From the Rt. Rev. Charles E. Bennison, Jr., 15th Bishop of Pennsylvania:
October 9, 2012
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On October 1, the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, the President of the Standing Committee, informed me that the Committee wishes to elect a Provisional Bishop for some period following my retirement, rather than having me call for the election of a Coadjutor, or having the Diocese elect a Diocesan who would be consecrated on the day of my retirement.
I believe that the interests of the Diocese are best served if the process envisioned by the Standing Committee begins sooner rather than later, and therefore I have informed the Committee that I will retire on December 31, 2012.
I will do so in the confidence that my work is done. Across the Diocese our congregations, not least our mission churches, have attracted outstanding clergy for their ministries. The Dean and Chapter have made remarkable progress with the Cathedral Development Project, and the Standing Committee has agreed to relocate the Bishop’s Office there, once it is completed. The members of the Diocesan Staff are outstanding in their skill and dedication. Wise, visionary, and committed leaders — clergy and lay — serve our Diocesan ministries and governance bodies. Our Diocesan financial house is in the best order ever. The bonds of unity within the Diocese and with the Episcopal Church are strong. Our witness to Christ’s love and to social justice remains undiminished.
For the privilege and joy of serving as your Bishop, I shall always be profoundly grateful. I have loved my work, and I have loved each of you. Please pray for me, and know of my prayers for you. May the love of Christ hold sway in all our hearts now and always.
• • •
From the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, president of the Diocese of Pennsylvania’s standing committee:
October 9, 2012
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Bishop Bennison has informed the Standing Committee of his intention to resign effective December 31, 2012. We are making plans now to honor his tenure as our Bishop during the upcoming Diocesan Convention and we will share those with you as soon as possible.
The Standing Committee has concluded, in consultation with the Rt. Rev. F. Clayton Matthews, the Bishop for the Office of Pastoral Development in the Episcopal Church, that the best interests of our Diocese will be served by the prompt election of a Provisional Bishop to serve as our Ecclesiastical Authority during the upcoming time of transition while we go through the process of electing a new Bishop Diocesan. (A “provisional bishop” exercises the full authority of a diocesan bishop but is elected to serve for a set period of time, generally as an interim between bishops. As a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff, Bishop Matthews assists dioceses through pastoral transitions and the election of bishops). It is our intent to hold a Special Convention to elect a Provisional Bishop in early 2013 and we have asked Bishop Matthews to start the process of identifying possible candidates for this position.
The Standing Committee, working collaboratively with other Diocesan Leaders, will articulate basic goals for diocesan health and vitality that we may all address during this upcoming time of transition, determine how long our Provisional Bishop should be asked to serve, and will prepare a job description which Bishop Matthews can use to identify candidates. We will present a comprehensive timeframe at our Diocesan Convention. We hope you will share with us your wisdom and concerns as we move forward.
Looking ahead, please be assured that the Standing Committee intends to engage other Diocesan Leaders in decision making, work in close consultation with the office of the Presiding Bishop, and provide timely communication to the entire Diocese so all of us may be fully engaged in this vital next chapter of our common life.