Lent – Day 28: When the Priest Turns Purple, we have Bishop!

I was taking note the other day that I have beer in my fridge that has mountains on the label that turn blue when the beer is at the proper temperature for consummation…..hmmmmm….then I noted that my razor has a blue strip that turns white when it has dulled to the place of plucking each follicle from my tender face instead of cutting smoothly with one of its 5 blades. (By the by, having shaved with it for over a month I still cannot hit a golf ball like Tiger Woods!)…. Hmmmm….then I went off to London with over 400 friends to elect a Suffragan Bishop. I looked about the room and there were two guys wearing purple, our diocesan Bishop – Bob Bennett and Bishop Ed Liedel who is our Diocesan ‘Small Congregation Coach." All the rest of the clergy were wearing black. Well mostly…I mean some wear blue and some denim etc but for the most part the 10 candidates all wore black so for the purposes of this story – Black it is!

"So how do we get a Bishop?" I thought to myself. From my observations in the beer fridge and having just leering into the face of my Ford Fusion Razor I deduced we have to wait for the black to turn purple, and then we will know! To say that it got embarrassing, walking around staring at my colleague’s clergy shirts would be an understatement. Those shirts were black and the longer I looked at then the blacker they got. At one point when I looked at one candidate’s shirt I thought I saw a hint of purple, but upon further examination it was a stain from a Mr. Freezy consumed that morning to bring the temperature down from all the stress. It took four ballots to elect our Suffragan Bishop. The Very Reverend Terry Dance was in the lead from the start, so I looked at his shirt more closely than most. I am embarrassed now to admit that could even believe that we would tell who was bishop by a change in shirt colour.


Apparently, the way it works is a candidate has to receive 50% plus one in the house of clergy and the house of laity. After that – he/she could change his/her shirt colour by wearing purple. After four ballots, Terry prevailed. As a church we believe that electing a bishop is really about calling and about discerning the will of the Holy Spirit. At St. Paul’s Cathedral in London we prayed and sought to raise up a leader for the church in these very difficult times. My prayer now is that Terry and his wife Dianne will know the presence of God as they prepare for this transition. The Bishop is the chief pastor in a diocese and a Suffragan Bishop is a full time assistant. In some diocese, including Huron, the Suffragan Bishop is afforded a large degree of autonomy and latitude within geographical regions of a diocese. The process of choosing a person who will offer that oversight is an important one. We are now holding up a Terry Dance to be one of the chief pastors of this diocese. We have poured a lot of resource into the synod office to provide good administrative care – what we seek from Bob Bennett and now Terry Dance is strong shepherding and pastoral care of the people of God.

Terry’s shirt was still black when we left the cathedral on Saturday. I suspect that it will turn purple on June 6th when he is consecrated as a bishop. We now trust the guiding of the Holy Spirit who has called Terry to be bishop that She will provide all that is necessary to support him on this journey. One could see how very humbled Suffragan-Bishop Elect Terry was on Saturday. We pray that Terry’s life of service to Christ in the church which has now called him to this office bear witness to the love, hope, healing and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. I also pray that we may be a people who strengthen the bishop in his ministry. Each priest is rector for the bishop in each parish. I pray that we may serve our people and our bishops well, by serving the One who called us to this life of humility and service.


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