September 24, 2022
Dear colleagues and friends,
This week, following the Standing Committee’s announcement of the final slate of candidates for Bishop Coadjutor, I wrote to the nominees a note of welcome and of gratitude for their interest and availability to serve in the Diocese of Ohio. The Search Committee has done a wonderful job identifying such qualified priests to stand for election in November.
In my correspondence with them, I wrote of the canonical requirement that, at the electing convention, I will read my written consent to the election, stating therein the duties expected of the Bishop Coadjutor, once she is ordained. As well, I referenced the constitutional requirement that the duration of a coadjutor period must not exceed thirty-six months. I went on to explain my belief that, once the nominees have been selected, both they and the electing delegates ought to know my expectations in both regards, as everyone prepares for the Meet and Greet process.
To that end, I want to share with you what I shared with our nominees regarding those details and my consent to the election when we convene in November at the 206th Diocesan Convention.
Canon III.9(a)(2) of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church requires that “Before an election of a Bishop Coadjutor, the Bishop Diocesan shall read, or cause to be read, to the Convention the Bishop’s written consent to the election. The consent shall state the duties to be assigned to the Bishop Coadjutor when ordained. The consent shall form part of the proceedings of the Convention. The duties assigned by the Diocesan Bishop to the Bishop Coadjutor may be enlarged by mutual consent.”
The canon addresses duties assigned to the Bishop Coadjutor once she is ordained at the end of April. It is my expectation, however, that when she joins the Diocesan Staff as our Bishop Coadjutor-elect sometime before then, she will begin to work with staff colleagues and elected and appointed diocesan leaders in all areas of diocesan ministry. This will include Committees, Commissions, and Trustees of the Diocese, Deans of Mission Areas, and parochial clergy and lay leaders. The Bishop Coadjutor-elect will begin to visit parishes to celebrate, preach, and build relationships with communicants and clergy. After ordination to the episcopate, the Bishop Coadjutor will add episcopal functions to visitations (Confirmation, Reception, Reaffirmation, etc.) and share in all episcopal responsibilities, save those canonically required of bishops with jurisdiction. The Bishop Coadjutor will take either shared or full responsibility for liturgical and remarriage permissions, licensing of lay ministries, parish searches, financial and personnel matters, pastoral care of clergy and their families, and all episcopal duties allowed a Bishop Coadjutor by canon. Per Canon III.9(a)(2), these duties “may be enlarged by mutual consent.”
The duration of the period a Bishop Coadjutor serves before becoming the Bishop Diocesan is, as mentioned above, not required to be determined in advance either of election or consecration. Article II.1 of the Constitution of The Episcopal Church dictates only that “the retirement date of the Bishop Diocesan shall not be more than thirty-six months after the consecration of the Bishop Coadjutor.” It is my intention that the date of my resignation as Bishop of Ohio will be determined by the needs and desires of the Bishop Coadjutor. I expect, therefore, that the duration of the coadjutor period will be modest in length, likely a few months at most, and conclude well in advance of the 207th Diocesan Convention.
I know that you join me in holding our three nominees in our prayers as we move toward their time with us next month and our electing convention in November.
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio
May 25, 2022
What happened in Buffalo a week ago Saturday is not an anomaly. Nor is what happened in Laguna Woods and Uvalde in the days following. This who we are.
The shooting of 13 people shopping for food at a supermarket, 10 of whom have died and 11 of whom were Black, was an overtly racist act. It was perpetrated by an avowed white supremacist, livestreamed by him on the internet, at a Tops food market in a predominantly black neighborhood that is a three-and-a-half-hour drive from his home. The murder of one communicant and the critical injury of four others at an Orange County church was another well-planned execution, apparently politically motivated around issues of Taiwanese independence. That shooter traveled almost 300 miles from another state and mingled with churchgoers for 40 minutes before opening fire. And the slaughter of 19 elementary schoolchildren and two adults in Uvalde by an 18-year-old student from a nearby school was an act of such horrific violence against the most innocent of victims that it all but defies contemplation.
All of these were premediated acts of gun violence. Some will argue that each was the action of a deranged individual, which it surely was, and thereby distance themselves from it as aberrant and not reflective of who we are as a country and society, which it just as surely was not. These were three of more than 200 mass shootings in the United States so far this year. We are the most heavily armed and personally weaponized country on earth. It is not simply that the alleged killers should not have had these guns. It is not just about the shooters. We live in a society that makes it possible for them and most citizens to have guns without training, permit, or good reason. This is who we are.
Nor is it simply that these were perpetrated with racist motives or values that do not reflect the morals and ethics enshrined in our Constitution and taught by all but extremist religious traditions. Throughout our history as a nation, we have made room for slavery, prejudice, inequality, inequity, hate, and, thereby, the continued expression of racism and the battle for supremacy of one demographic over another. Even in our religious communities is this so. This reality persists, and we, the people of this country, allow it to do so. This, too, is who we are.
For some, defining ourselves and our country as racist and violent is anathema. Of course, this is not what most of us want to accept about our identity. We cannot help but recoil from it. But such hateful and violent acts are shameful not only for the perpetrators, but for all of us who pledge to support a safe, supportive society wherein self-sacrifice and surrender of privilege assure the rights of others to go safely to school, church, and the market. We promise equality and justice for all, yet refuse to enact laws that provide them. We likely should be more ashamed of not owning our truth and not helping one another to repair the breach. We are quick to claim national pride when something good happens. We must be equally quick to take national responsibility when something shameful does.
As Jesus repeatedly showed, both in his words and his actions, love must be taught. That teaching begins in naming and owning where we have fallen short. It is a matter of confession, accepting what God knows about us. God knows that we fall short and, with God’s help, can do better. We should be indefatigable in giving our schoolchildren something more than successful Active Shooter Drills to be proud of. The violence and racism of our society are not their fault. Its repair, however, is their opportunity. An honest acceptance of where and who we are provides the only stable place from which they, and we, can proceed.
I don’t like the fact that I belong to a violent and racist society. It is a hard truth for me to accept. But time and again, we find that, without confession, without accepting the truth, we have nowhere to go because we are not starting where we are. Very often it is the realities we are most reluctant to face that provide the place where change begins. These are truths we need to own. Owning them informs our prayer, and prayer informs our action.
I encourage you, in both your personal devotions and corporate worship, to pray the Litany in the Wake of a Mass Shooting, maintained and offered by Bishops United Against Gun Violence, of which the Bishops of Ohio are members. And I invite clergy to wear orange stoles at the ordinations on Saturday and on subsequent Sundays.
God knows, we can change this if we are willing to do the work. God surely does.
The Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth, Jr.
Bishop of Ohio