Written by Selby Ewing and Kristen C. Caldwell
Day two of Western Jurisdictional Conference in Salt Lake City brought eight ballots, introduced us to a few pieces of legislation and gave us time to honor the departed in our beloved WJ connection. Yet no new episcopal elections to announce. Here’s a recap of Day 2 (Nov. 3):
Executive session held
After eight ballots cast as of mid-afternoon, delegates were nowhere close to electing new bishops. First-elected delegates from each of the conferences met with the College of Bishops in a private session. After breaking from meeting back into the plenary session, delegates and the College decided to hold an executive session with delegates and certified episcopal candidates.
The executive session ended just before dinner and it is expected there will be an announcement about the discussion made during the first plenary session Friday (tomorrow) morning,
More episcopal candidates gracefully withdraw
Before voting on the first ballot of the day, Ballot 3, Rev. Siosaia Fonua Tu’itahi of the California-Pacific Conference withdrew his candidacy, and he will continue his discernment process in the future.
“I hope there will be others with names we struggle to pronounce that will come after me,” he said.
After the sixth ballot, Rev. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan of the California-Nevada Conference and current president of Claremont School of Theology, withdrew his candidacy.
“It has been a deep, deep privilege to walk with you during the past several months,” Kuan said. “Thank you for this journey. After deep discernment, I know it is time now to withdraw my name and let the process continue.”
A two-thirds majority is required for a bishop to be elected.
As of the eighth ballot, Rev. Carlo Rapanut of the Pacific Northwest Conference had 45 votes, Rev. Cedrick Bridgeforth of the Cal-Pac Conference had 39 as did Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank of the Desert Southwest Conference. Rev. Sandra Olewine of the Cal-Pac Conference collected 32 votes, Rev. Kimberly Montenegro of the Cal-Nev Conference collected 30. Rev. Anthony Tang of DSC had 21 as did Rev. Jessica Rooks of the Mountain Sky Conference. Rev. Joe Kim of the PNW Conference collected 18 votes, Rev. Tom Choi of Cal-Pac collected 14. Rev. Calvin Hill of Mtn. Sky had gathered 11 votes, Rev. Staci Current of Cal-Nev had 8 votes. Rev. Mark Calhoun of Mtn. Sky collected 4 votes, Rev. Piula Alailima of Cal-Pac had 2 and Rev. Elizabeth Tay McVicker had none.
The top three candidates from Ballots 3 to 8 were Bridgeforth, Escobedo-Frank and Rapanut.
Memorial Service honors faithful servants
On Thursday night, bishops, spouses of bishops, and leaders of the Western Jurisdiction who have passed away since the last WJ gathering in 2016 were memorialized. They were remembered with candlelight, songs, prayers, scripture and words of love and admiration.
“They are family to us. They have prepared the way that brought us to this gathering, to this night,” said Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area. “Their stories help us know how we got here, and they give us courage to step into our own future in faith.”
Stanovsky shared stories of bishops and bishops’ spouses and their legacies of love, inclusion, laughter, jewelry-making, singing, helping with a church building project or being social justice advocates.
Those honored in the Memorial Service included Bishop Wilbur Wong Yan Choy; Bishop Beverly J. Shamana; Lucile Wheatley, spouse of Bishop Melvin Wheatley; Jeffrey Joe Swenson, spouse of Bishop Swenson; Marjorie Beadles Tuell, spouse of Bishop Jack Tuell; Rev. John Satterlee Lewis; Rev. Robert “Bob” Irving Phelps; Ben Sarracino; Rev. Carol Thompson; Rev. Gil Caldwell; Noriko Lao; Derrick Rainbow; Rev. J. Michael Pearson; Rev. Myron Wingfield; Rev. Dr. Chuck Schuster and Rev. Dr. Melvin M. Finkbeiner.
Stanovsky described these individuals as people no mightier than others. But they took risks.
“They challenged the system … and at times they wondered if it was worth it,” she said. “In Christ they found sustaining grace.”