Friday, May 05, 2006

You can bet on it!


Tomorrow the Episcopal Church in the San Francisco Bay Area (officially the Diocese of California) will elect a new bishop. Delegates from the various parish churches and the members of the clergy, separately, will vote, probably repeatedly, until one of the seven candidates gets a majority from both sets of electors. The election is the end of a yearlong process that climaxed with the candidates being grilled by about 2000 members of the denomination in six open meetings in one week. To become bishop of this diocese, you have to survive ordeal by popular interrogation. All the candidates seem to have held up pretty well.

Outside the diocese, there is intense interest in whether we'll select one of the three candidates who are open, partnered gay priests. In the worldwide Anglican Church and in pockets in the U.S., such a choice would be a scandal. But I have to say that in the small, mostly gay, Episcopal parish where I am a member, the sexual orientation of the candidates is barely an issue. Oh sure, we wouldn't mind at all if our church further affirmed our equality by selecting a gay bishop. But mostly we just want a good bishop, someone who can lead a fractious, diverse, and inclusive community. The focus on sexual orientation feels voyeuristic, a little prurient.

Election junkies can follow tomorrow's balloting live at the Diocesan website.

UPDATE: MAY 6, 2006: Paddypower.com will have to pay out some on this one. The Right Rev. Mark Andrus has been elected Bishop of California on the third ballot.

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