East Carolina Bishop Resigns to Serve as Bishop Provisional of Pennsylvania
By David W. Virtue
January 7, 2013
In a highly unusual move, a sitting bishop of one diocese has resigned to become the provisional bishop of another diocese.
The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel will leave his post as Bishop of East Carolina and move to the Diocese of Pennsylvania where he will act as Bishop Provisional following the early retirement and forced retirement of disgraced Pennsylvania Bishop Charles E. Bennison after he was found guilty of covering up his brother's sexual abuse of a minor. Daniel has served the diocese for 16 years.
According to a press release from the diocese, Daniel said his resignation is effective February 28 "for reasons of mission strategy". He will assume the position in Philadelphia some time during the first half of March.
According to a statement released from the Diocese of Pennsylvania, the position of provisional bishop is "uncontested" as such an appointment is not made from a slate of candidates.
The Diocese of Pennsylvania will meet in special convention on Jan. 12 to act on Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's recommendation that it call the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III as its provisional bishop. The special convention will vote only on one nominee for the office.
The move is highly unusual, a retired bishop told VOL. "It is rare for a sitting bishop to resign to take up a provisional bishop. Most provisional bishops are drawn from the ranks of retired bishops. My suspicion is that it is about the money, East Carolina doesn't have any."
Diocesan Chancellor Mary Kohart said the Canons of the Episcopal Church provide that a Diocese seeking a Bishop Provisional must do so in consultation with the Presiding Bishop's office. "The Presiding Bishop has a policy which provides that a Diocese seeking to call a Bishop Provisional must use a highly confidential interview and selection process and may present only one name to its Convention. The Presiding Bishop's policy, as we understand it, was adopted to encourage the broadest number of Bishops in our Church who may feel called to serve as the Bishop Provisional in a particular Diocese to seek that position privately and without fear that their interest in serving as a Bishop Provisional will complicate their current positions. An open or a contested selection process by a Diocese would defeat this goal and, from our perspective, would have likely limited the number of Bishops willing to consider becoming our Bishop Provisional."
A press release from the Diocese of Pennsylvania said, "As soon as Bp. Daniel is elected by the Special Convention, he will become our Bishop Provisional. He will have all of the authority of a Diocesan Bishop during his tenure, which is expected to be approximately two years or until the Diocese elects a new Bishop Diocesan."
Bishop Daniel will maintain the liberal tradition of the diocese. He will allow Bishop Allan Turner to continue to minster to evangelical parishes in the diocese while Bishop Rodney Michel will meet the needs of the dwindling Anglo-Catholic parishes in the diocese. Recently, Bishop Turner made an episcopal visit to the Church of the Good Samaritan in Paoli when Bishop Michel installed a new rector at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont following the ouster of Fr. David L. Moyer.
Further investigation reveals that under his leadership in East Carolina, Daniel, a liberal on sexuality issues, has seen his diocese decline in both parishioners and income. In 2001 the diocese claimed 7,319 in Average Sunday Attendance; by 2011 that figure had slipped to 7,015, a loss of over 4%.
The Diocese of Pennsylvania under Bishop Bennison has seen major slippage from a high of 19,486 parishioners in 2001 to 14,559 in 2011, a drop of over 25%.
The 2011 Parochial Report Summary for East Carolina saw 4,806 pledging units with the amount pledged being $11,832,777. Total operating revenue needed was $14,155, 885.
The 2011 Parochial Report Summary for Pennsylvania revealed 11,167 pledging units with a total plate and pledge of $28,056,272. Total operating revenue for the diocese however was $43,293,498.
Bishop Daniel took the lead early on to condemn the actions of South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence and offered assistance to priests who wished to remain in the Episcopal Church. The bishop was also one of three other liberal Episcopal bishops in the state who found themselves on the wrong side of history and theology when they expressed their opposition to Amendment One, also known as the "marriage amendment" that upholds marriage between a man and a woman.
Bishop Michael B. Curry, Diocese of North Carolina, Bishop Clifton Daniel, III, Diocese of East Carolina, and Bishop G. Porter Taylor, Diocese of Western North Carolina all co-authored a joint letter opposing the amendment.
These liberal bishops were theologically and morally outflanked from the state's two Roman Catholic dioceses, as well as prominent pastors from historically black churches who vocally supported the measure (Blacks deeply resent their color being equated with sodomy.). The Roman Catholic bishops of Charlotte and Raleigh also issued a mailer calling for support of traditional marriage. Even Billy Graham weighed in in support of Amendment One.
Bishop Daniel is not expected to instigate the slash and burn tactics of Bishop Bennison in dealing with orthodox priests in his diocese.
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