April 12, 2012

More Analysis of the Pittsburgh Episcopal Candidates

I have already made the general case against electing the next Episcopal Bishop of Pittsburgh from within the diocese. (See “Pittsburghers Nominate Episcopal Candidate by Petition.”) I have also looked specifically at the only internal candidate, Scott Quinn. (See “Musings on the Candidacy of the Rev. Canon Scott Quinn.”) But what about the other candidates?

We should be pleased that the candidates identified by the Nominating Committee are an impressive group. I’m sure that those who will elect our next bishop have their favorites, but I think there is a widespread view that there is no obvious “best” candidate. I would be very surprised if we elected a bishop on the first ballot.

Although I have my own tentative ranking of the candidates, I have to admit that I am not at all certain that I have that ranking right.  I thought it would be helpful to write about some of the characteristics I considered in evaluating those standing for election. In this post, I will compare some of the more objective attributes of the candidates. In my next post, I will look at their work history and what that might tell us.

Age

Anyone who attended the recent walkabouts is unlikely to believe that any candidate is either too immature to be bishop or senile. One should not put too much emphasis on age, of course,  though it is fair to say that a younger candidate will likely serve us longer than an older one. (A very young, impressive bishop could possibly leave to become bishop in a larger diocese, but I don’t think that any of our candidates are that young or our diocese that undesirable.) Put another way, we will be stuck with a younger bishop longer, so we had better be sure of our choice. Correspondingly, an older bishop who does not work out need be tolerated only so long.

Frankly, I don’t see age as very important in this election, but here are the ages of the candidates, as best as I can determine:

Ambler
McConnell
Quinn
Runnels
Woodliff-Stanley
47
58
57
60
49

It is easy to group the candidates into two categories—younger and older. (I leave this as an exercise for the reader.)

Years in the Priesthood

The number of years a candidate has been a priest might be seen as a more relevant characteristic than age. I haven’t checked exact dates, so any of these numbers might be off by one. For what it’s worth, I’ve indicated the dioceses where the priests were ordained:

Ambler
McConnell
Quinn
Runnels
Woodliff-Stanley
11
Maine
28
New York
28
Pittsburgh
27
Mississippi
20
Mississippi

It is curious that two candidates are from Mississippi, though neither is in Mississippi now. Ambler is the baby priest in this group, though remember that Katharine Jefferts Schori had nearly the same number of years in the priesthood when she was elected Presiding Bishop.

Education

Where someone went to school tells something about the person, though it might not be clear exactly what. Some candidates went to very good schools, however, and were especially successful. Here is a summary of undergraduate accomplishments, exhibiting as much information as I was able to find:

Ambler
McConnell
Quinn
Runnels
Woodliff-Stanley
A.B. (cum laude), Comparative Literature, Princeton University
B.A. (cum laude), Yale University
B.A., History,
University of Pittsburgh
B.S., Biology, Millsaps College
B.A, (with honors), Religion and Psychology, Swarthmore College

Only Runnels has an undergraduate degree in the sciences. Only Quinn and Runnels did not graduate with honors.

One can quibble over the quality and orientation of Episcopal seminaries. Here is a listing of where candidates earned their M.Div. degrees:

Ambler
McConnell
Quinn
Runnels
Woodliff-Stanley

Additionally, Runnels has just earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from Sewanee. Quinn has taken additional non-degree courses from Trinity.

Some of the candidates have additional educational experience or degrees outside the field of theology. Here is a summary:

Ambler
McConnell
Quinn
Runnels
Woodliff-Stanley
J.D. (magna cum laude), University of Michigan Law School
Fulbright Scholar, Paris
Graduate work in Immuno-pathology
M.S., Social Work, Columbia University School of Social Work

A law degree might be considered a plus in Pittsburgh in 2012 (or not).

To Be Continued

As noted earlier, in my next post, I will discuss the work history of the candidates.


Update: The promised post, likely my last on the candidates, can be read here.

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