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