Seems that in light of the confusion surrounding my statement on the floor the annual conference, that some further word of explanation/interpretation is in order.
The confusion comes primarily from that the fact that due to the poor sound set up with the PA, the people on the dais and the podium could not hear what anyone said on the floor.
First, let me offer a series of admissions.
It was not my intent initially to name Selena as one who had endorsed the candidacy of someone from another conference. When I was called back to the mic to further clarify my remarks, I first thought the bishop wanted me to be more specific. What I later learned was that they literally couldn't make out what I said because they couldn't hear it. While that bell cannot be unrung, my only regret is that I spoke her name without her having the benefit of knowing I was going to do so in advance. The fact of her endorsement is hers to interpret.
What I was seeking initially was this: to remind people that although we cannot bind a delegate to vote for anyone (each delegate is a free agent at that point), the conference needed to understand that although we had endorsed Randy, it was no guarantee that the delegates (whom the conference had elected to represent them them year before), would honor it. It is easy to fall into the world of assumptions that it's a foregone conclusion that the delegates would abide the desire of the conference who elected them. It is not the case. Never has been.
One of the last things that was spoken during the General Conference report was not really a part of the report as much as it was word of caution spoken by Selena to the Annual Conference that we needed to know where our delegates stood on issues before electing them. It is the logic of her point I was trying to make.
A second admission.
I support Randy's candidacy. As I look across the landscape of candidates, there are some who are quite gifted for the work of bishop and will serve the church well. There are others who shouldn't run and will further hurt the church if they are elected.
None of them have heart for the Realm of God held more deeply than Randy. In this time of great systemic distress in the Church, we do not need any more system managers. The system itself must be re-formed. It will not reform itself. It can't. I've already addressed that in previous writings. More than that, however, our bishops must no longer be those who feel entitled because they're next in line, or their CVs are veritable brag sheets of what they've done.
Their love for God, their deepest desire to follow Jesus, and their desire to craft a movement of people in the image of the Acts 2-4 Church is THE thing. All other issues are secondary to that.
I know Randy's heart. I lived in a weekly accountability covenant group with him for a time when we both served in the Jackson District.
Does Randy have the experience of time on the cabinet that other candidates have? No. But so what? Neither did Ken Carder. And our conference has not had a spiritual leader of his kind since. And God knows we need one.
There've been candidates elected preeminently qualified within the system to be bishop, but nary an imagination of any prophetic substance. Systemic experience isn't a sufficient barometer.
System stuff can be learned.
A faithful heart for Christ lived with integrity cannot. You either have it, or you don't. Randy does.
A final admission.
While a delegate must vote as their conscience dictates, to not vote for the candidate from your conference seems to me, in the words my mother uses when something seems just a bit off, to be "tacky." It's just poor form. There's nothing theological about that. It just begs the question, "why?"
Well, there it is. Some thoughts about what happened, as I understood it, and what was driving me, which time at the mic doesn't allow. I hope that clears anything left unclear about my part in this.
In the meantime, I offer prayers for all delegates and candidates for the days ahead. I offer prayers especially for our episocopal area and the leadership we must have in this next iteration of our life together.