Episcopal Elections

Reforming the Episcopate – well, why not?

The idea of a geographic diocese is under particular threat. It is as much under threat from the internet as it is from the anti-women, anti-gay groups. I don’t think that territorial organisation is proving very effective in church life. Remember the parish system?

So, what comes next? I might blog about this more later, but here are some wacky ideas, which are in some cases mutually exclusive.

1 Retain the boundaries of a diocese, but change the electorate. Give every communicant member a vote in a single transferable ballot, subject to an approval vote by the stipendiary clergy. This would have the side effect of giving real meaning to church membership and ensuring that we sorted out what it means once and for all. You are an Episcopalian if you have the right to vote for the Episcope.

2 Have an issues-based Episcopate. The danger here is of anti-this and anti-that episcopates developing, but it would also be possible for Episcopates to develop which emphasised mission or social justice or youth. Could re-align all the church on themes rather than geography.

3 Privatise the Episcopate – you can be ordained a bishop when you can get 2000 Episcopalians to endorse your nomination and covenant to support you financially.

4 Mixture of geographic and non-geographic dioceses. Bishop for Cyberspace needed urgently. Bishop for Youth needed urgently – 20 years ago.

5 Retain geographic boundaries but split dioceses into component parts. Much smaller dioceses would be the result. Make bishops work in congregations within the diocese. Eg Diocese of Dunkeld, serving 10 congregations, bishop in any one of them.

6 Take away all their power, including the right to ordain – have titular heads of the church – relationship of Bishops to Congregations like that of Queen to parliament. (Don’t be fooled, this is not the status quo!)

7 Do away with diocesan organisation within Scotland – just have one bishop – hey it works in Estonia.


  1. Kelvin says

    Re: Episcopal Elections
    Having prepared myself to be seriously depressed by the outcome on Saturday, I now think that maybe the system isn’t quite as bad as any of these alternatives.

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