Guest Blog – Initial Thoughts on Episcopal Elections

This is a guest blog from Eric Seiberling, who is a change management consultant with the Abreon Group and has a blog, www.itlunatics.com, that deals with creating change in large organizations. Eric was a delegate at the North Central Jurisdiction from the West Ohio Conference and experienced the Episcopal elections first hand. This will be a series of posts about the election process and some thoughts on how to improve it.

Over this summer, I had my first opportunity to experience an Episcopal election first hand. I had the opportunity to experience this process both as a voter and as someone helping run a candidacy. I discovered that there is a fine line that candidates try to walk between making yourself “available” for election and “running” for the office. The process is inherently “political” but also a matter of spiritual “discernment.”

All 11 candidates were exceptional people. They had a breadth of experience and a deep spirituality. It was not so much a matter of “do they have the initial qualifications” but how do I discern differences between the different candidates?

Prior to the Jurisdictional Conference in Grand Rapids, I received a number of mailings, postcards, personal letters, and websites to seek information. Most of them were the equivalent of “plain yogurt.” Everyone used many of the same terms like “bridge builder, visionary, leader, spiritual.” I spent a lot of time trying to read between the lines to figure out the encoded message about what they really believed.

The sessions during Jurisdictional Conference itself provided some additional ways to gain insights, but were limited as well. Most candidates said the same things …”I will gather a team together, listen to the chorus of voices, lead by consensus, etc.” I spent a lot of effort trying to discern the differences between candidates while they were trying to articulate their position in a way that had the broadest appeal. The simple question is, “Is this process the best way to elect a bishop?” So, over the next few weeks, we’ll open a few questions up for discussion …

  • What are the qualifications for a bishop?
  • Should we judge a candidate on performance? If so, what are the measures?
  • What is the right way for the electorate to get to know the candidates?

Do you have any experience at Jurisdictional Conference? Is this common across Jurisdictions? Feel free to post your experiences.

McCain, Obama and Warren – One Week Later

I finally got around to watching the Civil Forum on the Presidency hosted by Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. DVR is a great thing. I was looking forward to the interaction between Warren and each of the candidates, excited that the first time that they would be on the same stage after becoming presumptive nominees would be in a church, and interested to see if there would be anything unexpected or off the wall.

But, I was disappointed.

I only made it through Obama’s portion of the show before having to go to bed and I found myself having to fight to stay awake for what I did see. Maybe I was just tired last night or maybe the event was really not as good as I had anticipated.

One week later, instead of being a defining moment in the political season, I think that this event has passed quickly into the political drain of old news.

We the Purple

We the Purple by Marcia Ford is a look at independent voters in America with a Christian perspective. Ford has published several books with this latest addition taking her distinct perspective to the political arena.

We the Purple is both about and finds its primary audience in independent voters – those who do not claim a political party. Ford takes the reader through many aspects of the independent voter from the nuances of registration in states to the potential that the internet has for independent voters to organize. Included are many profiles of independent voters from across the country.

Ford writes in a very personal way and uses a mix of data, definitions and vignettes to draw attention to what she see as the plight of independent voters – lack of attention or respect. She often quotes others as a part of bringing the point home.

I enjoyed learning about independent voters and the political environment in various states in response to these voters. I find myself resonating with those who do not claim a particular political party, but did not find Ford’s description of the independent voter particularly compelling. I also found stereotypes of people of faith in response to politics that I do not believe are the case any longer. I recommend this book to those who are interested in learning more about independent voters.