Don House, chair of the South Central Jurisdiction Committee on the Episcopacy.
Statement from the Chair: June 8, 2012
The South Central Episcopacy Committee spent many months developing formal evaluation tools for active bishops. As part of that process, the full committee met individually with each active bishop on February 6-7, 2012. Bishop Bledsoe’s schedule conflict at that time resulted in an additional called meeting with him to complete our work. In advance of this full committee meeting, three members of our committee met with him on March 27 to review our materials.
Bishop Bledsoe met with the full committee on May 24. This meeting represented the completion of our evaluation of all active bishops in the jurisdiction. The evaluation of each bishop was extensive, including the use of a variety of metrics.
The results of our evaluation of Bishop Bledsoe were mixed. While having some skills as a spiritual leader, his administrative skills, relational skills, and style remain in question based upon our own evaluation tools and through conversations with North Texas Annual Conference leaders. We discussed these results, reports, issues and specific examples with Bishop Bledsoe.
Following our discussions with Bishop Bledsoe, our committee took a single action—that of requesting Bishop Bledsoe’s retirement effective August 31, 2012. I, along with one additional member of our committee, met with Bishop Bledsoe on May 29 to deliver our committee’s request for an early retirement.
At the end of that meeting, Bishop Bledsoe made his decision to retire early. It was a difficult decision for him and one influenced by additional information presented in the meeting. Our committee had already pledged to schedule a hearing in which a vote would be taken, according to the Book of Discipline, to consider involuntary retirement if he chose not to retire early. Additionally, based upon the written and oral evaluations, we found no members of our committee (who represent all of our episcopal areas) who felt Bishop Bledsoe would be an effective episcopal leader in their annual conferences. His decision to choose early retirement was understandable.
In my earlier statements to the press about Bishop Bledsoe’s retirement announcement, I purposely withheld some of the above information. Our committee deemed this information confidential and appropriately felt that withholding such information as confidential would be of personal benefit to Bishop Bledsoe, given his decision to retire early.
On June 1, Bishop Bledsoe released his public statement announcing his early retirement. On June 5, at the end of the meeting of the North Texas Annual Conference, Bishop Bledsoe reversed this decision and discussed specifics of his evaluation.
Our committee has scheduled a hearing on July 10 to consider the question of involuntary retirement.
Donald R. House, Chair
Editorial Note: According to Mr. House, it will take a two-thirds vote of the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee to place Bishop Bledsoe on involuntary retirement.