Suggestions for finding a supportive diocese.
- I don't have any magic list of bishops guaranteed to support you, and am indeed glad that I do not, since bishops should not control the ordination process. Dioceses should. While some dioceses categorically deny ordination to lesbigays, not one categorically ordains us, nor should they, in my view. One way to choose a diocese that might be fit for you is to review dioceses which currently have a high percentage of lesbigays. While being single is not quite the same thing, my report on the placement of single clergy :http//andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/priests98.html#nevermarried probably correlates well with where lesbigay clergy have found the greatest welcome. Be sure to correlate this information with other information, however. For example, if a larger percentage of single priests clusters in a diocese where the official stance opposes the ordination of lesbigays, you know immediately the price that lesbigays have had to pay in that diocese.
- Ask the bishop directly. Bishops know their dioceses very well. Most good bishops don't want to usurp the role of diocesan reviewers, and most of them can give you a candid assessment of the questions of most concern locally. I am amazed at the number of people who bypass, or delay for years, this most important way find out anyone's attitude. Tell the bishop about yourself and why you want to relocate. Give no suggestion that you are expecting a commitment, and don't expect one. Remember, this bishop does not know you. If someone who knows you well also knows this bishop, ask that person to introduce you. If you and the bishop are to be at the same place, try to set up a meeting in advance. Read widely anything the bishop has written, and not just statements about lesbigay issues. Lesbigay issues will be a very small part of your collaboration in ministry. Your ministry will suffer if you find a bishop who likes lesbigays but has no interest in nor support for the kind of ministry you do best.
- Examine the bishop's public record on lesbigay issues:
- Has she or he signed the "Statement of Koinonia," http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/koinonia.html? In that statement bishops serve notice that they will indeed ordain otherwise qualified lesbigays and bless our relationships. Obviously some other bishops who will do so but never say so publicly, so do not limit your search solely to those who signed.
- How did the bishop vote on bellwether lesbigay issues through the 1994 General Convention? http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/belwet01.html. See each individual's vote on many issues by clicking on the bishop's name.
- How did the bishop vote on in roll call votes at the 1997 GC ? http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/votes_d.html
- Examine many more reports at my main page for the HoB, http://newark.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/hob.html
- Do not put too much stock in voting records: many good disciples make horrible decisions on the issues and marvelous decisions about persons. It is not important that your bishop vote for all lesbigay people: it is very important that your bishop be open to the presence of Christ in you and in your ministry. Some bishops with the worst voting records love and support their lesbigay clergy; some bishops with the best voting records don't care very much for any of their clergy.
- Keep in mind that dioceses which are very open (mine, The Diocese of Newark, is one of the most open) are known to be, and already have scads of such requests. As a member of the Standing Committee, I take seriously our vote on candidates, and attend all screening meetings of the Commission on Ministry from aspirancy onward. I am impressed with the quality of our candidates. We have the luxury of choosing only the creme-de-la-creme.
- Keep in mind too the schedule by which bishops might be expected to retire. You want someone likely to be in place through your entire process. See the bishops listed in order of age at http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/bishops/age.html#start. All bishops now retired, retired at an average of 63.85, as I noted in Quean Lutibelle's Reports on Episcopal Priests, 1998, at http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/priests98.html.
Using all the hard data, and other which you gather through your own networks, you should be able to make decisions for yourself far better than any that I might make for you, as the data will connect to other variables in your own life that I do not know about. If after looking at some of this you have questions, I'll gladly talk. It might be quicker if you just call. During the summer you can reach me day and night at home, 973-485-4503 and at that number during most evenings of the year.
Joy to you in your journey. May your ministry bring news genuinely good to absolutely everybody!
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