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Gayla Jo Slauson's reaction to webinar proposing not replacing bishops (as a lay delegate)
February 16, 2021
On Saturday, the delegates to General Conference from the Western Jurisdiction met to discuss the proposal to not replace bishops who are retiring. This situation seems to be attributed to the episcopal fund decreasing over the years and not looking to be sustainable at least for the short term.
My background in business affects my view of the proposal. In a business, someone in charge must prioritize goals and determine where resources go to make those reality. It seems to me that there are those who are wanting to control the remaining episcopacy funds in such a way that would diminish the future of our jurisdiction. The Western Jurisdiction, with three of five bishops retiring, would face significant impacts from a situation of not replacing those bishops.
What I did not hear was a proposal for all of the bishops across the denomination to take cuts in salary for the good of the whole.
Furthermore, I do believe that there may be alternatives not yet considered, particularly in the long run. Our current system with bishops in physical offices, and conferences with specified structures has existed for many years and that longevity may support its efficacy, but technology has truly changed the ways we operate. Perhaps jurisdictions and conferences no longer need to be so strictly bound by locations on maps. We tend to cling tightly to the former ways, and when we see a huge fund like the episcopacy fund losing ground, we may think we need to protect what is left at all cost. I hardly think so. The bishops have had a good run. I don’t know that we need to keep the system we have.
At the same time, administration and management are often undervalued and critical to success. I think of an orchestra who decides they don’t need a conductor. When an orchestra performs using technology, the conductor must do a different set of actions while remaining more critical than ever to helping the orchestra perform together.
In the short run, I would not vote for the proposal that was presented. I believe it would unfairly harm the Western Jurisdiction over the other jurisdictions. In the short term, the Western Jurisdiction does need to elect three bishops.