Choosing the Bishop

We began the process of electing a new bishop for the Diocese of Aberdeen and Orkney in succession to Bishop Robert Gillies yesterday. Canon 4 offers a carefully worked-out road map of how this is to be done. So it has an ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’ kind of clarity about it. I’m an admirer of Canon 4. It gives careful and detailed consideration to those who are nominated. It seeks information. It allows the candidates to speak for themselves. It takes time and it expects that time to be used for prayer. I’m bound to be an admirer since this was the process which brought me to Scotland.

But of course what it doesn’t do is to tell the electors how to do vocational discernment. But at the opening Eucharist. So fortunately I was on hand yesterday to conduct this discussion with myself about the nature of vocational discernment and its application to episcopal ministry. So here is the Sermon from the Eucharist


  1. This guidance of Canon 4 to me is a real conversational article, not to have preconceived ideas prior to a candidates representation is a balanced approach. However to to eliminate preconception in it’s entirety, would I believe be humanly impossible, for instance, a continuum of Bishop Bob’s evenagelical work should be a prerequisite for candidates acceptance, new brooms don’t always sweep clean!.

    I believe there are clergy in our diocese who would benefit from a Bishop who acknowledges that we are in the 21st century and to grow in the knowledge and love of our lord should be in the language of those who will take the church into the 22nd.

    1. Thanks Julia. I was trying to set out the idea of vocational discernment as a sort of spiritual art. It may be like a secular process in some aspects – for example openness, transparency and accountability – but unlike in recognising that we are involved in a ‘God thing’. As for preconception, you will see that I said that we shouldn’t approach this with a fixed idea of who we want to see elected. But we should certainly have some preconception about what kind of leadership the diocese needs to carry it forward. Which is why I talked about a meeting of the vocation of the diocese with the vocation of a priest.

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