The Reverend Brian Prior was elected as the 9th Bishop of Minnesota today on the 5th ballot ... rising to the top of a stellar and diverse slate of qualified candidates for the episcopate.
"Where does he stand on 'your issues,'" I was asked a little while ago ... as it became clear that his election was likely.
"Which one of "my issues" are you asking about?" I asked back. (Still feeling a little contrary since the Dodgers aren't in the World Series.)
"You mean "my issues" of proclaiming the Good News of God in Christ Jesus -- or "my issues" of protecting the dignity of every human being -- or of striving for peace and justice -- of serving the least, the last and the lost? Which "issues" do you want to start with?"
When asked about ministry with the marginalized, including the LGBT community, bishop-elect Prior replied, [from the DioMN website candidate Q&A page] "The amount of work and witness still needed to combat the lack of respect for the dignity of every human being is unquestionably clear.
[In seminary] the core Gospel justice value of inclusion became a theological priority. Consistently since that time I have worked to challenge systems that at best marginalize, and at worst outright exclude others based on race, gender, sexual orientation or age. The foundational question that I always ask those I serve with is this: who is not, and why are they not, at the table."
So ... would I have loved to have had the Diocese of Minnesota send a woman or LGBT bishop to the House of Bishops? Absolutely. When faced with equally qualified candidates for any leadership position I believe it behooves those with the power to do so to exercise a preferential option for the under-represented and to bring those without power to the table.
Nevertheless ... I believe at this point in the life of the church it is a sign of GREAT good news that a diocese has had the opportunity to choose from a slate of qualified candidates the one they and the Holy Spirit have discerned to be the BEST bishop to lead them into God's future. A slate that included men and women, gay and straight, Anglo and Native American. This is our Episcopal Church at its best.
The Diocese of Minnesota has elected a new bishop. Let us rejoice and be glad with them!