"The Chief Pastor"
Bishops represent and serve Christ and the Church as chief pastors, catechists, and missionaries in the tradition of the apostles. They are to confirm and ordain, and to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church.
The above words are taken from the ACNA Catechism (the essential teaching of the Anglican Church), answering the question, “What is the work of bishops?” Our bishop, the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, has faithfully served as the “chief pastor” of our diocese since its inception in 2011. Since the announcement of his retirement, the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic’s Committee on Nominations has been prayerfully working to present a slate of candidates to step into this role. This process is what we’ve been praying for in our Prayers of the People each week.
This past Sunday, “with the greatest enthusiasm, and with unbounded gratitude to Almighty God,” the Committee published the list of candidates: the Rev. David M. Hanke, the Rev. Patrick A. Ware, and the Rev. Christopher S. Warner. I encourage you to visit the Introducing the Candidates page to learn about the process and to get to know each candidate, so that you can be well informed on how to pray.
The Committee on Nominations also provides two vital practices for this season:
· “Practice prayer, not politics. Although we are electing a bishop, the process must be prayerful, not political. While it is perfectly acceptable for delegates to discuss candidates among themselves, candidates will not be talking with delegates, as this could be considered “politicking.” Please respect this, and avoid participating in conversation with a candidate about his candidacy. Also, please add David, Patrick, and Chris to your prayer list, and earnestly pray for them, their wives and families, and the Electing Synod on October 15, 2022, together with all its delegates.”
· “Practice discerning, not deciding. We are called to discern God’s will, not simply to make a decision. Take this time to prayerfully and carefully discern whom God is calling to lead and shepherd us. The decision is God’s; it is for us to discern His ‘good, pleasing, and perfect will.’ (Romans 12:2.)”
Be sure to pray as well for our delegates to the Electing Synod: Mike Harpster, Angie Morlu, and Andy Oravetz (alternate).
Your Pastor in Christ,
P.S. To read more about the role of a bishop, read “Why Bishops?” on Anglican Compass, and take a look at these passages: Isaiah 61:1–11; John 20:19–23; 21:15–19; Acts 20:17–35; 1 Timothy 3:1–7; Titus 1:7–9; 1 Peter 5:1–5; Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to Polycarp 1.2–2.2.