Lay and Clergy members of the Territory of the People have identified some key characteristics that we hope our new Bishop will have both personally and in leadership capabilities.
The Territory has been through a difficult time since the election of our last Bishop. There was great hurt and disappointment across all our communities when their episcopate ended so suddenly. Many people have spoken of a sense of betrayal and distrust. This was all compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, the devastating fire in Lytton, and the floods in Merritt and the Nicola Valley. We continue to work through all of these deep feelings and are on a healing road, but the Territory remains in what we could describe as a tender place.
Therefore, we seek a faithful chief pastor who listens and guides us. A person of deep prayer and faith. Someone who can teach us and strengthen our relationship with God in Jesus. We want someone committed to walking with us and helping us heal and look forward.
We seek someone who will model a strong personal prayer life together with spiritual, physical, and emotional self-care. Liturgically, we seek someone who is flexible and welcomes new forms and expressions of worship. We have communities that incorporate Indigenous practices into worship and many ecumenically partnered parishes. We strongly believe these local practices bring vitality and freshness to our worship.
We seek someone who will inspire new leaders across the Territory. The current age of our clergy is high, as is the general age of our lay leaders. We need someone to help us search for and support new vocations. Someone who will continue to explore new models of ministry with us and be supportive of our locally raised up programs of study for clergy. Parishes generally remain open when a vacancy occurs for longer than average; for example, the parishes in Prince George have been searching for two years now. We are aware that there is a shortage of clergy across the country and that there are difficulties in recruiting clergy to the Council of the North Dioceses, and yet we know we have a lot to offer and that God wants the church to grow. We seek someone with vision and excitement for what is yet to come in the Territory of the People. We would hope for flexibility in supporting both traditional seminary education and local training.
We work best here in the Territory in a collaborative leadership model; we want an encourager, an equipper, and a teacher. We do not expect someone to come in with ready-made answers but to work with us through prayer and discernment on our local needs and dreams.
We seek a bishop who is inclusive and loving of all God’s children and supports people in their life in Christ regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or age.
Our Bishop will need to be prepared to travel long distances year-round, so they will need to be comfortable in winter driving and be prepared to have several nights away from home each month if they are to be present in each parish community in the way we hope.
We are an aging church in the Territory of the People; we face that with honesty and want to find ways to be more invitational and intentional about growth. We seek a bishop that will teach us how to build on the work we have done and build momentum in this area; this is a critical priority for our future health in every parish across the Territory of the People.
Leadership in Ecclesiastical Province of BC Yukon
The Bishop of the Territory of the People is part of the Provincial House of Bishops of B.C. Yukon. The Provincial House of Bishops enjoys good, supportive colleague relationships.The Synod of the Province, its Executive Council, and the House of Bishops are in discussion about what parts of our diocesan work can be shared as a Province, as we face financial stress, clergy shortages, and aging people. How might we cooperate and create structures to minister together more effectively as a province? For example, some of the dioceses share payroll programs. We collaborate on Training Resources for our Sexual Misconduct Policies. In February, we have a webinar for the whole Province to help parishes build Emergency Preparedness Plans. We are embarking on hiring a Refugee Sponsorship Coordinator together for the Province, as most of our Dioceses can no longer look after this ministry alone.We assume that Episcopal Leaders must be adaptive and imaginative leaders who are willing to enter into courageous conversations about restructuring for the future of the Church.