Living in the World

Crozier and CrownQuite possibly as a result of poor drafting of a the new Bishop Election Ordinance the Synod of the Diocese of Newcastle failed to elect a Bishop.

The Administrator of the Diocese has written to the Parishes suggestion that the next election synod will be on the weekend September 13, 14, 15 2013. The unfortunate part of this is that it happens to include the 14th of September, the date that has been set as the date of the Australian Federal Election.

This of course poses many questions. I presume that it was just a mistake. Clearly the Church has a responsibility to participate and encourage its members to fully participate in the robust expression of the Australian Democratic system.  Planing hold the Diocesan Election Synod across that weekend sends a very poor message , perhaps even suggesting that the Church is in some way not involved.

Of course alternatively it may suggest that the decision makers are not abreast and in touch with what is happening in the so called real world, having been struck with the need not to clash with a cursillo weekend or other events in the life of the Diocese. The fact that the National election was not mentioned in the letter to the parishes advising the date suggests to me that it just didn’t raise a blip on the radar whilst the rest of us are counting down.

I think it is important that as Christians we are very much involved in the world. It s the incarnational motif that we should be part of our community, and hopefully an active and positive part of it.

The election synod probably failed as a result of a change on the voting system. It has always been a bit complex, however the idea is to work quickly down to a short list, and the in successive ballots the bottom one drops off, until one candidate achieves a 2/3rd majority in both houses. The previous ordinance provided that if at the two candidates left vote if one candidate achieve a majority, but not a 2/3rds majority in both houses, that a ballot was had with that name, to say yes or no, and if the candidate was then able to achieve a 2/3rd majority in both houses then they were offered the see. This final election on the one name was not available under the new ordinance so the synod was unable to determine if the majority candidate was acceptable to the synod.

At one level the final ballot may seem quaint, however it clearly allows one to vote for the candidate of your choice, when confronted with two candidates who would be acceptable to you. The the members of the house of clergy this is a particular privilege as they owe an allegiance to the Bishop of the Diocese, and the Bishop being invited has the confidence of knowing that a substantive majority of the clergy support their election.


Supplementary Note: it transpires that since I wrote this there have been a number of changes, including the synod hours moved to accommodate voting, the parliamentary labour party electing a new leader necessitating a new Prime Minister who indicates that the 14th of September is Yom Kippur (The Jewish Holy Day of Atonement) and therefore he is reluctant to call the election for that date.  It is unclear if he intends to spring it early or go late, for the moment it would seem that the Administrator was in tune with the leading of the Holy Spirit to set the date he has set. The hope is that the representatives will also be in tune with the leading of the Holy Spirit in finding a new Bishop for the Diocese. The ordinance has been modified to enable an election to be achieved without failing the way it did last time, so all is well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things will be well.



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