In his homily during the opening worship service at the Special Council, Bishop Gary Lillibridge spoke of the duties of a bishop, canonically in The Episcopal Church and also scripturally. Canonically, the election of a Bishop Coadjutor, the purpose for which this Special Council was called, requires the diocesan bishop to state the duties he will assign to the newly elected once ordained.
Lillibridge announced during his homily that the Bishop Coadjutor will begin to oversee three areas of ministry, in addition to sharing the annual visitation schedule and other daily duties. The three areas of ministry are: the discernment process for ordination and the overall responsibility of the Commission on Ministry; clergy deployment in the congregations of the diocese; and the Department of Congregational Development and the strategic, future planning that goes with this area of both diocesan and local mission and ministry.
Lillibridge said, “These three areas of ministry constitute a full plate, yet they only begin to scratch the surface of the responsibilities in the bishop’s office.”
He also quoted some of the day’s readings, an excerpt from Hebrews 5 that says, “Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God…is able to deal gently with those who are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness” (paraphrased). Also, from Philippians 2, “In humility, value others above yourselves… In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus who did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, but took upon himself the nature of a servant” (paraphrased).
Lillibridge offered a few characteristics he believes important for a bishop, so that when the bishop is present in his community (the diocese) others will “know and believe that the Kingdom of God has come near” (Luke 10:9, paraphrased). He said, “We are looking for a combination of current abilities and gifts, as well as potential to grow in areas of service in our next bishop, or making sure the Holy Spirit has enough room in which to work.”
To read Lillibridge’s homily in its entirety, click here.