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The Role of a Bishop

According to the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, the ministry and role of a bishop is:


  • to “be one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ's resurrection and interpreting the Gospel, and to testify to Christ's sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings” 

  • to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church”

  • to “celebrate and to provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant”

  • to “ordain priests and deacons and to join in ordaining bishops”

  • to “be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ”

  • With fellow bishops, to “share in the leadership of the Church throughout the world”

 
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The Reasons for a Bishop

Setting aside the requirements of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church as well as our own Diocesan Canons, there are many good reasons why our church has bishops—Scriptural,

historical, and functional.

While the current three-fold order of bishops, priests (presbyters), and deacons arose in Christian worshipping communities over time, the role of a bishop finds precedent in Holy Scripture, primarily in the role and ministry of the apostles, after which the ongoing ministry of bishops is modeled. Specific allusions to bishops in the Bible include: Acts 20:28, Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1:5-7,

and 1 Peter 5:1-5.


Baptized Christians, lay and ordained, serve in roles that correspond to their gifts and callings (Romans 12:3-8). This can be seen as far back as the earliest apostles in the Book of Acts who, in recognizing the needs around them, appointed others to help supply food and care so that the apostles could fully continue their ministry of prayer and proclaiming the Word (Acts 6). As the following diocesan needs demonstrate, bishops are called by God to be administrators and overseers, such that others may also be empowered and equipped to serve however God calls them.


In fact, this structure is embedded in our Church’s DNA—the very word Episcopal comes from the Greek word Episkopos, meaning “overseer.” Today, bishops continue the “Historic Episcopate,” meaning that they continue in the example and teaching of the apostles.

 

Our Diocesan Needs

The new bishop of our diocese will be responsible for oversight of and decisions in the diocese and beyond.

At the Diocesan level, our next bishop will oversee all clergy, parishes, missions, and ministries.

Some of the bishop’s responsibilities to the clergy will be to:

  • Serve as the chief pastor to all the priests and deacons of the diocese

  • Ordain priests and deacons to serve the diocese and the wider church

  • Deploy ministers to serve in mission churches, college ministries, and any other ministries directly supported by the diocese

  • Deploy priests and deacons to serve parishes and missions around the diocese

  • Issue licenses to non-resident priests and deacons for conducting public services within the diocese

  • Approve a priest before they can be called to serve any parish or other ministry of the diocese

  • Oversee clergy discipline, when necessary

  • Appoint regional canons across the diocese to assist in oversight and help facilitate communication between the bishop and the leadership of all parishes and missions


Some of the bishop’s responsibilities to the greater diocese will be to:

  • Visit the congregations of the diocese at least once within a three-year period

  • Preside at services of Confirmation, Reception, and Reaffirmation 

  • Oversee the missions and ministries of the diocese:

  • Serve as chair or ex-officio of Diocesan Committees

  • Manage the operation of diocesan office and staff

  • Oversee the diocese’s financial stewardship and fundraising efforts

  • Cast a vision and set priorities for the diocese 

  • Issue licenses for lay ministries, such as Lay Eucharistic Ministers and Lay Eucharistic Visitors

  • Facilitate the organization and implementation of the annual Diocesan Convention

  • Address and preside over every Diocesan Convention

  • Ensure resources are provided for parishes seeking priests, including search processes for rectors 

  • Above all, preach the Gospel of Christ and “carry on the apostolic work of leading, supervising, and uniting the Church” (BCP, p. 510)


Beyond the diocese, some of our next bishop’s responsibilities will be to:

  • Oversee the continued relationship with the Diocese of Cuba

  • Serve as a member of the House of Bishops and attend meetings

  • Represent the diocese to the national church

  • Have voice and vote at every General Convention

  • Serve on national or international committees at the request of the Presiding Bishop

  • Attend the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of bishops from across the Anglican Communion