Entering a Time of Preparation

By the Rev. Anne B. Jolly

At the church where I serve, we have been debating whether the native flowers planted in our memorial garden should be deadheaded as the summer growing season gives way to fall and winter. If we leave the spent blooms intact over the winter, people may assume we’re neglecting to care for our garden – and even our church. However, what looks messy and disheveled to the casual observer provides winter shelter for birds, and spreads seeds that will produce more native flowers in the next growing season. While the garden may appear neglected or ignored, so much is happening to increase life and beauty for the coming years.

The Diocese of Chicago is in the beginning of a significant change that will, in some way, affect us all. While change can be an opportunity for new growth, change is oftentimes accompanied by some measure of fear and anxiety about what’s next. There is no question that the transition from Bishop Jeff Lee to a new bishop will require a lot of people to participate in a lot of planning, and work. The Standing Committee is canonically responsible for overseeing this process, and is working closely with the chairs of the Search and Transition Committees to ensure we are all communicating well with each other and sharing the responsibilities appropriately. We are working with the diocesan staff, calling on their expertise and knowledge of the diocese at each point in the transition. We have a bishop search consultant recommended by The Episcopal Church’s Office of Pastoral Development who is advising us on the process, and we are in conversation with other dioceses that have been, or are currently going through, a bishop transition.

The Search and Nomination Committee, made up of clergy and laypeople from all over the diocese, is well organized, prayerful, and working in as transparent a way as this process allows. This committee will manage our search process up until they present a slate of nominees to the Standing Committee. We have also assembled a Transition Committee that will pick up the process as soon as the nominees are announced. The Transition Committee will organize the walkabouts, help with the electing convention, and help organize the events surrounding the Ordination and Consecration of the 13th Bishop of Chicago. In addition, the Transition Committee will have a role in thanking Bishop Lee for his faithful service and welcoming the bishop-elect and family to the diocese. We are so grateful for the talented, faithful people on these committees who have volunteered to serve the diocese during this time of transition, carefully tending to the details that help ensure the transition will be as smooth as possible.

The staff, Standing Committee, and the Search and Transition Committees are keenly aware of the responsibility we have been given, and are organized to work together to guide the diocese through the ordination and consecration of our next bishop. There will be several months between the time of Bishop Lee’s retirement and the ordination of our new bishop, and the Standing Committee will have canonical authority during that time. We are already anticipating this, structuring our prayers, work, and communications so that we can work with both the bishop and bishop-elect to ensure this time will be managed well.

Contact information for the Standing Committee and Search and Transition Committees can be found on the search and transition website. We welcome your thoughts and ideas. While at times it may appear that nothing is happening, we are thoughtfully, prayerfully, and advisedly working in the hope and promise that at the end of this season of transition we will experience the joy of new life and growth in the Diocese of Chicago. We are excited about this time in our common lives and are honored to serve each one of the members of the diocese in this capacity.

The Rev. Anne B. Jolly is rector of St. Gregory’s, Deerfield, and a member of the Standing Committee.

Correction:  In the print version of the Fall 2019 issue of Thrive!, this column was printed on page 21 with an incorrect first paragraph. We regret the error.