Following the Jan. 15 announcement from Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE calling for the election of his successor, the diocesan Standing Committee has issued a letter to the diocese, the text of which appears here.
Jan. 17, 2013
Dear Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On Jan. 15, Bishop Tom Shaw announced his call for the election of a new diocesan bishop to succeed him when he retires. This means we have entered a period of thanksgiving, prayer, reflection, anticipation and, yes, some anxiety. Thanksgiving for the visionary and pastoral leadership of Bishop Shaw who continues to faithfully shepherd his flock as he has for nearly 20 years now. Prayer as we seek God’s guidance in assisting us to call the 16th diocesan bishop of our diocese. Reflection as we discern God’s will for the election process. Anticipation as we, in hope and trust, look forward to consecrating a new diocesan bishop who will lead us in the years ahead. And anxiety as we process the unfolding changes such a significant event in the life of God’s people can manifest.
The purpose of this letter is not to go into the details of what lies ahead for all of us. Much will be forthcoming in the ensuing months concerning the nominating, election and transition process, as well as a fitting manner to thank Bishop Shaw for his time as our bishop. Rather, this is to assure you that the Standing Committee, which by virtue of the canons of both the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Massachusetts has responsibility for overseeing this process, is already at work. On Feb. 11, we will be meeting with the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, Office of Pastoral Development, College for Bishops, to seek his counsel and review guidelines based on the experience of the wider church.
We want to engender and convey a sense of openness, trust and faithfulness to you for the task at hand. Fortunately we are well resourced not only with God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit but also with a gifted, committed, willing clergy and laity ready to participate in this next step in our collective history…and many of you will be asked to do so! Communication will be a priority, and we intend to regularly report on progress along our timeline. It is anticipated the election will occur on April 5, 2014, with the consecration likely taking place in the fall of 2014.
Through the life, witness and ministry of Bishop Shaw we have been well prepared and strengthened for this moment. Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled; believe in God, and believe also in me.” So let us believe as well, and move forward together, always prayerfully seeking God’s will and purpose for us. Please remember our diocesan community, especially our bishops, the Standing Committee and the diocesan staff, in your prayers.
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts
The Rev. Zenetta Armstrong, President
Mr. David Bergquist, Vice President
Mr. James Wagner, Co-Secretary
The Rev. Mark McKone-Sweet, Co-Secretary
The Rev. Marya DeCarlen
Ms. Blanca Silvestrini
The Rev. Amy McCreath
Ms. Judith Dilday