Position Description: Bishop Diocesan

Approved by the Standing Committee on February 2, 2023

I.  All bishops are charged by ordination to do the following (from ordination liturgy, BCP p. 518):

  • To be loyal to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church
  • To be faithful in prayer and in the study of Holy Scripture
  • To proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ
  • To serve as chief priest and pastor, specifically to encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts and ministries, pray for them, and celebrate with them the sacraments
  • To guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church
  • To share with one’s fellow bishops in the government of the Church, sustain and take counsel with one’s fellow presbyters, and guide and strengthen the deacons and other ministers
  • To be merciful to all, show compassion to the poor and strangers, and defend those who have no helper.

There are other commitments as well, which elucidate how to approach the above, in the Examination on p. 517. They include being one with the apostles, testifying to Christ’s sovereignty, being a faithful pastor and wholesome example, and taking joy in following him who came not to be served but to serve.

II. Diocesan bishops are specifically charged with certain responsibilities. These are described in the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, from which the following is drawn:    

  • Serve as the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese
  • Visit every congregation in the diocese at least once every three years to preside at the Eucharist and rites of initiation
  • Report on the state of the diocese to each annual Diocesan Convention
  • Appoint members of the Commission on Ministry and other diocesan bodies
  • Establish guidelines for licensed ministries
  • Establish, in consultation with the Commission on Ministry, procedures to identify and select persons with evident gifts and fitness for ordination to the diaconate and priesthood; admit postulants and candidates for ordination; develop and monitor programs of preparation for ordination
  • Assign deacons to congregations or other ministries; approve nominees for rector
  • Accept Letters Dimissory for priests desiring to become canonically resident in the diocese; issue licenses to officiate in the diocese
  • Assist in efforts to resolve disagreements in pastoral relationships between rectors and congregations
  • Receive clergy from other churches into this communion
  • Take part in disciplinary proceedings involving clergy, in accordance with Title IV of the canons

Other responsibilities are articulated in the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese of Southern Ohio:

  • Serve as the Ordinary of all religious or benevolent organizations of the Church within this diocese
  • Adjudicate disputes between rectors of two or more congregations, a congregation or its vestry and its rector, and persons adversely claiming to be vestry members of a congregation
  • Preside at Diocesan Convention and meetings of Diocesan Council
  • Prepare or cause to be prepared a list of canonically resident clergy and clergy entitled to seats in Diocesan Convention
  • Nominate delegates to the Provincial Synod, Treasurer of the diocese, Registrar of the diocese, members of the Finance Committee; appoint the Secretary of the Convention, a Chancellor, Historiographer, three members of Diocesan Council, three members of the Budget Committee, members of the Commission on Congregational Life, a Church Attorney and other participants in Title IV proceedings
  • Designate Mission Stations; give permission for establishment of Missions; set criteria to distinguish Missions from Parishes, make provisional designation of Missions to Parishes and Parishes to Missions; conduct inquiries into the health of congregations that may be at risk and support such congregations in recovery of health
  • Appoint Vicars and Priests-in-charge
  • Oversee the process of closing congregations

In the terms of secular institutions, though not an exact parallel, diocesan bishops serve as the “CEO” of the diocese. Specifically, they 

  • Act as principal spokesperson for the diocese with outside organizations
  • Help define and communicate vision, along with the Diocesan Convention, Standing Committee, Diocesan Council, diocesan staff, and other bodies and in discernment with the diocese

Diocesan bishops also serve as the “COO”:  that is, they

  • Hire, supervise, and lead the staff, and 
  • Perform other administrative functions

The Bishop Diocesan is, however, primarily a spiritual leader. The “CEO” and “COO” functions of the bishop must not supersede their role as the chief priest and pastor of the diocese.

III.  Current responsibilities of the Bishop Diocesan of Southern Ohio include:

Goals, determined in collaboration with the Standing Committee, that advance the mission and ministry of the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Goals shall be set annually as part of a mutual ministry review.

Service to the Episcopal Church, including participation in the House of Bishops, General Convention, and provincial meetings. Service on interim bodies as appointed by the Presiding Bishop.

Service on boards, as the bishop discerns to be appropriate. Past diocesan bishops have served on the boards of Bexley-Seabury Seminary Federation and other seminaries, Kenyon College, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Episcopal Retirement Services, and Forward Movement.

Taking all time off allotted for each year, including two days off per week, annual vacation and retreat time, sick days as necessary, and sabbatical leave, as set forth in the Bishop Diocesan’s Letter of Agreement.