Bishop transition in the Diocese of Olympia

This information on the bishop transition is from the Diocese of Olympia.

The bishop resigned! What happens next?

There are three options that are compatible with both the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church and Diocese of Olympia.

  1. Bishop Rickel remains in place and calls for the election of a bishop who will take over when he leaves. If there is overlap, the newly elected bishop is called the “Bishop Coadjutor” and on the departure of the “Bishop Diocesan” assumes that title. If there is no overlap (as was the case with the retirement of Bishop Vincent Warner and election of Bishop Rickel), the ecclesiastical authority is transferred to the new Bishop Diocesan on the day of former bishop’s retirement.
  2. Bishop Rickel resigns or retires, and the Standing Committee assumes “ecclesiastical authority,” running the diocese by committee. This would require the elected volunteers who serve on the Standing Committee to approve ordinations, clergy licensing and discipline, and other core canonical duties.
  3. Bishop Rickel resigns or retires, and the Standing Committee selects a “Bishop Provisional” to carry out the ecclesial duties of the bishop while the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council oversee the search process for a new Bishop Diocesan. In this arrangement the Diocesan Convention votes to place the diocese under the authority of a Bishop Provisional, who would be nominated as a single candidate in advance of the Convention.

Why did the Standing Committee choose the Bishop Provisional path?

In July, Bishop Rickel announced his resignation from the office of Bishop effective the end of this calendar year. Therefore, the Standing Committee considered options 2 and 3 for transition.

First, we considered the capacity of the Standing Committee:

  • We didn’t think we would be the best shepherd for the diocese over a two-year period because we are a committee made up of volunteers.
  • We also believe the overall capacity of the staff and Governing Bodies is high.
  • We felt like this arrangement would help us maintain canonically and legally required obligations with the least amount of disruption.

What will a Bishop Provisional do?

A Bishop Provisional will work with our Assisting Bishops to maintain the liturgies only a bishop can do:

  • Visitations
  • Confirmations
  • Receptions
  • New and mutual ministry celebrations

They will also work with the following:

  • Our COM [Commission on Ministry] and Standing Committee to keep ordination processes moving forward
  • Other governing bodies and staff to maintain our financial and legal commitments to The Episcopal Church, congregations, and partner organizations

What will the Diocese of Olympia need to do to call a Bishop Provisional?

When Bishop Rickel announced his decision to the Standing Committee, he arranged for Bishop Todd Ousley to orient the group to its next steps. Based on the options he laid out (see “The bishop resigned! What happens next?”), we chose the “Bishop Provisional” path. We also interviewed and selected a candidate provided by the Presiding Bishop’s Office for Pastoral Development.

Members of the diocese can learn more about the Bishop Provisional candidate at a webinar on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, at 7:00 pm. The link to this webinar will be made available October 6.

You can submit questions for the Bishop Provisional candidate by submitting a form that will be made available October 6 as well. The deadline for that is October 10.

At our upcoming convention, the Standing Committee will move to place the Diocese of Olympia under the provisional charge of a Bishop Provisional (to be named October 6, 2022), effective January 1, 2023. The Bishop Provisional will have charge of the diocese until a new Bishop Diocesan is elected and ordained, or until this act is revoked by the Convention of the Diocese of Olympia. This is allowed under Title 3, Canon 13, Section 1 of The Episcopal Church canons.

Once we have secured the ecclesiastical authority of the Bishop Provisional, the Standing Committee and Council of the Diocese of Olympia will select one clergyperson and one lay person each from the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council to form a Joint Board.

Per Article XIX of the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of Olympia, the Joint Board will do the following:

  • Report regularly to both the Standing Committee and Council as well as monitor the budget, expenses, and general process of the episcopal (bishop) search process.
  • Appoint and oversee the work of the Search Committee, comprised of one member from each regional ministry of the Diocese of Olympia.
  • Develop a procedure for introducing episcopal nominees to the diocese prior to the election.

When will we know who the Standing Committee has nominated for Bishop Provisional? What happens next?

  • Announcement of Bishop Provisional name by Standing Committee – October 6
  • Deadline to submit questions for the Bishop Provisional candidate to answer in a webinar – October 10
  • Webinar Q&A with Bishop Provisional candidate – October 19, 7:00pm

Any questions? Contact

Standing Committee

The Standing Committee serves as a council of advice for the bishop and becomes the diocesan ecclesiastical authority in the bishop’s absence. It makes decisions about the sale, encumbrance or disposal of real property belonging to Parishes of the Diocese. It interviews and makes recommendations to the bishop on candidates for Holy Orders, and the consent of the Standing Committee is required for ordination. The Standing Committee also gives or withholds consent to the election of bishops throughout the church and has Judicial responsibilities in the case of clergy misconduct where the clergy or the complainant does not accept the adjudication of the bishop. By canon, no two members of the Standing Committee may be from the same congregation.

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