Frequently Asked Questions
We don’t elect a new bishop very often, so there may be a lot of questions surrounding the procedure. Please look at these Frequently Asked Questions and if you still have a question you may contact the Standing Committee directly.
Why is the timeline for selecting the new bishop so long?
- The average length of recent searches in other dioceses.
- Canonically defined time frames (such as the need to have consent to the election).
- The Presiding Bishop’s availability to consecrate the new bishop.
Most importantly, in order to achieve the best outcome, it is imperative that we allow ourselves the necessary time to gather and consider the concerns and counsel of the people of the Diocese of California. This information will be critical in the selection of the 9th Bishop of California.
Is the search and transition timeline set in stone?
No. The timeline will have additions as milestones and events are planned by the Standing Committee and the Search and Transition Committee. The search leaders will also be conducting listening sessions and the timeline might be changed as a result of feedback from members of the diocese.
When will the Search and Transition Committee members be announced?
The members of the Search and Transition committee will be announced at the Diocesan Convention in October.
Who oversees the search process and how does it work?
The Standing Committee has overall responsibility for the search and transition process. There is a great deal of flexibility in how the Standing Committee chooses to perform and implement the search, so the process does vary slightly from diocese to diocese. The Search and Transition Committee will have primary responsibility for the search process. Their work will be managed by the Search Co-Chairs. The Standing Committee will receive regular updates and retain overall leadership of the process.
What is a Bishop Coadjutor?
A bishop coadjutor is an assistant bishop with the right of succession upon the resignation of the diocesan bishop. We will be electing the ninth bishop of the Diocese of California as a bishop coadjutor so that the new bishop can work with Bishop Marc for two months prior to his official retirement. The bishop coadjutor will then become the bishop diocesan.
Who may be nominated?
The Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church allow for anyone who is at least 30 years old and “has been duly ordered Deacon and Priest” to be elected bishop. The Diocese of California adheres to Canon III.1.2 of the canons of The Episcopal Church, i.e., that: “No person shall be denied access to the discernment process or to any process for the employment, licensing, calling, or deployment for any ministry, lay or ordained, in this Church because of race, color, ethnic origin, immigration status, national origin, sex, marital or family status (including pregnancy and child care plans), sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disabilities or age, except as otherwise provided by these Canons. No right to employment, licensing, ordination, call, deployment, or election is hereby established.”
Can anybody nominate a candidate?
Yes. You don’t have to be a member of the Diocese of California to make a nomination. Any eligible priest or bishop may be nominated regardless of their home diocese. It’s typical for nominations to come from across the Episcopal Church. Both lay and ordained people can submit a nomination—as long as the person being nominated gives their permission to be a part of the process. Candidates may also self-nominate.
Can a bishop from another diocese be nominated?
Yes. But they must have served their diocese for no less than five years before they are able to seek election in another diocese.
What happens once a candidate's application is received?
The application will include several different parts: a basic information form, a current resume, answers to essay questions, and additional information. Search and Transition Committee members will read and study all these documents for each candidate. Then we will begin the serious process of discerning who should move forward.
Once the list of candidates is narrowed down to semi-finalists, Search and Transition Committee members will begin to interview candidates in person or on Zoom. Then we will invite a smaller group of people to attend an in-person retreat. During the process, all candidates will be vetted through background and reference checks. Their bishops will be consulted to confirm that they are clergy members in good standing.
We will listen to candidates’ experiences, the gifts they bring, their hopes and vision for their ministry, and their understanding of what it means to be an Episcopalian at this time and in this place. We hope that candidates will recognize a call to the office of bishop, as well as being a bishop for this diocese.
Throughout the process, we will be praying for God’s vision and purpose. We welcome your prayers and support.
How many candidates will be presented for election?
This is a hard question to answer. It depends on the number of people who apply to be candidates, the number of people who the Search and Transition Committee members discern to be good candidates, and whether or not all of the candidates continue through the process. In most dioceses, the number is somewhere between three and five – but that isn’t a formal rule.
As the search process continues, will you let nominators know if their nominees are still under consideration?
No. We won’t comment on whether someone is or was a candidate or where they are in the process. This is for the integrity of our process as well as the privacy of those who are nominated. If someone asks, we can’t tell you, so please don’t ask.
Will there be additional nominations from the floor?
No. In fairness to the nominees and the people of the diocese, all nominations must be in by the closing dates TBD. This will allow the people to get to know the nominees through the nomination process and the walkabout and will also allow the required background checks to be completed.
What are petition candidates?
The Standing Committee and Search and Transition co-chairs are committed to a wide-ranging and fair bishop selection process. The Episcopal Church developed a petition process to allow for individuals who feel called to candidacy but have not been identified or vetted as candidates in the Search and Nominating process. Because we do not allow nominations from the floor, the petition process serves as a reasonable substitute, allowing additional nominees to go through the background checks and walkabouts along with the committee-selected nominees. All priests and bishops in good standing, and who conform to canonical requirements, can be nominated through the petition process. The details of the process will be posted closer to the time that the process can be activated.
How does the election work?
The Search and Transition Committee will present a slate of candidates to the Standing Committee for their approval, and they’ll announce that slate to the diocese in the fall of 2023. The Standing Committee will formally call for an electing convention. Clergy and deanery representatives will gather at Grace Cathedral on Saturday, December 2, 2023 in a special electing convention of the diocese. These delegates will gather in the same space, but will vote separately for the candidate of their choice. A candidate is elected only when a majority of both orders (lay and ordained) concur on the same ballot for the election of the same person.
When will the new bishop start their ministry?
The current plan is for the new bishop to be consecrated in May of 2024 and begin work in June.