Episcopal Committee Report - Dr. Tom Pace
The Texas Annual Conference Committee on the Episcopacy has been preparing a profile for what we believe is needed in our next episcopal leader. The profile document has been given to Don House and Elijah Stansell, who represent our annual conference on the Jurisdictional Committee on the Episcopacy, which will meet again in July, immediately after Jurisdictional Conference, to make assignments of bishops to episcopal areas. We hope this will give them the support they need to bring just the right bishop to our annual conference for the next quadrennium.
In order to do this, representatives of the Committee on the Episcopacy met with the Core Leadership Team twice, the Cabinet, and our elected delegates to Jurisdictional and General Conference, as well as a wide range of individual leaders in our conference. In addition, a survey was distributed to delegates to annual conference and clergy, with questions about what we need. We had a large response to that survey.
Our conclusions, based on the input we received, is as follows:
- The Texas Annual Conference is well positioned by our size, demographics and strategic-sized churches to lead the South Central Jurisdiction in church renewal and re-formation. The Texas Annual Conference can be a catalyst for renewal of all Annual Conferences in the Jurisdiction.
- The Texas Annual Conference is large and complex, and needs leadership that is capable and experienced in working in complex systems.
- The Texas Annual Conference would welcome a bishop who will help us continue our progress, and provide clear leadership toward a higher level of impact on our mission field. It is our hope that this bishop will cultivate a culture that is focused on reaching new people for Jesus Christ, and negotiate the challenges that face our denomination in such a way that our annual conference is not distracted from that mission. (One of the questions we considered was how open the Texas Annual Conference is to change. It is our belief that while we have made great progress, we know there is a ways to go before we begin to grow again. We are anxious for a leader who will not rest on his or her laurels, but really push us to move forward.)
- The leadership of our annual conference believes that innovation is key, and will embrace a leader who is not afraid to try and fail.
- The leadership of the conference is open to and responsive to strong leadership that has a collaborative and relational style. This collaborative leadership style is essential in helping to build alignment in an Annual Conference that has significant geographic, congregational size, and theological diversity.
- At this time in the Texas Annual Conference’s history, the three most significant qualities we need in an episcopal leader are:
- Deep spiritual Christ-centered Biblical grounding and leadership
- Bold leadership with a willingness to align resources and appointments behind clear strategies
- Collaborative: ability to work with diverse groups of people and perspectives
- The three most significant priorities we would hope our new bishop would embrace are:
- Developing a Spirit-led culture among both laity and clergy that prioritizes reaching new people for Christ
- Continue to implement strategies to grow the church, increasing worship attendance and other measures of discipleship.
- Moving proactively and effectively to reach more diverse populations, including young people, the urban core, and our growing Hispanic populations
In conclusion, let me say that in my conversations with various stakeholders around the conference, I often get feedback that wants us NOT to get a particular candidate, and the name that is given varies based on the perspective of the speaker. Personally, when I consider all the likely candidates to be our next bishop, I think all of them will lead us well. None of them are laissez faire bishops who will simply ride along. All of them will challenge us to reach more people for Christ, and work to make good things happen in our conference.
What is most important is how we get behind the bishop when he or she comes to lead us. There are churches that love their pastors and churches that don’t love their pastors. We are an annual conference that loves our bishop, and we will follow a bishop who is willing to move us forward. As for me, I would run through a wall for Bishop Huie, and I will be willing to run through a wall for our next bishop too.
I, for one, look forward that to that day in July, when at Jurisdictional Conference in Wichita, I can lock arms with our new bishop and say, “Hey Bishop, let’s go change the world.”