The Electoral synod of Argyll and The Isles met yesterday. We should still have been in Oban today, deciding which candidate would become our Bishop, but there were no candidates to hear yesterday, and there is no election today. And I could perhaps have been forgiven for a bit of despair. It's been a long process since September, and we seem no nearer finding a suitable Bishop than we ever were.
But in fact yesterday's meeting was anything but despair-inducing. Without pre-empting the official sources (come on, chaps - what's keeping you?) I feel free to say that the mood yesterday was thoughtful, that our sense of purpose was stronger than ever, that our resolve to find not just any old bishop but someone who would have the special qualities needed for this diocese had deepened. I feel that we have changed over the 36 years I have known Argyll, that the laity are no longer content to sit back and smile indulgently at clerical quirks or leave all the thinking to one of two folks with cut glass accents or titles or both.
It was acknowledged more than once that just as managing a small parish could be a good deal harder than managing a large one, so the demands of running a numerically small diocese were in many ways more challenging than running a large one - and that's before you even begin to consider the ferries, the miles of single-track roads, the weather ... Yes: it takes a special kind of priest to do this, and we shall find one.
The road we chose demonstrates, I think, a profound acceptance of what it means to be a Scottish Episcopalian, and a considerable degree of trust. And after all these weeks of national politics, this felt good.
Stop press (or something): The official wording for what we decided can be found here. If you're too idle to go there, it says this: The Electoral Synod met yesterday (13 May 2010) and adjourned after discussion. The result of this is that the right of election will lapse to the Episcopal Synod, as provided in Canon 4 of the Church’s Code of Canons.