As part of our commitment to offer transparency wherever possible, the Search Committee has prepared this process overview for our Diocesan Household so that all might know the step-by-step actions we took to arrive at this wonderful slate of candidates for our Eleventh Bishop. We also hope that this document will aid the whole church in the fulfillment of the objectives of General Convention 2015's resolution D004, which created a task force to study Episcopal elections and appointments of Bishops.
The Search Committee and Transition Committee meet at the Benedict Inn in Indianapolis for a two-day retreat with The Very Rev. Ron Clingenpeel, a transition consultant appointed by the Standing Committee who works with the Episcopal Church’s Office of Pastoral Development. Both groups receive a charge outlining our responsibilities and each member signs their commitment to Confidentiality Agreement during a Eucharist and Liturgy of Commissioning.
Search Committee meets and begins with prayer and reflection. Group coordinates calendars, begins to develop process to receive constructive feedback from Diocesan congregations, members, and groups, and prepares educational materials for congregations to use about who a bishop is and what a bishop does. Search team sets up external website to communicate with diocese, potential applicants, and the larger church beyond the Diocese and a secure, internal website to share documentation, online discussions, and eventual applicant folders.
Search Committee invites everyone to attend Holy Conversations, a series of conversations for all diocesan members to help us discern the qualities we are seeking in our next bishop. Invitations were sent to every church, clergyperson, and anyone on Diocesan mailing list. Thirteen conversations were held between September 29 and December 12, 2015 in every Deanery, including one at Diocesan Convention, an online conversation, a conversation at Waycross with Youth attending Fall Retreat, a conversation in Spanish, a conversation with clergy only, and a conversation with diocesan staff. In total, over 250 people attended. Questions asked of the participants at the conversations are found here.
Search Committee meets in two intensive sessions to reflect on what we heard in Holy Conversations and to analyze the data received from the Diocesan Survey. With prayer, Search Committee prepares online Diocesan Profile outlining where we are, our strengths and challenges, and what we seek in a new bishop and formally submits completed profile to Standing Committee on December 31 for their review and consent to publish.
Standing Committee gives its consent for Search Committee to publish online Diocesan Profile, which is sent to every church, clergyperson, and anyone on Diocesan mailing list. Search Consultant shares profile with every active and retired Bishop in the Episcopal Church, every diocesan transition minister, and position is advertised on Facebook, Episcopal Digital Network, and placed in Positions Available on Office of Transition Ministry database to reach all active Episcopal clergy. Profile invites both nominations and self-applications, which are accepted until February 15, 2016 at midnight.
Prior to reviewing any applications or knowing any names of those who applied, Search Committee meets for day-long retreat with George Moore, member of Standing Committee and Diocesan Anti-Racism Committee, to discuss strategies for how to evaluate applications in a way that, as best as possible, evaluates applicants based on work experience and leadership qualities instead of race, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, age, or differing abilities. Search Committee unanimously agrees to a “blind” evaluation process, where the applicants’ resumes and supplementary materials are redacted to exclude any information about applicants’ locations, race, gender and gender identity, age, etc.
Nominations and applications deadline. 38 nominations received from members of the Diocese of Indianapolis, Episcopal bishops, Episcopalians in other dioceses and overseas. 40 applications received from potential candidates. Our consultant tells us this is one of the highest number of applicants a diocese has had in recent memory.
The Very Rev. Ron Clingenpeel, our Search Consultant and Transition Minister for Diocese of Western Louisiana, conducts initial checks on each applicant, which consist of telephone calls with Bishops or Transition Ministers who have canonical oversight over each applicant. Questions asked included: Is this applicant currently in good standing in your Diocese? Is there any issue (either in applicant’s personal life or congregation/ministry) we should be aware of before allowing this person’s name to move forward? (More thorough background checks are completed later in the process.) Initial checks satisfactorily completed on all applicants.
Search Committee Chair Pam Douglas goes through at least four markers in redacting applications. Redacted applications and profiles are shared with Search Committee members through internal website. Search Committee members review all 40 applications and evaluate each applicant’s resumé, Office of Transition Ministry profile, essay response, and any supplementary materials submitted. Members place each candidate’s experiences and qualities against our diocesan profile and look for skills, experience, and proficiency in eight key areas:
● Communications (including preaching)
● Capacity to lead change
● A gem that makes the applicant stand out in the pool of applicants
● Administrative or management experience
● Experience in leading an organization into a vision and developing an underlying strategy to serve that vision
● Multi-cultural experience
● Indication of a deep spirituality in their personal lives
● Experience with inclusion of those in the margins
Members record their evaluations of each applicant electronically, and these are sent to a common pool for tallying by a committee member.
Search Committee meets, with the impossible task of discerning which of our 40 wonderful applicants would move forward for interviews. Upon looking at the electronic evaluations submitted by every member, we determine there are at least 15 strong applicants with whom we would like to have conversations. We learn the names and identifying details of applicants (which, until this point, have been redacted). Search Committee sends thank-you letters to a pool of applicants not continuing in the process and remains in discernment about a smaller pool of applicants who have some, but not all of the qualities we seek. We agree to notify those applicants we will need a bit more time for discernment and promise to be back in touch with them prior to April 10.
MARCH 18 - APRIL 6
Search Committee members split into pairs of two (whenever possible, one lay person and one clergy person) and conduct recorded one-hour Google Hangout interviews with 15 applicants. Six questions are asked of each applicant:
- 1. We asked in advance that you prepare a short spiritual autobiography. We want to know more about your spiritual journey as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and why you are a part of the Episcopal Church. Will you share your story with us?
- 2. What is your vision for what the church can be in the Diocese of Indianapolis? What would your spiritual, theological and practical priorities be as you would begin your time as the Bishop of this Diocese?
- 3. What does diversity mean to you and how have you experienced it in your ministry and your life? How would your experiences enable you to continue to advance the leadership and ministry of the different types of diverse populations we have in this Diocese?
- 4. We have a special awareness of, appreciation for, and emphasis on the ministries of deacons in our diocese. Could you share with us your perspectives on how you’d serve with them and oversee and encourage their work?
- 5. Did you see in our profile our youth’s wish for a Bishop to camp with us? Just wondering: what do you think about that? How would you handle that?
- 6. What questions do you have for us?
After each interview, a video is posted to each applicant’s file on internal website so that all search committee members can view.
Search Committee members conduct reference checks with at least three references applicants have provided, including a lay person with whom they have served, clergy colleagues, and their current diocesan bishop. For consistency, the same nine questions are asked of every reference, including: Is there any reason why you cannot give your wholehearted support to (name’s) candidacy? Committee members share all reference checks on internal website.
Search Committee meets by conference call and group expresses our excitement at the pool of applicants before us. We unanimously agree that, of the 15 applicants we interviewed by video and whom we have reference checked, we believe our next Bishop is somewhere in this pool. Committee sends thank-you letters to remaining pool of applicants not continuing in the process.
Search Committee meets to discern which of our 15 applicants would move forward to a smaller group of 8-10 applicants to invite for an in-person retreat in May. Two applicants withdraw. Search Committee spends all day in discernment about the remaining 13 applicants, comparing their gifts and skills to the qualities needed in a bishop we outlined in our Diocesan Profile. We unanimously agree to invite nine candidates and their spouses/partners to come to the Diocese for a three-day retreat, and we send thank-you letters to remaining candidates not continuing in the process. (After our invitation, one candidate withdraws.)
Oxford Documents background checks begin on applicants remaining. These include written reference checks with every employer, church, diocese, and with every bishop an applicant has served, criminal background checks, motor records/violations checks, credit report checks, and written questions of each applicant.
Eight candidates and their spouses/partners fly into Indianapolis and are whisked to the Inn at DePauw in Greencastle for a three-day discernment retreat. (Note: in previous searches, candidates were visited in their home parishes. The newer practice in The Episcopal Church is to bring the pool of semi-finalist candidates together for a common retreat. This is more economical, establishes camaraderie among the candidates, and is, frankly, more helpful for a search committee to see what individuals are like among a larger pool of clergy and lay people, which is where they would spend their time as bishop.)
At the retreat, candidates spend time in rotating interview groups, meeting search committee members. Each candidate presents to the larger group of the search committee and his/her fellow candidates a teaching on the subject of his/her choice (these were very interesting!). Meals and worship are shared in common. Spouses/partners are treated to a tour of Indianapolis and visit cooperating ministries. Every candidate meets with Diocesan Chancellor for Behavioral Screening Questions, which cover personal, professional, or legal issues that may adversely affect the candidate or the diocese. Cross-check completed between Chancellor and Search Committee Chair regarding each candidate’s responses to Behavioral Screening Questions; all were satisfactorily answered. Each candidate films a video introduction to be used should they be nominated to the slate. Chaplain Gordon Chastain leads whole group in a morning of discernment exercises, including time for all on the labyrinth on DePauw’s campus built by St. Andrew’s, Greencastle. For stress relief, the entire group spends a hilarious evening at Greencastle’s bowling alley (where the Search Committee learned a lot about our candidates’ bowling abilities!).
Search Committee meets to discern which of our candidates would move forward to a slate of 3-5 finalists who will continue in the process. After much prayer, discernment, and conversation, a slate of four finalists is chosen that the Search Committee believes best meets the gifts, qualities, and skills articulated in the Bishop We Seek in our profile. Search Committee chair notifies all candidates (both continuing and not continuing) by telephone. Handwritten thank-you notes are sent to those candidates who will not proceed further in discernment.
In accordance with confidentiality agreement signed at initial retreat in July 2015, all online documentation regarding the candidates who did not continue to the slate is destroyed.
Search Committee Chair notifies Standing Committee Chair that slate has been selected.
Oxford Documents check satisfactorily completed on all candidates.
Standing Committee approves the slate of nominees.