The Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference is quickly approaching. In order to help with transparency, I emailed all the individuals nominated for the Episcopacy by either Annual Conferences or affiliated groups with the following 10 questions:
1. Please introduce yourself - describe briefly your experience and qualifications to be a bishop and list churches/ministries you have served.
2. Are you a member of any affiliated groups or caucuses? If so, please tell why you have chosen to join these groups. Please include official and unofficial groups.
3. Describe one situation in which you have succeeded in ministry. How did this help develop your skills as a minister and leader?
4. Describe one situation where things have not gone as you planned. How have these roadblocks influence you or taught you to modify your plans?
5. Explain your thoughts on how the ministry of the laity and clergy intersect, and how clergy and lay persons should relate to one another.
6. What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing the UMC in the upcoming years? How would you help solve this issue?
7. I've heard the position of bishop described in multiple ways. One is being the pilot of a ship, steering clear of large obstacles but maintaining the course set by General Conference. Another is that of a prophet providing the church with outspoken leadership. Is there a metaphor that would represent your understanding of the role of bishop?
8. Recently, a group of retired bishops wrote a letter encouraging the Church to change the Book of Discipline to allow more inclusion of LGBT persons as pastors. What is the role of the bishop in a situation such as this? Is it acceptable for bishops to take a public position in opposition to the Book of Discipline? If so, are there any limits to taking stances contrary to state United Methodist positions? If not, explain how a bishop should handle disagreement with official church policy.
9. In a tweet, explain what your goals as bishop would be for your first quadrennium of service? (a tweet is 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation)
10. How can people contact you with questions that they have prior to Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference?
As of toda (July 9), I have heard from about half of the nominees. Most have finished their interview, but there have been a few scheduling conflicts that may push back publication. It has been a joy and blessing to read the responses - we are blessed with intelligent, caring, Holy Spirit-filled nominees.
The following is a brief schedule for the week that will give you an idea of which interview will be published each day. They are in no particular order, and I am planning on releasing 2 per day, so that it isn't overwhelming to read.
The basic schedule as of today looks like this:
Monday, July 9: Randy Cooper (Memphis) and Farley Stuart (Red Bird)
Tuesday, July 10: Tim McClendon (South Carolina) and Larry Bryars (Alabama-West Florida)
Wednesday, July 11: Gray Southern (North Carolina) and Deborah McLeod (Florida)
Thursday, July 12: TBA
Friday, July 13: TBA
If you are an Episcopal nominee or know one that needs more information, please contact me at email@example.com.