Searching High and Low

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The Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Dakota has invited Robin Bowen to serve as the Lay Co-Chair and The Reverend Chris Roussell to serve as the Clergy Co-Chair of the Search and Nominating Committee in the search for our next bishop. Filling out the remainder of our discernment team are clergy members:

  • The Rev. Bunker Hill
  • The Rev. Mercy Hobbs
  • The Rev. Tony Buquor (retired)
  • Deacon Marty Garwood
  • Deacon Twilla Two Bulls.

Diocesan laity are represented by:

  • Anthony “Sam” Kitto
  • John Red Bear
  • Mike LaFontaine
  • Carol Cloud Eagle
  • Carol Smith.

Our consultant in the process is the very capable and experienced Rev. Thad Bennett from Massachusetts.

The Search/Nominating Committee serves at the direction of the Standing Committee. Our portion is only one piece of the larger picture. You can read more about the Standing Committee’s role in an article written by Standing Committee President The Rev. Dr. Lauren Stanley.

One of our goals for this process is transparency. There’s nothing secretive about how we elect a bishop in the Episcopal Church. However, there will come a time when confidentiality will be of the utmost importance when initial nominations are made and deliberations begin. Once a viable set of candidates is provided by the Search/Nominating Committee to the Standing Committee, the Standing Committee will then present the names and biographies of the individuals to everyone in the diocese. That being said, there’s lots of work that goes on between where we are today and the consecration of the next bishop.

It all started with a retreat with the Search/Nominating Committee and Standing Committee on February 16 and 17, facilitated by Thad. The retreat was designed around team building, but also demonstrated the great diversity we have on our committees. The Standing Committee must be commended for their good work in achieving balance and diversity from across the diocese.

The work of the Search/Nominating Committee is best outlined by an explanation of the subcommittees at work and their responsibilities. Our first task was to elect a Clerk, someone who takes minutes of our meetings and communicates with the diocese to keep the flow of information going. Carol Smith of Yankton was elected our Clerk. We are grateful for her willingness to share her gifts and talents with us.

The Profile/Survey Sub-Committee will begin evaluating the best tools and methods for getting input from across the diocese. A clergy retreat will soon be scheduled so that the priests and deacons can prayerfully consider where we’ve been, where we are, and where we feel the Holy Spirit calling us forward.  The laity will also have a huge voice in this part of the process as well. As soon as the method for gaining information is determined, we will let everyone know and encourage your input. Begin praying for the Diocese of South Dakota and reflecting on our strengths, core values, and opportunities for growth or improvement.

The Screening/Interview Sub-Committee’s initial conversations will be to determine the best ways to interview candidates who rise to the surface based solely on their application. Consultant Thad Bennet suggested that we are not seeking to eliminate anyone from consideration, rather we are seeking those applications who “rise to the surface” as being a good fit for our needs and our culture.

The Discernment Retreat Sub-Committee has the responsibility of identifying retreat options for those candidates who are nearing the election process. The Search/Nominating Committee will gather with those candidates and meet with them in person for prayer, fellowship, and further discussion. Obviously, this is part of the process that will be handled confidentially to protect the integrity of the process, but also to honor the privacy of the applicants. We welcome questions about the process, but must guard information relating to candidates.

The Communications Sub-Committee will be in constant touch with Mo. Lauren Stanley prior to publishing information since the Standing Committee is ultimately responsible for the entire process. Once items are approved, this committee will send information to the diocese for publication on our diocesan website, email distribution, or other methods of communication.

It’s probably obvious, but still worth noting that the Search/Nominating Committee’s work is extensive. And, yet, we are still only one small piece of the larger picture! Add to our piece of the puzzle, the timeline set forth by the Standing Committee and our ordinary “every day” responsibilities with families, parishes, organizations, and diocesan committees. It could easily seem overwhelming. However, everyone involved in this process – and that’s everyone in our diocese – must remain rooted in prayerful discernment. The Holy Spirit will guide us.

Somewhere “out there” (or closer, perhaps) is our next bishop. They are going about their daily work, not even knowing that God will be sending them to us. Take a moment to pray for that individual. Ask the Lord Jesus Christ to stir their hearts, minds, and souls. When it is all said and done, we hope to look back on this process and not see the work of mere human beings, but the hand of God using us as instruments to bring about the Holy and Eternal Will of our Creator.

We ask for your continued prayers as embark upon this process, entrusting our work to the Holy Spirit.

In Christ the Good Shepherd,

The Rev. Chris Roussell        Robin Bowen
Clergy Co-Chair                    Lay Co-Chair