In tran­si­tion

Epis­co­pal bishop’s re­tire­ment plans start process to se­lect new leader

The Oklahoman - - SPIRITUAL LIFE - Carla Hin­ton chin­[email protected]­la­homan.com RE­LI­GION ED­I­TOR

Ok­la­homa Epis­co­palians are pre­par­ing for the lengthy process to se­lect a new spir­i­tual leader. With the Rt. Rev. Ed­ward Konieczny’s re­cent de­ci­sion to re­tire as bishop of the Epis­co­pal Dio­cese of Ok­la­homa, a se­ries of events was set in mo­tion that will ul­ti­mately lead to the or­di­na­tion of a new bishop in April 2020. Konieczny, 64, said his re­tire­ment will be­come ef­fec­tive in Jan­uary of 2021, to al­low him and his suc­ces­sor an op­por­tu­nity to work to­gether to en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion for the dio­cese. He said he has an­nounced his re­tire­ment plans well in ad­vance be­cause it will take roughly 18 months for the dio­cese to se­lect and or­dain a new bishop. The manda­tory re­tire­ment age for bish­ops in the Epis­co­pal Church USA is 72, so Konieczny said he did not make the de­ci­sion to re­tire based on his age. His de­ci­sion was based on the cur­rent well-be­ing of the Ok­la­homa dio­cese, which in­cludes about 70 con­gre­ga­tions rep­re­sent­ing about 25,000 Epis­co­palians and 150 res­i­dent clergy, he said. The dio­cese also in­cludes five Epis­co­pal schools, two res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties for older adults and St. Crispin’s Camp and Con­fer­ence Cen­ter in We­woka.

“The dio­cese is in a great place. We’re healthy spir­i­tu­ally and fi­nan­cially. The church is mov­ing for­ward in in­cred­i­ble ways. To take the dio­cese to the next level where we’re headed re­quires some­one who will be here for a lit­tle more time than I can give,” Konieczny said dur­ing a re­cent in­ter­view.

A plan and a process

The bishop said the dio­cese’s Stand­ing Com­mit­tee will be re­spon­si­ble for over­see­ing the cre­ation of a field of bishop can­di­dates from which the dio­cese will elect a new leader. He said the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee has met with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the of­fice of the Epis­co­pal Church USA’s pre­sid­ing bishop and the com­mit­tee mem­bers are now in the process of nom­i­nat­ing a search com­mit­tee that will seek out can­di­dates.

Konieczny said can­di­date names will be ac­cepted for a time pe­riod and then there will be a time to al­low the com­mit­tee to vet those po­ten­tial can­di­dates. He said a min­i­mum of three can­di­dates will be se­lected and they will be in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in a “walk about,” a time to visit and in­ter­act with peo­ple in dif­fer­ent parts of the dio­cese.

Konieczny said an elec­tion con­ven­tion will be held at St. Paul’s Epis­co­pal Cathe­dral at a date that hasn’t been de­ter­mined. At the con­ven­tion, the dio­cese will elect a “Bishop Coad­ju­tor,” who is elected to suc­ceed a Dioce­san Bishop, and the in­di­vid­ual’s or­di­na­tion will be April 18, 2020.

[PHOTO BY NI­COLE BAXLEY, EPIS­CO­PAL DIO­CESE OF OK­LA­HOMA]

ABOVE: In this 2007 photo, the Most Rev. Katharine Jef­ferts Schori ap­plauds the Rt. Rev. Ed­ward J. Konieczny fol­low­ing his or­di­na­tion as bishop of Epis­co­pal Dio­cese of Ok­la­homa dur­ing a cer­e­mony at Ok­la­homa City Univer­sity in Ok­la­homa City. [OK­LA­HOMAN AR­CHIVES] BE­LOW: Frank Oberly, a mem­ber of the Co­manche-Osage Tribe, par­tic­i­pated in a gourd dance with the Rt. Rev. Ed­ward Konieczny, bishop of the Epis­co­pal Dio­cese of Ok­la­homa, and the Most Rev. Michael Curry, pre­sid­ing bishop of the Epis­co­pal Church USA, at the 2016 Oak­er­hater Honor Dance in Wa­tonga.

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