Dallas diocese announces 4 nominees for bishop

By diocesan staff
Posted Feb 3, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Dallas press release] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas has announced a slate of four nominees to stand for the election as 7th bishop of the diocese. The candidates are:

  • The Rev. Michael W. Michie, 46, rector of St. Andrew’s, McKinney, Texas;
  • The Rev. David G. Read, 49, rector of St. Luke’s, San Antonio, Texas;
  • The Rev. R. Leigh Spruill, 51, rector of St. George’s, Nashville, Tennessee;
  • The Rev. Dr. George R. Sumner, 59, principal of Wycliffe College, Toronto, Canada.

More information about each of the nominees is available at www.dallasbishopsearch.org.

A petition process for submitting additional names is open from Feb. 3-16. Complete information about the petition process and the petition form are available at www.dallasbishopsearch.org. If petition candidates are received, they will be announced by the Standing Committee and added to the slate no later than April 6, pending the required background checks.

The slate is the result of a seven-month discernment process conducted by a Bishop Search Committee composed of lay and clergy members from across the diocese and reporting to the Standing Committee. With the announcement of the slate, a Transition Committee, also made up of lay and clergy members from across the diocese, implements the next stages of the election process, also reporting to the Standing Committee.

The nominees will participate in a series of open “walkabout” meetings from April 20-23, allowing members of the diocese to meet and learn more about the candidates. More information on the times and locations of the meetings will be forthcoming, along with additional information on each candidate, on the bishop-search website.

The election will take place Saturday, May 16. A majority in each of the two orders (clergy and lay delegates) is required for the election of the new bishop. Consent is required from a majority of the Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishops and standing committees. The consecration of the bishop-elect is scheduled for November 2015.

The search for bishop began with the retirement of Bishop James M. Stanton, who served in the role for 21 years until May 2014. The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas is home to more than 70 congregations in the Northeast Texas area, where the combined average Sunday attendance is about 11,300.


Comments (23)

  1. Cynthia Katsarelis says:

    I haven’t been paying attention. Is it normal for a slate of 4 candidates to be all male and all white? Is that really OK? Does that represent the Body of Christ?

    1. Robert Lane says:

      Last time I checked, one’s sex and race is not a qualification for being a Bishop in the Church. So, yep, if the men are qualified, then it is ok that they are male and white. It would also be ok if they were all women, brown, black or green with purple polka dots.

    2. Cynthia,

      Please see my comment below. After a truly open process advertised far and wide throughout the church, the Search Committee received zero nominations for female priests and zero nominations for persons of color.

      So, while a slate of four “white guys” may be the result, the process was in no way designed to achieve that result. Simply put, an “all white male slate” was not the intent. And now we’ve moved to an open petition process where all nominations will be received without any discrimination on the basis of gender or race/ethnicity. Thanks.

  2. Randell Franklyn Busby says:

    Amen, Sr. Katsarelis!

    Imagine that, 4 white males are the only folks in the Episcopal church worthy of serving the good people of Dallas. The good news is that they’ll be able re-purpose all those white cassocks from the consecration.

    1. I certainly hope this isn’t a reference to the KKK. If so, it’s wildly inappropriate and fundamentally untrue.

  3. Lisa Fox says:

    I’d say it’s pretty normal for Texas. 🙁

  4. Grace Cangialosi says:

    Cynthia, I believe it is the norm for this diocese. They were one of the last to ordain women priests.

  5. Hi, Cynthia and Grace (and everyone else),

    Having four candidates is not particularly odd, recent examples include Central Gulf Coast (4), Central Pennsylvania (3), and East Carolina (4).

    As to gender and race/ethnicity: the Diocese of Dallas conducted an open nomination process announced through every available Episcopal channel and the Search Committee received zero nominations for female priests and zero nominations for persons of color. It only follows that the committee could not produce a slate containing nominees we did not have.

    In addition, the Diocese of Dallas strongly supports the ordination of women.

  6. Selena Smith says:

    I think what is normal and what is “OK” is for each diocese to follow its canons as well as the canons of the National Church. So the Nominating Committee has presented its candidates. Now what is normal and “OK” for that diocese is that nominations by petition may be submitted. Other dioceses have different canons about process, how the slate of candidates is determined, and that’s what’s
    normal and “OK” as well. That’s how this part of the Body of Christ is represented.

  7. Robert Allen (Diocese of Virginia) says:

    The announcement says that “Consent is required from a majority of the Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishops and standing committees.” but will this election not fall within 90 days of General Convention, and so trigger the consent process there? In that case, the diocesan bishops still vote, as usual (but at one time and place, so it’s quicker) and the consents of the Standing Committees are replaced by a vote in the HoD.

    1. Robert,

      While the process you’ve described was previously the canonical norm, the TEC canons were changed by General Convention (I know this is true in the 2012 canons, not sure about 2009.) to remove that requirement so bishops-elect do not have a different process for obtaining consents just because they happened to be elected close to a General Convention. I believe the motivation, from both sides of the aisle, was to limit the potential inquisition that obtaining consents at General Convention can become.

  8. Whit Johnstone says:

    Are any of the current nominees likely to change the Diocese’s position on same-sex unions/marriages? Or on the other side, are any of the nominees likely to try to pull the diocese out of the Episcopal Church?

    1. I do not believe any of the candidates are remotely likely to change the Diocese’s position on SSM.

      The Diocese of Dallas isn’t going anywhere. Those who would leave after 2003 and beyond have already done so. I have absolutely zero concern that the diocese (of which I am a priest) wishes to leave and absolutely zero concern than any of these four candidates would push us in that direction. It’s been twelve years since 2003, and here we are, happily still a part of the church of which we’ve been a part since our founding.

    2. Doug Kerr says:

      The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas is by definition a component of The Episcopal Church, and thus could not be “taken out of the Episcopal Church”.

      It would of course be possible, as happened a few years ago just to the west of The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, that the Bishop might decide to leave The Episcopal Church, as might some other church officials, and perhaps many of the clergy as well, and perhaps many of the parishioners.

      But the next morning, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (the real one) was as extant as ever, still a component of The Episcopal Church.

      And in that diocese, in Parker County, Texas, that next morning a brand new Episcopal Church held mass in fine style, not in brick and mortar now “occupied” by the former bishop, but in a beautiful school cafeteria, with a hawk circling majestically just outside the beautiful plate glass windows.

      1. Doug,

        Regardless of one’s opinion of whether or not it is possible for a whole diocese to depart TEC, I think we can all agree that we should be thankful that none of these candidates are of a mind to move in that direction. So, the question of which Diocese of Fort Worth is the “real one” or the “original one” is rather beside the point.

        The good news is that the Diocese of Dallas has stayed and there should be no anxiety that the next bishop elected from this slate would seek to change that reality.

  9. Whit Johnstone says:

    FWIW, to me Fr. Sumner stands head and shoulders above the other candidates as far as qualifications go. He has a PHD and a MDiv from Yale, and his bachelors is from Harvard. One of the other candidates studied theology at Oral Roberts!!!! The other two have nothing more than a bare MDiv.

    1. We certainly have a great slate of candidates, with a variety of experiences. It is accurate to note that Fr. Summer has advanced degrees, as one might expect of the principal of a theological college.

      As to Oral Roberts, I know Fr. Michie well and I can’t hold it against him that he started out in a different tradition (full disclosure: I started out Southern Baptist, but I too seem to have become a real Episcopalian!).

      I must respectfully push back on your “nothing more than a bare MDiv” comment. Some of the best parish priests and potential bishops I know could be described that way. Many priests who are busy serving some of the few rapidly growing parishes in the church have neither the time nor the need to give into the push for everyone on the planet to have a doctorate in their field. I’ve known great priests with DMins, and priests who were so desperate for extra approval that they completed a DMin just so they could plaster “Rev Dr” on every flat surface in the church. Of course, if only PhDs could be bishops, the church would have shorter ballots all around.

      In short order, there should be more information on our candidates posted on our website, which I hope everyone will enjoy reading. Please keep Dallas in your prayers as we choose a bishop from among four excellent and well-qualified priests. Thanks.

      1. I should have said “academic qualifications” rather than “qualifications”- of course degrees are . I have spent most of my life in academia in one way or another. Both of my parents have three degrees, my mother had two Masters, and my father has a PhD. It’s natural that I would prefer a bishop with a doctorate. To me authority figures should have more education than I do.

        I am inclined to think that bishops with a advanced degrees will be more likely to make decisions for well grounded theological reasons, and not because they’re concerned with church growth or other temporal measurements of success. That said, there are not only many excellent priests without doctorates, there are many excellent priests who have taken alternative routes into ministry and do not have even a masters level theology degree. All priests are equally eligible for a bishopric, we have no more “canon 9” second class priests in TEC. Some mass priests would doubtless make better bishops then some teaching theologians- a great deal depends on the context. However, I would argue that the Diocese of Dallas, which has within its boundaries SMU (which has a large Anglican Studies program), UNT, and Dallas University, ought to have an academic as bishop. Of course, I’m not the one making the decision, and doubtless other considerations also come into play.

        I do admit that I consider Oral Roberts U to be something of a resume-killer, not because it’s not an Episcopal seminary, but because it has been plagued by scandals since its founding, which was scandalous in and of itself, in that IIRC the Rev. Oral Roberts claimed that God would “take him home” if his followers did not give him enough money to found a university.

        I should add that while I am currently living just outside of Columbus Ohio, I was born in Irving, Tx, and still have family there, and am very interested in the goings on in my hometown and its neighbors in the Metroplex.

        1. Whit,

          Thanks for taking the time to put a fine point on your comments. Preferring an academic bishop is certainly a valid opinion. It will be interesting to see how the diocese discerns among these four candidates. Please keep your home diocese in your prayers. I hope you’ll be back to worship with us soon.

  10. Joan Haskell says:

    The slate of choices for the new Bishop of Dallas was passed on to me and I wanted to write you because Leigh and Susalee Spruill were at St. Mark’s in Jacksonville, FL and very dear to my heart. In fact, I heard him preach in Birmingham, AL when I was visiting and found myself tearing up. The woman sitting next to me leaned over and said, “he is going to be the next John Claypool.” So, I wrote his name down and gave it to the Vestry at St. Mark’s who was in the search process for a rector and he was chosen.

    I cannot say enough good things about both Leigh and Susalee. They are both wonderful people, have a great marriage and he would make a very special bishop. Actually, I wish we could have him!!

    I believe God gave him an escape to Nashville as our Diocese in Florida was about to have a split with the Anglican church forming.

    He and Susalee have had their tragedies. When they were in Jacksonville, Susalee’s step father, whom she adored, died in a plane crash. Then when Leigh and Susalee had gone to St. Georges, Lee’s older brother who was his best friend, suddenly died of a heart attack. I have not seen them in a long time but I can tell you that both of those experiences change people and they look at life differently.

    He would be a great bishop! Good luck to all of you and God bless you. I will keep you in my prayers,

    Joan Haskell
    904-384-6288 (h)
    904-705-6288 (c)

  11. Richard McClellan says:

    Attacking a priest is really low. These men do not owe any of us an apology. You wanna complain, take it up with the committee who selected them. God’s blessings upon whomever is chosen to lead the flock in the Diocese of Dallas.

  12. Len Bourland says:

    Well we’ve had a woman at the helm as Presiding and I don’t think that’s worked out so well (and I am female.) Lee Spruell is a dynamic rector in Nashville at St. George’s. Friends and former Vanderbilt classmates cannot say enough about his preaching and pastoring. Imagine a Dallas bishop who can preach as well as administrate. He’s got my vote.

    1. John Putnam says:

      Len, you should be ashamed of yourself for asserting that our Presiding Bishops downfall is because she is a woman. I’m not a fan of Schori either, but her sex has nothing to do with it.

      As for the diversity issue, I don’t care if the Bishop of EDOD is a white guy (I’m a white guy after all). The disheartening thing about these candidates is that Dallas may not have a Bishop open to having talks about LGBT inclusion for another 25 years. Right now there is no effort to include LGBT people in the sacramental life of the church in Dallas, and it’s very disheartening that the diocese I grew up in has made no effort to extend the grace of Christ to an oppressed minority group.

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