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The Election of an Episcopal Bishop: The Consent Process

By the Rev. Thad Bennett

One of the great things about being an Episcopal Church is that we are serious about being one denomination, being inclusive and following good process. Thus, after the election of a bishop, the Standing Committee is charged with obtaining consents to the election from a majority of Standing Committees of The Episcopal Church. The process for consents begins after the Presiding Bishop’s office or the General Convention office have received the forms certifying the election (Delegates: Remember lining up to sign all those forms!) and notifies the Standing Committee that they may move forward.

The consent process has 120 days to receive consents from the majority of Standing Committees in The Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA: 110 dioceses, so at least 56 consents). At the same time, the Presiding Bishop’s office contacts all the Bishops in ECUSA, and we must receive consents from a majority of them as well. After the consents are received, the Presiding Bishop and General Convention office will certify the election, and we are allowed to move forward with the consecration.

Thus, we can see that the whole Episcopal Church is involved in selecting bishops. Not only were they praying for us, but they are also helping to make sure that proper, Canonical requirements and procedures were followed. You see, the consent process is not a litmus test or approval for “the kind of person elected” but rather part of our “check-and-balance system” that makes sure there was a fair and just election.

Vermont is blessed to have our Chancellor, Tom Little, and the Secretary of the Standing Committee, Scottie Emery-Ginn, oversee all this work for us. As well, thanks be to God for our Ministry Support Team at the diocesan office that has helped with all the work and details. Hopefully, well before 120 days – about September 15 – the election will be certified and we’ll be together on September 28 for the consecration.

(For more information see Canon III, Title 11, Sec. 3.)

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