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Qualifications for being a Bishop in The Episcopal Church

Qualifications for being a Bishop in The Episcopal Church

PHOTO: TEC's House of Bishops lay hands on Washington Bishop Mariann Budde, truly one of the dimmest light bulbs in the HOB

A Satirical Essay

By David W. Virtue, DD
www.virtueonline.org
November 28, 2017

The search committee of XXXXX says that it seeks a bishop who:

Loves the Church more than the Lord of the Church and can articulate why it is important to be an Episcopalian as opposed to being an Anglican or Roman Catholic with rigidly held views.

Whether leading a meeting, preaching and celebrating the Eucharist, or meeting one-on-one with individuals, he must be an administrative leader who can count and know when a parish is no longer viable and if it is time to close the doors and take the remaining endowment before it all runs out.

A bishop must actively tend to his own interior life and is "lit up enough" (with whiskey, hence the term Whiskeypalian) for all to see and join him/her in a fifth whenever possible.

Will lead the Diocese into a shared mission, vision and direction. We dream of a diocese that respects the diversity of God's people regardless of gender, age, economics, ethnicity and sexual orientation, especially the last with the hope that a transgendered person will ascend a pulpit and turn the Bible completely on its head over sexuality preferences. We as a diocese can't wait to ordain a person who is LGBTQIIIXXXxxx1212, anything less will be considered homophobic.

We seek a visionary, action-oriented leader who, after getting to know the people, structures and culture of this diocese, is prepared to help articulate and activate a congregation mostly over the age of 65 into priorities for the coming years...and beyond the grave...priorities that fully embrace our Baptismal Covenant and hope to God that anyone wearing a pants or skirt (or both) will darken the red doors before they have to close forever and allow a continuing care center be built next to the church, for those Episcopalians living beyond 92.

Equip congregations of all sizes for evangelism and mission, but under no circumstances must you tell people that they are sinners in need of a savior. That is way too exclusive. We want to include everybody under the banner of the Jesus Movement and "beloved community," which is basically a knockoff of the reign of God but more secular and inclusive.

We want to embrace Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's call for evangelism, however that is defined, as part of the Jesus Movement which we hope will excite people into smiling a lot, jumping up and down in the pulpit and talking endlessly about racism, even if the diocese can't actually spot or know a racist. (If it does turn out to be 88-year old Mildred who once called a black man "Uncle Tom", she should forthwith be excommunicated from the church).

Amid uncertainty about what the church will look like in this post-Christendom age, we seek a bishop who brings an entrepreneurial spirit and encourages holy risk-taking to help equip congregations for creative evangelism and mission in the communities we serve, especially we hope he will reach out to the LGBTQIIIXXXxx1212 community with a special focus on transgender folk who insist on using parish toilets on gay pride parade days. We believe this is an act of inclusivity at its highest.

A bishop must demonstrate a collaborative leadership style but not too much, as we don't want to upset the natural order of things.

Clergy and lay people, adults and children alike, gladly bring an abundance of gifts, talents, perspectives and energy to the work they do for their churches and for the diocese. The bishop will, of course, have the last say, and if any priest or lay leader starts to show signs of spiritual life, like wanting to start Bible studies, prayer meetings for the survival of the Church and express an interest in leading people to Christ, then that person should be told to go.

A bishop must build and maintain meaningful relationships with clergy, staff and diocesan leaders. The bishop will see how much relationships matter at all levels of the diocese and how connected we are to one another (despite the miles between us). The diocese seeks a humble, pastorally minded individual who will take the time to get to know people, pay attention and be present and not touch them inappropriately, nor admit to past adulterous relationships, refrain from bullying when he can't get his way, and know how to balance a check book and to encourage youth in the church if he can find any.

A bishop who will fully support the life and ministry of small congregations. Most small congregations are actively going out of business, so it is important to find someone, anyone who can support the life of a church. The church might even be willing to fund from its endowment a person who knows how to chat up lesbitransgays and be willing to spend time at Starbucks coffee shops and local bars getting to know people. He must know how to talk up inclusion and diversity but not salvation which is way too exclusive.

With most dioceses having more than half of its churches being served by part-time, non-stipendiary or supply clergy, we seek a bishop who does not see a small congregation as a problem to be solved and who recognizes that "small and mighty" churches have as much to offer as the "large and powerful" ones. We especially need a bishop who champions knowing real estate developers who can find a buyer for when the church doors close forever.

We seek a bishop who works outside conventional structures and boundaries. A bishop should know how to listen and listen and listen, and even though he has no solutions or answers, he should show significant empathy in the face of the abyss that lies before him.

We seek a bishop who courageously engages in healthy conflict resolution. We know conflict is a normal aspect of human interactions and provides opportunity for growth. However, our recent history suggests a pattern of conflict avoidance. We seek a leader who provides a non-anxious presence and who can facilitate difficult situations and conflict in healthy, creative and constructive ways. We believe this ability requires both a steady presence and a prophetic voice. When this fails, the bishop retains the authority to throw the priest out, especially if he is orthodox in faith and morals, padlock the doors, (like the bishop did in Los Angeles), and then turn it into a mission, and put in his own man/woman who will inevitably close the doors. It's important that the right person be in place to perform this function and can give appropriate Last Rites for a church.

The most important thing to remember as a bishop is, that it doesn't matter how bad you are, you will always have a fat pension to look forward to courtesy of the Church Pension Fund which has done a better job growing your money than the Episcopal Church has done making new converts. Fiat Lux.

END

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