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episcopal franchise

I am glad that faculty emeriti do not have votes in the councils of the
academy.  Otherwise I might be tempted to vote on issues of special
interest to me while not continuing to keep abreast of all the issues that
as president of the University Senate I needed to know to weigh rival
claims for the faculty's priorities.

It would be too easy for me to pass off my point of view as wisdom, when
now it is likely out of date.  I enjoyed my 44 years as a professor
immensely.  I do not need a vote at any faculty meeting.

The church is the other medieval institution which I inhabit. One of the
ugliest scenes sometimes reported in our polity may be largely apocryphal,
that of bishops being wheeled in on respirators and under oxygen tents to
cast votes against the latest innovation, be it a revised prayer book, the
ordination of women.....

You do not have to be a voting member of either House to have influence on
the votes of General Convention.  Long before I became a deputy, I
influenced more votes than the single vote that I have as a deputy.

We already restrict votes to bishops with jurisdiction on some matters we
consider of great importance, such as consent to the election of a new
bishop.   For example, although he has been Bishop of South Carolina since
1990, Bishop Ed Salmon will not have a vote on consents for bishops-elect
considered at Columbus.  In January Bishop Salmon experienced mandatory
retirement.  He now serves without jurisdiction as the interim bishop in
South Carolina.

Four other dioceses at the moment do not have bishops with jurisdiction: 
El Camino Real, Navajoland, Southern Ohio, and Southern Virginia.

A bishop-elect will require consents of 54 bishops with jurisdiction
(half + one of the 106 dioceses who do have current bishops with

Any retired bishop can influence the outcome of a vote far more than most
who vote if he or she is willing to do the hard work of persuasion, by
speaking and writing to issues.  Jack Spong opposes the vote to retired
bishops and on principle has not gone near a House of Bishops meeting
since he retired in January 2000, but he continues to influence more votes
in that House than do many of its active members by virtue of being one
"who speak[s] where many listen and write[s] what many read" and in so
doing helps to make "the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and
its will righteous; to the honor of Jesus Christ our Lord" (BCP 827)  If
you don't believe that can happen, don't pray it.

I feel the same about the young who argue that they ought, because young,
to be elected as deputies.  No so.  People ought to be elected deputies
because of a demonstrated record of service to the diocese.   Many young
people have such a record, and we should be careful not to exclude them
because of their youth; nor should we treat them as second class, as we
would if we honored them only for their youth and not for their
demonstrated record of service.

Louie Crew
Chair of the Newark Deputation, Member of Executive Council

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