Center, which will host a celebration reception the day of the new bishop’s ordination.
- The location of four regional meet-and-greet sessions from Nov. 4-7 are set. These sessions give members of the diocese a chance to meet and hear from each candidate for bishop prior to the election at the diocesan convention Nov. 22-23. These meet-and-greets—often referred to as “walkabouts”—will be at St. Timothy’s Creve Coeur; Trinity Central West End; Calvary Columbia; and Christ Church Cape Girardeau. Stay tuned for specific dates and times for each session.
- The Rev. Paul A. Metzler, a semiretired Episcopal priest in St. Louis, has agreed to serve as chaplain to the final candidates. He is the link for these prospective bishops between the search and transition committees.
- Watch for fundraising messages from the transition committee soon. The committee is offering the opportunity for diocesan members to contribute to gifts of gratitude for the ministry of Bishop George Wayne Smith and his wife Debra.
- A website about the bishop search is available. Check it out at diocesemo.org/bishop-search. It includes a timeline, the diocesan profile and more.