Search Committee Summer Progress

The Search Committee is delighted by the high caliber of the applicants we received to the position of the 11th bishop of the Diocese.  We received 42 applications.  In our July discernment meeting, we identified a smaller but significantly sized group to interview.  At the end of the month, we interviewed each person in that number by virtual meeting technology, and now, in August, the committee is conducting reference checks on each candidate.

The full calendar of our work has been given new details, and we refer you to to the Search Schedule Page





Search Process Continues

The application period for candidates for Bishop of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania has closed.

The Search Committee is reviewing candidates’ submitted materials.

We will keep you posted, and ask that you continue to keep the Search Committee and Applicants in your prayers.


Gracious God, Great Shepherd of your people, we seek your wisdom as we listen for your voice among many voices. We ask grace to imagine boldly, to pray unceasingly and to act being the community you would have us be. We ask grace to be strengthened by our companionship with each other and by your presence in our deliberations and decision making. We ask your blessing on the labors of those who seek our next bishop, searching for the one who will lead us with vigor and vision, and we pray your grace on those who have entered the application process. In this discernment may we all be encouraged in discipleship in Christ for the good of your people throughout the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania. Amen.


Opportunities for All to Discern & Reflect

Now and in the coming months, the Search Committee is doing its own share of discernment.  We’ve begun diligently reading all applications, praying for insight into the primary task of bishop and diocese, and deepening our understanding of the qualities and characteristics presented to us by the candidates.

As we are at work, we hope you also will do work of discernment throughout the summer and into the fall, keeping pace alongside us.   We all can be preparing ourselves for the changes already beginning to take root in this diocese, with Bishop Robert Gepert’s leadership.  For its part, the Search Committee, with Standing Committee’s help, is staying alert and aware of these changes for health and faithfulness.

We will present the Standing Committee with candidates whose qualities and characteristics best match those criteria we’ve developed, using our understanding of the primary task of a diocese and a bishop (see ).  In a later post, we’ll be lifting up the criteria we’re using, so you can think about them too.

One practical way you can work alongside us in reflection and discernment of diocesan needs and character,  is to focus parish discussion on the Profile.

We suggest you pass this information on to the person in your parish who has charge of Christian formation and Christian Education, for use in Sunday forums or small groups, or perhaps at a summer’s lemonade-and-cookies gathering after the service.

The Profile is located under the Profile tab ( ) You can read it either online or as a PDF download.  Using a laptop, you could even bring up the report and project it on a screen, and scroll through the pages online while everybody sees the material together.  After you’ve reviewed the Profile together, you might open a discussion of what people have seen.

Below are a few questions that could be helpful to a group discussing the Profile.

1. Given this report, what do you like about our diocese?

2. What surprises you?

3. What gives you concern?

4. What gives you hope?

If your discussion group is keeping track of people’s answers (in their own words; using newsprint is always helpful for that!), perhaps the group will be willing to prioritize their answers to the last two questions, and then pick one or two priorities that might have application in your own parish in the near future.   In a follow-up session, you might think out loud about what such changes or growth in your health and faithfulness might look like.




Who’s the Bishop Now?

On May 31, The Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter retired as our Diocesan Bishop. From June 1 until our Diocesan election of our Provisional Bishop on Saturday, June 14, the Standing Committee of the Diocese is our ecclesiastical  authority. In that two week period, The Rt. Rev. Robert Gepert remains our Assisting Bishop.

Once elected as our Provisional Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Robert Gepert holds authority as our Diocesan Bishop.

The election of our new bishop is scheduled for a special diocesan convention, March 21, 2015.  After election, the Rt. Rev. Robert Gepert will remain available as Assisting Bishop until the Consecration, scheduled for September 12, 2015.

Article II, Sec. 2 of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church requires “the consent of a majority of the Standing Committees of all the Dioceses, and the consent of a majority of the Bishops of this Church exercising jurisdiction” to the election of a bishop.”

Two scenarios are possible:

  1. If we elect a candidate who is already a bishop, there is no need to hold a consecration. The newly elected bishop assumes jurisdiction as soon as the consents have been received from both orders, the House of Bishops and the Standing Committees.
  2.  If we elect a priest to be our 11th  bishop, then that person becomes bishop-elect.  The newly elected does not take jurisdiction until consecration.  One cannot have jurisdiction without ordination.

Our Standing Committee’s agreement with the provisional bishop can be ended at any time after the special election.  Certainly, the provisional bishop has no jurisdiction past the consecration.  Since 2015 is a General Convention year and the election will have taken place before General Convention, the bishop-elect is expected to attend.  The bishop elect will be seated in the House of Bishops, with voice, but without vote.

Search Committee Enters Radio Silence

Radio silence, in its original use, refers to the setting in which all radio and mobile transmitters in a given area are asked to go silent for safety and security reasons.

The Search Committee has entered radio silence to preserve the boundary between us and everyone–everyone– to protect confidentiality through the remainder of our search process.   That is, from June 6 through the beginning of December.

Specifically, our members have committed to the following:

  • None of us will  talk with each other about any applicant or candidate unless we are all in the same room together.
  • None of us will talk with each other about the Search Committee, should we encounter each other outside of our own meetings.
  • None of us will  talk with anyone else about the Search Committee, anywhere, or in any way.  We hope you’ll not ask.  But if you do, while we appreciate your sympathy, we will say “Radio silence in effect,” and we ask you to respect that.   The work will be hard and we will stick to it until we’re done.  So we wouldn’t have a different answer for you if you asked “How are things?” at any point.  If you’d like to stay tuned to our schedule, please check here:

We hope you will keep silence with us.   Our silence in this time is a self-discipline—and even a prayer of– respect and care for the dignity of every person who enters our applicant pool, and  for all those whose lives are bound with theirs.

While we will not share our progress, we will continue to talk about the search process here on the website.   We’ll continue to offer resources for parish use that should help you know your involvement and keep step with us.  And we continue to rely on your prayers for  us.

Application Process Now Open

The Search Committee and the Standing Committee are pleased to invite applications for the position of 11th Bishop of this Diocese. The mechanism for application is found here:

We will be receiving applications starting June 6. Applications will close at midnight, Pacific Time, on the 20th.

Anyone who would like to nominate a priest may do so by sending an email to mailto:  with your nominee’s name, current position, and contact information, specifically an email address.  Your nominee will receive an email from the Search Committee, with an invitation to look at our website, to read our Profile, and to consider entering the process. The sooner you act on your nomination, the longer the person has to discern entering the process.

We are committed to confidentiality in this time of discernment, and to praying for all those who will be entering their names for our consideration. We welcome you.

June 6: Applications Will Open

Applications will be accepted for the position of the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, starting on June 6.

The profile is available only from the website, here:

Paper copies can be downloaded from the pdf file link that is available.

All applications are to be submitted electronically as per the profile directions.

Please prayerfully recommend the website to those whom you feel

might like to explore a call to this important ministry among us.

The deadline for applications is midnight, PTZ, June 20, 2014.

What does a Bishop do? PART 2

The primary task of a bishop is the primary task of a diocese.  Our 2014  Bishop Search Profile has a lengthy section on the primary task of our diocese (see pages 20-25), interpreting and drawing on the data the Search Committee gathered across the diocese during the 20 listening events held from January through March of this year.  The data reveals a strong desire in all parts of the diocese for a primary leadership focus on the development of healthy and faithful parishes.

What a bishop does, part 2, interprets the ‘job list’ you’ll find in the previous blog below, What Does a Bishop Do?

What a bishop does, interpreting the vows of consecration, is to help focus all members in the diocese on a vision for, and accomplishment of the primary task–the development of healthy and faithful parishes.  There are two accompanying major emphases of any episcopacy, also primary to a bishop’s work.  We can prepare ourselves for such a primary task and for our new bishop, by paying attention to new language creating new possibilities in the way we change and grow in leadership and in parish life.

Here is what Bob Gallagher, OA, Congregational and Parish Development consultant, has to say on The Three Primary Tasks of a Diocese:

 There are three areas that constitute the essential work of a bishop and a diocese.

1. The renewal and revitalization of parish churches.

The bishop needs to help all the parishes be communities that live and worship to the glory of God and in which the baptized are formed as instruments of God’s love in their lives in families, the workplace, with friends and in civic life. This includes seeing that all parishes have worship that sweeps people off their feet.

2. Engaging the region of the diocese

The diocese is called to work for justice and compassion in its state or city, on its own, as well as in cooperation with parishes and in collaboration with other denominations, organizations and institutions.

3. Connecting the diocese with the larger church

The bishop is an essential connection with the national and international life of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. The bishop also has a responsibility to help parishes be grounded in the Anglican ethos.

“There are also all sorts of odds and ends a bishop may need to deal with but these three things are the core,” Bob Gallagher said to the group of Diocesan leaders gathered on April 27 this year, in considering our Listening Event data.   ” And the renewal and revitalization of parish churches is the primary task.”

To read more about Bob Gallagher’s work and understanding of diocesan, congregational and parish health, click here:



All Together Now, Going into Discernment

The Search Committee hopes you and members of your parish will share the experience of transition and discernment ahead of us all.

First, pray with us.

Then, join us in paying attention to ourselves in the mirror of the Diocesan Profile.

The Profile will be up on the website, under its own tab, on June 2.  A PDF of the Profile will be available to download or to print.

We are committed to learning everything about ourselves that our Profile subcommittee has put together as a picture of us in worship, in mission, and in community.  We hope you too will commit yourselves to reading and learning from the Profile.   We suggest giving yourselves, in your parish settings, time to talk about your lives of faith and the mission of this diocese, using the Profile in a structured way.

The data from the Listening events and the Profile both have given the Search Committee good opportunity to consider who we are, who we are to become, and what we are to  be about, in the near future.  We are discerning our diocesan calling, in fact.   There’s nothing confidential about this work.  Nothing about this form of discernment is limited to the Search Committee.  In fact, paraphrasing Joni Mitchell, we need you to help us, doing your part.  Don’t let us go there by ourselves–that’s such a lonely thing to do.

We suggest using the Profile as a starting point for discussion in your parishes, thinking about yourselves and our mutual life together in the diocese.  After the Profile has been posted, look for a separate posting giving you resources for using the Profile in discussion in Sunday Forums or Adult Ed classes.  Then, in the coming months, take on the rewarding challenge of open discernment as we take on the confidential aspects of our search for the 11th bishop of this diocese.





On Not Taking Prayer for Granted

In four short days our search for the 11th bishop of Central Pennsylvania will be transformed into the work of discernment.

Your Search Committee earnestly desires you to come with us into this next stage, by praying.  Pray heartily during your Daily Office, pray fervently on Sundays, pray mindfully in between.  We ask you to intentionally pray for us, pray with care for all the applicants, pray heartily for our diocesan leadership – for our Assisting Bishop, Bob Gepert, for our Standing Committee, for the staff in Diocesan Center.   And pray for yourselves and your parishes. We all seek the bishop we need.  We will surely come to understand who that is if we can name our needs, pray for our needs, and pray for each other.

We are standing in the need of prayer.  We approach the cusp of change in need of grace, in need of guidance, and in need of the strength we have in each other’s prayers and fellowship in the coming months.