I had spent some time thinking about what I wanted to say to the committee, but I had no idea what the format of the meeting would be. In fact, the committee had developed a series of questions, and participants were asked to pair off and interview one another, recording responses to the questions on a form provided. The relevance of some of the questions was not immediately apparent to me, but I was pleased that the questions were general enough that I could say all that I wanted to say to the committee.
After participants were given about half an hour to complete their interviews, the forms were collected, and the floor was opened to questions and comments. Since people had already said much of what they wanted to say, the question period was brief, though several matters of interest were raised:
- Several people expressed the view that no candidates should come from our own diocese. Dana made it clear that the committee intended to consider all potential candidates on the basis of their qualifications, showing no preference as to sex, race, canonical residence, etc. (Personally, I think the committee should have a strong, if not absolute, prejudice against local candidates, who would necessarily elicit strong reactions, both pro and con, when their candidacy is announced.)
- I suggested that candidates should not be too young. (Dana noted that objections have been raised in other parishes both to very young and to very old candidates.)
- It was suggested that candidates should be “moderates.” (I, on the other hand, want to see candidates as liberal as we can get away with. I am tired of our diocese being on the fringes of The Episcopal Church. I want a bishop in the Episcopal Church mainstream, not the Pittsburgh mainstream—i.e., 20 years behind the times.)
- Concern was raised about the dangers of nominations from the floor. (Bob Duncan was nominated from the floor.) Dana assured the group that such nominations would not be allowed.
- The committee was warned to avoid candidates that seem too eager to be bishop.
I found the program reassuring. The Nomination Committee seemed sincere in its soliciting the views of the people of the diocese. It will be interesting to see what kind of profile emerges from the data the committee is collecting. If the committee is truly committed to transparency, it will also release its raw data.