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What Do an Elephant, a Row of Ducks, and a Baton Have to Do With the Next Bishop of Vermont?

Bishop Transition News

What Do an Elephant, a Row of Ducks, and a Baton Have to Do With the Next Bishop of Vermont?

The leaders of the process that will bring us the next Bishop of Vermont gave a brief presentation at the recent diocesan convention. Here are a few highlights. The Rev. Rick Swanson, chair of the Standing Committee, explained the primary responsibility of that body for this process. Using a baton that he passed to Maggie Thompson, he explained that the Standing Committee has delegated much of this work to the Bishop Discernment and Nominating Committee (BDNC).

Maggie, the chair of the BDNC, wore an elephant trunk nose as she explained that the consultant hired for this process had given her a stuffed elephant at the kickoff retreat and reminded the committee the importance of telling the whole story and leaving no elephants in the room as they do their work. Maggie explained how the information from the listening sessions informed the committee as they wrote the profile, which was published on October 9. (See With emphasis from a live trumpeter playing the opening bars of the William Tell Overture, Maggie urged everyone to help spread the word about the profile now since the deadline to apply is November 16. After the applications are received, the committee will be doing its confidential work quietly over the winter months. They and the Standing Committee expect to announce the list of nominees on or around March 23, 2019. Rick explained that the Standing Committee has already authorized a process for receiving additional candidates by petition. The resolution explaining this process, which will close on March 29, 2019, is available on the diocesan website.

Rick also passed the baton to the Rev. Todd McKee to symbolize the delegation of other responsibilities to the Transition Committee. Donning a duck bill mask, Todd, who is the chair of the committee, explained that all of their members had been given a rubber duck at the kickoff meeting to remind them that they need to keep their ducks in a row as they organize the election and consecration of the next Bishop of Vermont. Todd explained that the committee is already busy planning and will be working throughout the coming months behind the scenes. He urged parishes to pay special attention to the election of lay delegates to convention this January, as those delegates are the ones, along with eligible clergy, who will elect the our next bishop. Todd reviewed the events that will occur after the list of nominees is finalized in March. Candidates will be in Vermont for a “Walk About” April 28-30 so that everyone has a chance to meet them and ask questions; the special Electing Convention will be held on May 18 at the Cathedral in Burlington; and the consecration is set for September 28, 2019. Todd also noted that the committee will organize some events in the summer to celebrate Bishop Ely’s ministry and bid farewell to him and Ann.

The Rev. Thad Bennett, a member of the Standing Committee briefly reviewed the budgeted costs for the transition, noting that the committee has worked hard, in typical New England style, to keep the expenses well below the national average. Most of the process will be funded by diocesan savings and the Hunt Fund. Every congregation will soon receive information about the details of the budget along with an invitation to contribute.

These committees are available to answer questions. You can contact them via email:

Standing Committee:
Bishop Discernment & Nominating Committee:
Transition Committee:

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