Entering a Season of Discernment

“Discern is a stately word for a stately spiritual process. There is a gravitas to the word discern that decide just does not have. We can make quick decisions, but true discernment takes longer, goes deeper, and can have more serious consequences. Discernment demands a careful eye, not only on the object or opportunity before us, but even more importantly, on ourselves. Discernment is knowing ourselves turned out into the world around us. It tests our values, our wisdom, and our integrity. To discern is to see beyond and to see before: all at the same time.” — Steve Charleston

On Saturday, candidates for the X Bishop (the 10th Bishop of Minnesota), spent “Time with the Bishop,” during their weekend here in Minnesota with the Search Team. I began our time together expressing my deep gratitude for their willingness to enter into discernment with ECMN. I wanted to acknowledge that fully embracing discernment is heavy, holy work. In my experience, as Bishop Charleston says above, it does “have more serious consequences.” Every person I know who has done discernment work for the Episcopate has shared with with me that it is the most personally consuming work they have done, particularly in light of the high level of public vulnerability involved. Fielding written questions, in-person interviews, presentations, extremely high-level vetting and background checks, and finally standing (or sitting) in front of a group of strangers in multiple locations on multiple days as they ask very important questions, is not for the faint of heart. And that is why I want, both personally, and as the Bishop of ECMN, to let the candidates know how grateful we are.

Discernment for the Episcopate is, of course, done mutually. Candidates and ECMN are both discerning whether and how their gifts match those of the other party as we look to ECMN’s next season. That is why I am also deeply grateful for ECMN’s Bishop X Search Team. Our friends and colleagues from across our Church have done their own very heavily lifting to get us to where we are in this process. We all owe these incredible, faithful folks huge thanks for their willingness to give so much of themselves for our discernment in this Episcopate transition.

The other part of ECMN’s side of this mutual discernment is you. First and foremost, your continued prayers are incredibly important. I gently remind us all that this is not intended to be a political process, but rather is an ongoing seeking of the Holy Spirit, leading us to who God is calling to be the X Bishop of Minnesota. Second, please show up. To engage discernment with integrity, it is important to learn as much as you can, and if at all possible, attend one of the gatherings on the Road Trip in January. And finally, if you have been called to be a delegate at our Convention in January, where we will be electing the X Bishop, please come with an open mind and open heart so we can truly discern the Holy Spirit’s leading. And please know of my deep gratitude for your discernment.


One thought on “Entering a Season of Discernment

  1. Bishop Prior,
    Reading this blog post caused me to cry, not an easy feat. I cry because this post made your departure all the more real to me and I am sad to see you go. I cry because I am excited for you and to see what is it that our Lord has in store for you as you continue to serve Him in a different capacity . I cry because I am in the midst of some discernment that is demanding a much more careful eye than I have ever had cause to use, and the consequences feel huge and at times frightening. But most of all I cry because God is good, very good, and because I am confident that the Holy Spirit is going to have Her way as all of the discernment draws to a close.
    I thank you for all you have done in my life, most of which. You are probably not even aware of having done. I thank you for being my Bishop, and for being a true man of God as you served, and continue to serve ECMN.

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