I have intentionally refrained from commenting on the recent election of the Rev. John C. Bauerschmidt as the twelfth bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Tennessee (now comprising the central part of the state, the west and east of the state each being their own dioceses now) until I’d had time to reflect on it more. I want to say to begin with that I don’t envy Fr. Bauerschmidt his job. To be a Bishop at this point in the life of the Episcopal Church is a difficult task with a great deal of uncertainty. I am pleased and hopeful that Fr. Bauerschmidt was elected and I look forward to working with and supporting him as I can. I was impressed with his responses to the questions submitted by the search committee and liked him when I met him in person. In speaking with him he seemed to be a person who “gets it,” and understands the current situation in the Anglican Communion and indeed in global Christianity, i.e. that what goes on in the US–while spiritually important–isn’t as practically important as many American Episcopalians in our self-important bubbles, believe it to be (I include myself at least partially in that indictment). In short I think that our bishop-elect understands the importance of communion, the importance of maintaining our relationships with other Christians, especially those in our own communion around the world as well as the fact that the average Christian (to say nothing of the average Anglican in particular) is non-white, poor and female.
All-in-all I’m looking forward to interacting more with Fr. Bauerschmidt, and I believe the Diocese of Tennessee will be in good hands when he takes office. I pray that we will be able to build on the wonderful work for the Kingdom that has taken place during Bishop Herlong’s episcopate, particularly his church planting initiative which has meant so much to the numerical and spiritual growth and health of the diocese.