One of the oddities of ecclesial life is that priests can’t be members of a parish. When ordained, the new cleric’s “residency” moves from a parish to the diocese; more specifically, the residency moves to the clericus, the body of clergy within a diocese. The same holds for a bishop, who upon ordination leaves the diocesan clericus to join the college of bishops (not simply the Episcopal House of Bishops, mind you, but the college of bishops of the Catholic Church of Christ, however infrequently they actually meet!).
My ecclesial or canonical residency is in the Diocese of Dallas, even though I live in Milwaukee. Dallas is where I was ordained and where I served in parish ministry for eight years. Since I didn’t move to Milwaukee for a parochial job but for doctoral studies, it made sense to remain resident in Dallas (the legal process is that a priest in my situation makes a formal request to the local bishop for a license to function as a priest within his diocese, which Bishop Miller has kindly granted).
All of the clergy of the Diocese of Dallas, along with lay representatives from each parish and mission, will elect the seventh Bishop of Dallas on Saturday, May 16, 2015. This election is critical, since Dallas is one of the largest dioceses associated with Communion Partners, and it contains some of the most vibrant and growing parishes in the Episcopal Church .
What I want to suggest are a few aspects of episcopal ministry that I believe all of us might do well to consider. These are the kinds of priorities that we should hope for and expect in our bishops, which means that we need to provide them the means to undertake them. I present them in the form of seven theses: