This Third Sunday after the Epiphany, January 21, 2018 we read how Jesus calls four Galilean fishermen to join him and learn from him how to "fish for people". After his resurrection Jesus sent these transformed fisher people to replicate their experience with him, to call, teach and pray with groups in various nations. He named them Apostles, which means commissioned or sent, a term used at that time for ship captains and ambassadors. Over time, the Apostles helped their new communities develop reliable ways to continue to share the good news of God in Christ and to continue to raise up apostles to lead and guard the faithful.
Today, the Church, acting under Constitutional authority, continues to elect Apostles under the title of Bishop. In November 2017 the delegates of the 180 congregations of the Diocese of Virginia voted to begin a process to elect a new Suffragan Bishop (Apostle) for our Diocese. Suffragan simply means elected, and is used to indicate that this Bishop (Apostle) is not our “Diocesan” Bishop, The Right Reverend Shannon Johnston, but is equal in standing with (and not replacing) our suffragan bishop the Right Reverend Susan Goff. (Our recently retired bishop the Right Reverend Theodore Gulick was appointed, not elected, and served as an assistant to Bishop Johnston.)
Electing a Bishop is the work of the whole Diocese. The vestries of each congregation, themselves elected by the adult members in good standing of the congregation, including St. Luke’s Vestry, will elect a representative to vote in the election of the Suffragan Bishop at the Diocesan Convention in November 2018. This October the three to five candidates for election will tour the Diocese and be available for us to meet. And of course we will each be able to advise our representative on how to vote! Our new Suffragan Bishop will be consecrated by the Most Reverend Michael Curry at a date to be determined in April or May of 2019. And since our new Suffragan Bishop will work out of an office in northern Virginia, we will have a continuing opportunity to shape their ministry.
Please pray for the success of this work we share in Christ’s Name.
Almighty God, Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, who calls, guides, and empowers us as your Church; Bless us as your people. Create in us discerning minds as we seek to elect a Bishop in this Diocese. Open our ears, broaden our vision, and enliven our hearts for the work that lies before us. All this we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.