Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Bishop? Bishops emerged in New Testament times, with the title “episkopos” – a Greek word that means “overseer.” We can trace a direct line from the Apostles (the original over-seers) to today’s bishops. At least three bishops, who themselves have been ordained by the laying on of hands, ordain the new bishop by the laying on of hands, thus invoking the Holy Spirit to descend on the person being ordained and maintaining the “historic episcopate.”

What does a Bishop do? Today the office of a bishop carries with it a wide range of responsibilities, including defending the integrity of the faith, confirming and receiving new members into the Church, ordaining and providing pastoral care for priests and deacons, providing community leadership, administering the business affairs of their diocese, and participating in the affairs of The Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

How long does a bishop search take? In our Diocese, the process will take 15 months from the appointment of the Search Committee in November 2017 to the electing convention on February 9, 2019. The timeline is available here.

What happens during a bishop search? The Search Committee creates and publishes a diocesan profile about what we seek in a new bishop. A period is then opened to receive nominations which are evaluated by the Search Committee. Once this is completed, the Search Committee presents a slate of 3 to 5 candidates to the Standing Committee. This process takes at least 6 months. Our Diocese will then host the candidates for ‘walkabouts’ at several locations with open public forums to give everyone a chance to meet them, ask questions of them and hear their responses.

A special electing convention will be held on February 9, 2019 at Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento to elect the 8th bishop of the Diocese of Northern California.

What are the duties of the Search Committee?

- Gather information from around our diocese as to the qualities we seek in our next bishop
- Develop a diocesan profile for potential candidates to consider as they discern whether to place their names in nomination
- Screen and interview potential nominees through a series of stages
- Recommend final nominees for the approval by the Standing Committee 

How is the Search Committee formed? The Standing Committee appoints people to the Search Committee in accordance with the Constitution and Canons governing our diocese. Meet the Search Committee here.

Which portions of the search process are open? Which portions are confidential? The search process will be open as we enter the Listening Phase in the beginning of 2018, where the Search Committee will gather information about our Diocese, invite feedback and ideas and visions about where we as a Diocese are feeling called by God to go, invite feedback about the kind of leader we need to call, and where we will generate a profile of the qualities, characteristics, and work experience we desire in a new Bishop. Also open will be the nominations phase in spring 2018, where people may nominate persons they believe to be qualified to become our next Bishop for consideration by the Search Committee.

The process will be confidential beginning in the late spring/early summer 2018 (once nominations close) through winter of 2018, when the Search Committee is in conversations with particular nominees. Out of respect to them and their current ministries, we want to honor their privacy as they are in discernment. Read the full text of the Confidentiality Commitment that all Search Committee members have signed HERE

During this period the Search Committee will not be able to share how many nominees they have, how many are remaining in the process, or if a particular individual is or is not part of the pool. When you ask the Search Committee how all is going during this time, expect fairly generic answers and know that they will be working hard to bring you the best possible slate of candidates.

Once a slate of candidates is introduced in December 2018, the process is then very open again, with an opportunity for petition candidates who are not presented on the slate to be considered and with open, public gatherings throughout the Diocese in January 2019 to meet the candidates in person.

What are the duties of the people of the Diocese during this process? The Search Committee represents the people of the Diocese. There are many things that individuals still can (and should) be doing!

Pray. The Book of Common Prayer, p. 818, is a place to start (this prayer is also posted on the search process home page). Congregations are encouraged to use this prayer at corporate worship during the process. Please also pray for Bishop Beisner and his staff as they continue to serve our Diocese faithfully through June 2019.

Be part of a listening event and/or survey. It is critical to the success of our process that every person in the Diocese has the opportunity to be heard. By providing your feedback on what our Diocese needs in a leader, the Search Committee will have the best information to put forth to potential candidates. It is the Search Committee’s intention to provide a diverse slate of candidates, ANY of whom could fulfill the desires of our Diocese. Dates of listening events are available here.

Learn. Understand what a Bishop does, what the process is like, and who the eventual nominees are. The Diocesan website, e-newsletters, Facebook and Twitter pages are all good places to check regularly.

Spread the word. Once the profile and application are made public (spring 2018), it will be important that members of the Diocese are considering who might be a good fit for the position of Bishop, and to help connect those people to the posted information so that they can decide themselves if they’d like to apply.

Vote. Delegates to convention (November 2018) will ALSO be the voting delegates at the election in February 2019. These delegates will be elected at parish annual meetings in January / February 2018. Please prayerfully consider this process.

What is a diocesan profile? The diocesan profile is a document that accurately describes the diocese and articulates a call for the next bishop. Profiles are created by the Search Committee from information gathered typically through a series of listening events, surveys, and interviews around the diocese.

Do people on the Search Committee have a particular agenda or constituency they are representing (e.g. representatives from larger parishes, smaller parishes, regions of the Diocese)? No. Members of the Search Committee are charged to represent the whole of the Diocese.

I know a person who’d make a great Bishop. Can I give you her name? Hold that thought! You’ll want to ask the person to take a look at our position profile first, which the Search Committee will create and publish in the spring of 2018. This will give an overview of who we are as a Diocese, what we’ve heard in the listening process, and the gifts, skills, and qualities we are seeking in our new Bishop. Once that is public, then we’ll accept nominations.

Will we know the list of everyone who applies? No. In order to respect the confidentiality of everyone who applies, we will only publish the list of the names of the 3-5 candidates on our slate for Bishop after they have been presented to the Standing Committee.

Who is eligible to become bishop? Any priest who is at least 30 years old is eligible for ordination and consecration as a bishop. Also, any bishop of a diocese is eligible for election as a bishop. Note that the Constitution and Canons require a bishop to resign within 90 days of reaching the age of 72.

According to the Church Pension Group:

The average age of a bishop at consecration is 55 years old. The median length of term of a diocesan bishop is 8.5 years. The standard age at retirement is 66 years.

For further information on the eligibility of a bishop, see Article II of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church at this link: generalconvention.org.

Who votes for the next bishop? A special electing convention will be held on February 9, 2019 at Trinity Cathedral to elect the 8th Bishop of the Diocese. The voting membership of the Convention is composed of members of the Clergy canonically resident in the Diocese and lay delegates, elected as members in accordance with the Canons of our diocese. Please note that the delegates elected at 2018 annual Parish Meetings (as directed by Canon) will be the delegates voting at the special convention.

When is the consecration? Providing the Standing Committee receives the consents for the consecration of the Bishop-Elect from a majority of the Bishops Diocesan of the Church and a majority of the Standing Committees of the dioceses, the consecration is scheduled for June 29, 2019. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, is the chief consecrator. More details will follow.


Do you have a question? Email it to Erika Trez at erika@grace-episcopal.org, and we'll answer it as soon as possible. We will update this FAQ page as more questions emerge.

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