Before departing

I leave for General Convention on Monday, and plan to spend the weekend doing laundry, packing and watching my older son’s baseball game. While I think the convention will be invigorating I am dreading being away from home for 10 nights. When I covered the NHL and Major League Baseball, I was on the road all of the time, but I never really mastered the art of traveling well. One consolation is the opportunity to spend some time with my friend and former Post colleague Charles Trueheart, who is a deputy from the convocation in Europe.

Yesterday I was drawn into a few conversations about the Presiding Bishop’s race. I thought I would share a little bit of those here with the understanding that these don’t even rise to the level of rumor, more like water cooler conversation.

There is no real front runner, but, as gossip abhors a vacuum, Bishop Alexander of Atlanta has been dubbed the sort-of, kind-of front runner.

Many people think very highly of Bishop Schori, and she apparently did quite well during the candidates’ presentations at the House of Bishops meeting at Kanuga. Electing her would be a bold move. The House of Bishops is not a bold group.

Bishop Sauls has more support than people kibbitzing about the race seem to realize. But he and Bishop Schori may very well draw votes from one another, especially in the first round.

I can’t imagine that we are going to elect a presiding bishop who voted with the minority on the defining issue of the day, so I don’t think Bishops Jenkins or Parsley–both of whom voted not to confirm Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire–will win. But it has been pointed out to me that to unify the church after the Civil War, the bishops elected a pro-slavery Northerner. So…

I do think that these two, like Sauls and Schori, are likely to draw from the same base of support. If the presiding bishop were elected by the entire convention, I think Bishop Jenkins would have a better chance than Bishop Parsley . He has spoken very movingly about the ways Katrina changed him. But I think Bishop Parsley is regarded as the more skillful inside player, so perhaps he will be the one around whom moderate conservatives rally. On the other hand, Bishop Gulick, who voted for Gene Robinson, but whom I think is viewed as less liberal than Alexander, Sauls and Schori, could be the centrist choice.

Another factor: the bishops all know one another personally. So affection, disdain, etc., may play a more important role in the voting than ideology, administrative experience, etc. While we are discussing how Bishop A might handle situation B, the bishops are also asking themselves whether candidate C “want it too much,” and whether candidate D is too interested in getting out of his/her diocese.

I haven’t said anything about Bishop Duque-Gomez of Columbia because his is a curious candidacy. He does not speak much English. This would seem to present certain problems in a Church whose members, unfortunately, speak little else. He wasn’t nominated by a bishop form his own province, Province 9, which includes Honduras and Haiti, among others, so it isn’t as though he is viewed as their representative to our predominantly northern church.

In my more cynical moments, I wonder whether he will draw support from Bishop Duncan and the Network. Backing Bishop Duque would allow them to say a) we participated in the election, thus proving we aren’t separatists and b) we backed a minority candidate from the Global South, while you supposed liberals all voted for a English-speaking Anglo. We are the tribunals of the new Communion.

And as Bishop Duque is in no danger of actually winning the election, they could collect all of these public-relations-type benefits at no cost.

I hope my cynicism is unfounded.

Past Posts