August 24, 2017
Dear Friends in Christ,
After lengthy conversation and prayer and in consultation with the Standing Committee, I today call for the election of a Bishop Diocesan to be the Tenth Bishop of Maine. (A Bishop Diocesan succeeds the seated bishop immediately upon consecration.)
My wife, Gretchen, and I have been gathering information about Episcopal transition since late last fall. With that knowledge and with the advice of the Presiding Bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development, I have decided to retire from my position as Bishop in June of 2019. I will then be 70 years old. The 22 months between now and then give us ample time to discern, elect, and transition to the next bishop.
Accompanying this announcement is a letter from the Standing Committee outlining the discernment and transition process. The Standing Committee met with Bishop Clay Matthews of the Office of Pastoral Development late in May and has been preparing a transition plan ever since. At our upcoming 2017 Diocesan Convention, the Standing Committee will present a resolution concerning discernment and transition, and the proposed Diocesan Council budget will include monies for discernment and transition. Details will be found in the pre-Convention materials that will be circulated in September.
Serving as your bishop is the greatest joy of my life in the Church, and I look forward to continuing that service for the next two years. The work of following Jesus goes on even as we make preparations for our diocesan future, and I will remain fully engaged as your bishop until the moment I pass the crozier to my successor. There will be time for farewells as part of the transition process.
This announcement* initiates a long and careful process. I invite all Maine Episcopalians to take part, through prayer and discernment, and by continuing the faithful work and worship that are going on all over the diocese. I ask your prayers, and promise you mine, as we make this journey together.
The Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane
Bishop of Maine
*Each congregation will receive a copy of both letters by mail.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
As the old Byrds’ song goes, we are turning to a new season of collaborative ministry in the Diocese of Maine. While we look ahead to the future, our daily work with Bishop Lane continues as we follow Christ in our communities.
With Bishop Lane’s call for the election of a diocesan bishop, your Standing Committee has already begun planning for the election of the Tenth Bishop of Maine in 2019. Under the guidance of the Office for Pastoral Development of the Episcopal Church, we have called the Rev. Canon Rick Callaway as our search consultant to shepherd us throughout the entire process, using best practices that are well-established throughout the Episcopal Church. Diocesan leaders are committed to listening and responding to diverse voices across Maine and to making this a prayerful process. We invite each of you to participate in this process through prayer, listening, and conversation. As we move along, we promise to communicate regularly, within the bounds of confidentiality, all that unfolds by the grace of God.
Here’s a draft timeline of what will happen:
The Standing Committee will publish a resolution, also known as the enabling legislation, in the Convention booklet and present it to the 2017 Convention. This will establish the canonical authority needed to conduct a bishop search and election.
Late October-November 2017
The Standing Committee will seek nominations, appoint, and announce members of two Committees:
- The Discernment Committee will survey the diocese, create a diocesan online profile, receive nominations, screen/interview nominees, and present a slate of qualified bishop candidates to the Standing Committee by November 2018.
- The Transition Committee will manage the details of the candidates’ walkabouts, the bishop election, and the ordination/consecration in 2019. They will also actively support Bishop Lane, the bishop-elect, and their families with their transitions.
- The Standing Committee will also call a Transition Chaplain to act as a spiritual guide to the process, committees, and diocesan staff. Bishop Lane and Gretchen will have their own chaplain.
December 1-2, 2017
Members of the Discernment, Transition, and Standing Committees will meet with our consultant and chaplain for an overnight retreat to begin the planning and collaboration process.
The Discernment Committee surveys the diocese. Diocesan profile/website completed and shared widely.
The Discernment Committee conducts formal search process. Nominees are screened and interviewed.
The Bishop nominees participate in a retreat in Maine with the Discernment Committee and consultant.
A slate of bishop nominees is presented to the Standing Committee, accepted, and announced. Nominations by petition are sought by a process defined in the enabling legislation.
The petition nominees are added to the slate upon successful completion of background checks.
Walkabouts and interviews in Maine with all nominees.
A Special Convention to elect the Tenth Bishop of Maine (with a planned snow date).
A time of transition for Bishop-elect and family. Diocesan leadership solidify letter of agreement. Farewell celebration with Bishop Steve and Gretchen.
Early Summer 2019
The Ordination and Consecration of the Tenth Bishop of Maine (date determined by the Presiding Bishop).
Canonically, the Standing Committee is entrusted with overseeing an orderly election and transition. As followers of Jesus, we believe that all orders of ministry: the laity, deacons, priests, and bishops are one within the Body of Christ by virtue of our baptism. Through the variety of our prayers and experience across the Diocese, we trust that the Holy Spirit will guide and inspire us through these seasons of endings and beginnings.
Meanwhile, we continue to share our diverse gifts created by God’s abundant love. Your Standing Committee invites you to keep our Diocese, Bishop Lane and Gretchen, and our next bishop in your daily prayers as we enter this season of growing in our life together.
All shall be well.
The Rev. Maria J. Hoecker, President
The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine