Nominees Sought, Timeline Published by Midwest Diocese As Episcopal Selection Process Opened
The Midwest diocese of the OCA published today a timeline for its episcopal selection process that will culminate in an election to fill the See, made vacant by the untimely death of the late Archbishop Job at the regularly scheduled Diocesan Assembly to be held in Minneaspolis, MN, in early October 2010. The Diocese also published a letter opening the actual nomination process, seeking names of potential candidates who fulfill the canonical requirements of the office, as well as exhibit qualities sought by the Diocese. The letter opening the process and the attached timeline follow:
"February 16, 2010
Martyr Paul of Caesarea
To the Esteemed Clergy, Monastics, and Faithful of the Diocese of the Midwest:
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The Diocese of the Midwest is seeking a new pastor for our Diocese, a man who has, above all, a compassionate heart. According to the Statute of the Orthodox Church in America all candidates for this ministry must also fulfill the requirements set forth in Article VI, Section 9 as follows:
a. The candidate for the office of diocesan bishop must satisfy all the requirements of the Holy Canons pertaining to this highest of all ecclesiastical offices. In addition, it is preferable that he have completed a course of study in a Graduate School of Orthodox Theology and that he be conversant in the English language.
b. If he is not already a bishop, he can be nominated only from among the monastic or celibate clergy or laymen;
c. If at the moment of his nomination he is a layman or a celibate or widowed priest, he shall pronounce at least the first monastic vows (rasophoria).
d. Diocesan bishops of the Orthodox Church in America shall not be candidates for nomination by the Diocesan Assembly of another diocese.
The Diocesan Council has established two additional requirements of all candidates:
e. Candidates must possess a graduate degree from an accredited Orthodox theological institution; and
f. All candidates must have a minimum of 10 years of actual pastoral experience in North America. Preferably, such experience would consist of a minimum of 10 years of service in an Orthodox parish . The functional equivalent of such service (such as 10 years in the military chaplaincy; or 5 years minimum service in a parish with 5 years of additional experience teaching, or living in a monastic community, etc.) would be acceptable.
A Brief Description of the Person We Seek
These requirements, however, only begin to describe the man we seek; Our desired candidate is a seasoned pastor of souls, one who has shown selfless service to his flock, even during adversity. Willing to take on the burden of extensive travel in a far-flung diocese, to become a pastor to the pastors, he manifests a sense of joy in pastoral visitations. Dedicated to the energetic promotion of the Gospel, he is able to inspire his flock in the Orthodox faith through grace-filled preaching, teaching, and presiding in love. Spending time with diocesan youth is a pastoral priority. While eager to work toward Orthodox unity in North America he has displayed a deep commitment to the mission of the Orthodox Church in America in his previous ministries and is able to articulate a strategic vision for the Diocese of the Midwest. Of course this describes an extraordinary candidate, but it is our hope that serious candidates will embody many, if not most, of the above qualities.
To be an effective leader for this Diocese, the man we seek is one who has shown himself to be an effective servant-leader in his previous ministries. Ideally he would be able to grasp the administrative and spiritual needs of our large diocese and be able to address them with imagination, insight, and boldness. As has been our tradition, we expect he will work collaboratively with clergy and lay leaders in a conciliar decision-making process to accomplish these goals. We seek a pastor whose leadership has been shown to be neither defensive nor authoritarian in style, but tolerant and appreciative of honest disagreement and criticism (yet not averse to conflict when circumstances allow no other recourse). We seek someone who will see his ministry as one that empowers others in an atmosphere of mutual accountability, rather than an exercise in self-aggrandizement. We want someone who is not afraid to deal with difficult issues personally, and in a timely fashion. Leading by personal example, he will help us to obtain, allocate and assign the resources we need to accomplish the great mission of our local church.
Clearly anyone who undertakes such a ministry must be in good physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Financial stability and the ability to exercise self-care so as to avoid undue anxiety, burnout, depression or malaise, would help insure that professional stress does not become an overwhelming burden. We seek someone who is readily approachable to others, who is able to sustain life-giving, joyful relationships with a wide diversity of people, even as he remains dedicated to life of celibacy.
Such a ministry requires spiritual openness, willingness to change, and in particular, an awareness of one’s own shortcomings, grounded in humility. Moral integrity and courage, holiness in word and life, a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures and a spiritual life deeply rooted in a longstanding practice of prayer are essential for service as a bishop. As with all Christians, the man we seek strives to embody the love of Christ both privately and publicly. Sufficiently immersed in the truths of the faith, a bishop must also be able to serve as a guardian and teacher of Orthodoxy - an icon of ecclesial unity - without compulsively insisting for absolute conformity in all things. In serving the Divine Services, for example, he would be able to serve with dignity, yet in a spirit of simplicity, showing respect for legitimate liturgical variations rather than insisting on conformity for the sake of conformity.
If, after prayer and reflection, you have a name of a candidate for Bishop of Chicago you would like to share with the Diocesan Council for consideration, we ask that you consider the above requirements and description of the person we seek. To place a name in nomination, we ask that a letter summarizing that persons qualities be written and returned to the below address. Please return it to the Episcopal Search Committee, by mail or email, no later than 26 March, 2010.
Please send all nominations or questions to:
Email: email@example.com, or
U.S. Post: Episcopal Search Committee
927 N LaSalle St
Chicago, IL 60610
On behalf of the Episcopal Search Committee, I remain,
Yours in Christ,
Archpriest John Zdinak
"EPISCOPAL NOMINATION TIMELINE
For a Candidate for the Vacant See of the Bishop of Chicago, Diocese of the Midwest
February 16 - Aspiration Description/Invitation to Parishes issued (Candidate List Open)
March 26 - Candidate list closed.
Request list of Episcopal Candidates from the Holy Synod
Committee Identifies Comprehensive List that Meets Approved Criteria
May 1 - Qualify Candidate List culled to 10 names & submitted to DC (Diocesan Council)
May 7 - Written Interviews & Bios extended
May 21 - Written Interviews & Bios collected
Written Interviews Screened and Ranked submitted to DC
June 7 - Diocesan Council Meeting approval of
June 15 - Obtain Releases and Conduct Thorough Background Checks/Psychological Evaluations
July 15 - Candidates Undergo In-Depth Digitally Recorded Interviews (Video)
July 21 - Diocesan Council Approves Candidate Recordings for Dissemination
August 1 - Candidate Recordings are Disseminated and Deanery Meetings are conducted and 3 Candidates invited to Diocesan Special Assembly held in conjunction with Annual Diocesan Assembly
October 4 - 6 Nomination at Special Assembly held in conjunction with Annual Diocesan Assembly and names submitted to Holy Synod for election."
A concern of the Diocesan Council was that the proposed timeline does not indicate, apart from a video interviews, possibilities for clergy and laity from throughout the very large Diocese to meet and speak with the candidates. The Episcopal Selection Committee explained that the Timeline indicates only a bare minimum - and does not represent a listing of all the possibilities that may exist or may develop in the next seven months for that to happen depending on who the final candidates are, and where they may be coming from. The Episcopal Selection committee consisted of three clergy and three laymen (including the author of this article) all members of the Diocesan Council, who were chosen by the Council and blessed by Archbishop Job at what came to be his final meeting with the Diocesan Council in December 2009.
The Midwest Diocese's search is one of four currently underway in the OCA. The Bulgarian Diocese has been vacant since the death of Archbishop Kyrill in June 2007. the Alaskan Diocese has been vacant since the forced resignation of Bishop Nikolai in May 2008, and the Diocese of the South has been vacant since March 2009 following the retirement of Archbishop Dmitri. Neither Alaska nor the Bulgarian Diocese have announced the process they will use to select their new bishop, while the Diocese of the South has a process being conducted by the Chancellor and Deans.