Off to the Flagship

Off to Brechin for the consecration of the Diocese of Brechin’s new bishop.

Will report later.

The Diocese of Brechin was famously referred to by one of its former bishops as The Flagship Diocese of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Which only makes one wonder about the most appropriate sobriquets for the other six, doesn’t it?

Prayers ascending

Prayers ascending from Thurible Towers today for the Diocese of Brechin as the Electoral Synod there meets this evening to choose a new bishop.

Episcopacy is a funny business. We seem to be pretty much convinced in the Scottish Episcopal Church that we want bishops but I suspect that what we want from the Episcopacy is far less clear and I’m guessing that is not a terribly comfortable ministry to inhabit for those whom we call in God’s name to be bishops amongst us. However, Jesus promised his followers a cross not comfort and that applies to all of us, whatever liturgical headgear we are called upon to wear before the altar of the Lord.

My thoughts today are very much with the candidates. There are five candidates for the Diocese of Brechin who are under consideration by the voters. They make themselves very vulnerable by this process, particularly candidates who live and continue to work in Scotland.

Here is a quick and inadequate guide as to how we select bishops in Scotland.

  1. Preparatory Committee is formed which considers all nominated candidates. (Anyone can nominate, even people from outside the church).
  2. Preparatory Committee produces a short list of candidates.
  3. Candidates meet Electoral Synod (lay person from each charge and the clergy of the diocese). Candidates get to speak and answer questions. Then there is a gap for reflection (a week or so) before the next meeting.
  4. Electoral Synod meets and begins voting process. Candidate is elected if they get more than two-thirds majority in both House of Clergy and House of Laity. Several rounds of voting are allowed, with low scoring candidates being knocked out successively.
  5. If Electoral Synod fails to elect, a new mandate can be issued for them to begin the process again. If this subsequently fails, the right to elect passes to the College of Bishops.
  6. Candidate is elected and then Consecrated ie ordained as bishop and put in their cathedra (ie throne) in their cathedral.
  7. Peace and Harmony break out in the diocese concerned and other candidates thank God for the gifts and skills they have, which were affirmed by the process and resume their diverse ministries with thankful hearts.

Stages 1 – 6 of this process are described in Canon 4, which can be read in all its lengthy precision on the Scottish Episcopal Church’s website. (pdf files inside a zip file).