North Carolina’s Bishop Pro-Tem Seeks to Continue Curry’s Work
At the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry was elected the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The reaction in North Carolina was a mix of elation, pride and excitement for the wider Church and sorrow knowing our beloved bishop would soon leave our diocese.
Knowing the question of “What’s next?” would naturally be on the minds of Episcopalians in the diocese, the Rev. Jim Melnyk, president of the Standing Committee, Bishop Curry and the Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple had begun the work of discerning the transitional possibilities even before General Convention, in order not to delay a decision in the event Bishop Curry was elected.
The Standing Committee had several options open to them, and, after much discussion, thought, prayer and consideration, on July 20, 2015, they elected to exercise the option provided by Canon 40, Article 2.5 of the diocesan canons and appoint Bishop Hodges-Copple as Bishop Pro Tem. She will serve in this position from the time Bishop Curry resigns his jurisdiction as Bishop of North Carolina and assumes his office as Presiding Bishop on November 1 until the election and consecration of the next Bishop Diocesan. From the point that the formal nomination and search process begins, a typical search for a Bishop Diocesan takes 18-24 months. That period has not yet started.
As Bishop Pro Tem, Bishop Hodges-Copple becomes the ecclesiastical authority, or “chief executive and pastoral officer,” for the Diocese of North Carolina. She will work with a subcommittee of the Standing Committee in the coming weeks to determine exactly what responsibilities she will carry, and what will be the responsibilities of an assisting bishop, the search for which will begin in the next few months.
“Our diocese is healthy and thriving, and the Standing Committee agreed this option was the natural one as it allows all of the great work being done throughout the diocese to continue without interruption,” said the Rev. Jim Melnyk, president of the Standing Committee. “With so many strong ministries in place, we wanted both to keep and strengthen the momentum they’ve got going.”
In addition to serving as Bishop Pro Tem, Bishop Hodges-Copple remains Bishop Suffragan of the diocese. “This is an extension of my call as Bishop Suffragan as outlined in the canons,” said Bishop Hodges-Copple. “I’m honored and excited to take on these responsibilities during this time of transition.”
The Standing Committee, Bishop Hodges-Copple and the Rt. Rev. Clay Matthews of the Presiding Bishop’s office will meet in September to begin setting a timeline for the preparation for and implementation of the election process. The process of electing the next Bishop Diocesan will be announced at the 200th annual convention in November.
Bishop Curry remains our Bishop Diocesan until his installation on November 1, 2015. November 1 is the working date for Bishop Hodges-Copple to begin serving as Bishop Pro Tem.
“Galilee goes on,” said Bishop Hodges-Copple. “This is not a time to pull back or retrench but to keep moving forward. As Bishop Curry has encouraged us to do, we must go deep, go speak and go do!”
With this decision, the Diocese is assured the strong leadership we have enjoyed during Bishop Curry’s tenure will continue. Additional details about the transition, including the election timeline, will continue to be shared with clergy and via diocesan communication channels as they develop. —via the Diocese of North Carolina