Friday, September 21, 2007

From The Living Church

Eight Agree to Serve as Episcopal Visitors

Eight bishops have accepted an invitation to serve as episcopal visitors consistent with Delegated Pastoral Oversight (DEPO), an initiative approved by the House of Bishops in 2004.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was expected to announce the development during the opening plenary session of the House of Bishops’ meeting Sept. 20-25 in New Orleans, according to the Rev. Canon Charles Robertson, canon to the Presiding Bishop.

Canon Robertson added that Bishop Jefferts Schori conferred with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams about the invitations, which she extended after a process of consultation with bishops in The Episcopal Church. The first two days of the meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams are private.

The eight are: Bishops Frank Brookhart of Montana, Clarence Coleridge, Connecticut retired, Dorsey Henderson of Upper South Carolina, John Howe of Central Florida, Gary Lillibridge of West Texas, Michael Smith of North Dakota, James Stanton of Dallas, and Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island.

“All eight are true bridge-builders who empathize with the concerns and needs of dioceses that are struggling with the issues of the current time,” Canon Robertson said in a statement given to Episcopal News Service. “This gives dioceses the pastoral guidance and care they need while remaining faithful and loyal members of the Episcopal Church. It is also the Presiding Bishop’s hope that at some point in the future she would be invited to visit these dioceses.”

Following the 75th General Convention in 2006, seven dioceses, including Central Florida and Dallas, appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for alternate episcopal oversight. Dallas later modified its request. Details are unknown as to how an episcopal visitor would be selected or whether the plan is acceptable to the dioceses which initially made the appeal.

Bishop Jefferts Schori’s invitation to the eight bishops seeks to delegate the first of three primary canonical duties of the Presiding Bishop, that of visiting each of The Episcopal Church’s 110 dioceses during each Presiding Bishop’s nine-year term. The Presiding Bishop’s other two principal canonical roles are to “take order” for ordaining and consecrating bishops, and to oversee certain disciplinary actions as needed.

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