Well done, General Convention!
Now I am sure that 99% of you think I am going to congratulate or condemn General Convention for passing a rite for the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions. But I’m not. I may comment on that another day.
For the moment I am so happy that a majority of the delegates have at last paid attention to my views on the office of the Presiding Bishop, which I have been voicing for decades, and voted that the next Presiding Bishop may retain his or her Diocese. Bishop White of Pennsylvania must be chuckling in the heavenly places, because that is exactly what he did, not once but twice.
The American Episcopal Church (I will not call it THE Episcopal Church, since we all know that that is in Scotland!) is the only Church of the Anglican Communion whose chief Bishop has no diocese. And this is bad ecclesiology. The Archbishop of Canterbury has his own Diocese of Canterbury as well as his role as Primate of All England. Even the Pope is Bishop of Rome as well as Patriarch of the West.
The Presiding Bishop does have immediate jurisdiction over the Convocation of the American churches in Europe, but she has a Suffragan Bishop to look after them, and there are only 8 or 9 parishes. So she is able to spend her whole time looking after the American Church. Or, some would say, so much time on her hands that she has had to invent ways of interfering with the dioceses of the American Church, which, after all, have perfectly good Bishops to do that job without her. This has resulted in much chaos and law suits.
If she had kept her little diocese of Nevada, she would have been able to go there every weekend at least to confirm children, ordain priests, visit churches, listen to and talk to vestries – all the duties and joys of a Bishop’s ministry. During the week in New York (or soon, one hopes, Kansas City or Memphis or Buffalo, or wherever it is decided to relocate the National Offices, which should be wherever properties are cheap or free – as in a redundant church) she would have a much reduced staff to do the few things dioceses want the central church offices to do for them.
So you see, in that little resolution, which has been pushed aside by the hype over Gay Marriage, lies the seed of a revolution in the office of the Presiding Bishop which will, in my opinion, prove much more important for the future of the American Church than anything else decided at General Convention.