CUSTOMARY FOR BISHOP’S VISITATIONS
Visiting all of the worshiping communities in the Episcopal Diocese of South Dakota is one of the principle responsibilities of my ministry with you. It is also one of the great delights and joys of this office! In order that everything goes as smoothly as possible, this customary has been put together to help us to prepare for these events. As no document can answer every question, do raise a question if there is an issue that is not covered by what follows.
The most central acts of every episcopal visitation is the preaching of God’s Word and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist with the clergy and people of the congregation. When there are baptisms and confirmations, we shall celebrate those people and give thanks to God for the commitments being made and for the growing of God’s kingdom! In addition, the visitation gives us an opportunity to share fellowship with one another and rejoice as the community of saints who have been planted for ministry in your particular part of God’s kingdom.
The scheduling of visitations is initiated out of the Diocesan Office. The current Bishop’s Visitation Schedule has been created to cover the months of November and December (2019) and all the months through 2020. Even with great care given to the schedule, there will be some need for flexibility. There will be weather issues, personal illness, travel delays and a host of other things that may require last minute rescheduling. Changes will be kept to a minimum, but from time to time they will occur and we will meet those challenges together as they arise. If a visitation date needs to be rescheduled, some dates have been set aside in the schedule as being “Open for Visitation Make Up.” These have been strategically placed in the schedule and so I ask that these dates not be used as alternatives for a date that your congregation has been assigned a visitation.
If the date you have been given does not work with the life of your congregation, please feel free to contact another congregation on the schedule to make a switch and then notify the Diocesan Office. Please note: a switch in dates is not official until both you and the other clergy person have been contacted by the Diocesan Office. I truly do not wish to show up on the right day….at the wrong church.
Please schedule an appointment with Marlys Fratzke to visit with me either by phone or in person in the month prior to the visit so that we may review the day. This conversation should take place no less than two weeks before the date of the visitation. Please provide me with a copy of the order of service to review with you during this conversation. This document may be emailed or mailed to the diocesan office. In addition, let me know if the context of your congregation calls for particular vestments (rochet and chimere / mitre and chasuble) as well as any other particular customs or practices such as chanting the Eucharist.
THE LITURGY OF THE DAY
I am anticipating that all visitations will be celebrations of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharistic Prayers may be chosen from the options in the Book of Common Prayer or from other sources approved by General Convention. When there are no baptisms, confirmations, or receptions, the liturgy on the day of the visitation should include the renewal of baptismal vows. This should be substituted for the Nicene Creed at all services. I suggest that we use the format on page 292 of the Book of Common Prayer, including the final collect.
The Proper of the Day will also be used, even when initiation rites are to take place, and my preference is that the liturgical color of the season be the color of that day during the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, the Day of Pentecost and other feast Sundays. During Ordinary Time, the liturgical color should be white when a baptism or confirmation is being celebrated; otherwise, the liturgical color will be green.
Because every liturgical space has its own challenges, I will generally plan to preside from the place from which it is normally done — so please let me know where this space is. If there is to be a service of confirmation or reception, please consult with me as to the location of the Bishop’s chair if the chair is indeed moveable.
The Rector / Mission Clergy should make the necessary congregational announcements. If the announcements are made prior to the offertory sentence, please remind the congregation that the undesignated offering is to go to the Bishop’s discretionary fund for support of emergencies and nonbudgeted ministries that arise in the course of the year.
WHEN THERE ARE BAPTISMS
The Book of Common Prayer notes that a Bishop’s Visitation is one of the especially appropriate times for Holy Baptism. The rubrics on page 298 of the Book of Common Prayer clearly outline the roles of the Bishop and the Priests during a service of baptism. Please refer to these rubrics for the service. Please also notify the Diocesan Office in advance if chrism is required. Otherwise, I will anticipate that you have an adequate supply.
WHEN THERE ARE CONFIRMATIONS, RECEPTIONS AND/OR REAFFIRMATIONS
When there is to be confirmation, reception or reaffirmation at a parish visitation, candidates may come in the most convenient order. Please use name tags or a card to identify the names of candidates. If at all possible, I would like to meet with those being confirmed, received, or who are reaffirming their baptismal vows prior to the service.
It is required by Canon that the Bishop review the Parish Register during the visitation. So please have the appropriate registers available for me to review.
If there are “quirks” in finding the location of your congregation that my GPS would not know, please provide me with a good set of directions and phone numbers.
If you have a parking lot and it’s expected to be crowded, please reserve a space for me.
A form is being provided for you to fill out for the visitation. If the visit involves more than one church, please fill out a form for each visitation.
If you have a set of people who are ready to be confirmed or received into the Church and yet your congregation is not scheduled for a visit for many months, please call the Diocesan Office to inquire about the possibility of a weeknight service.