Thursday, April 20, 2006

Sitting with the Standing Committee 

I walked into the conference room at the Diocesan Office to meet with the Standing Committee and was greeted by mostly familiar faces, and all friendly. (You know, in seminary, horror stories abound about Standing Committees and COMs alike.) The chair just sighed and said, "Oh, we have to talk to you now?" Then we all laughed and I was introduced to the two members I did not know. The questions they asked were actually engaging, caused me to think a little, and were fun to answer. Questions like, "What do you think your spiritual gifts are," "What is your vision for the church," "What is your growing edge, or where is God pushing you," and "What about the process has been helpful or unhelpful?" That last one was a great question because it gave me a platform with influential folks to say our diocese needs to develop a way for young people in college to approach the ordination process cause I basically had to fly it by the seat of my pants. At the end of it all, I was passed and they all wished me God's blessing and said they look forward to my ordination. It was neat.

Back in the Office of the Dude in Charge of Seminarians (I think it's actually called the Office for Ministry Development, but I like my title better) I was benignly admonished that I should really be addressing my ember day letters more formally - i.e. "Dear Bishop Lipscomb", instead of my current practice, "Dear Bishop John". Now, I know Bishop John and we've interacted for a long time on a fairly regular basis. I feel comfortable calling him "John", or "Bishop John". But I guess I'll follow the admonishment - righteousness for righteousness' sake. It's funny though, because when I first came to seminary I was very formal with professors, calling them "Dr. Meyers," or "Prof. Adam," or "Fr. Dally," or "Dean Lemler." But, they pretty much beat that out of me so that now we are all on first name bases. From college, I was used to calling professors by the honorific + last name (except in the theater department, where that was frowned upon - first names only there). I got to seminary and it was a culture switch. Now, I've navigated that switch successfully, and the Dude in Charge of Seminarians says start using honorifics + last names again. I guess I'll do that - for a time. But when I get to know someone, I don't like to be so stuffy and formal all the time. I never want my friends to call me "Fr. Whitley", and I'm not even sure how I feel about that with future parishioners! In any event, that's just a minor thing, really.



You know, your Dude is sounding a bit officious to me.

I always addressed my Ember Day letters simply "Dear Ed," as that was how he introduced himself to me initially, years ago. And no one ever seemed to mind, least of all my bishop.

You might ask your bishop his preference in the matter, before you unexpectedly get more formal and possibly leave the man wondering what he did to offend you.

By Blogger Jane Ellen+, at 11:37 AM  

I'm with both of y'all here. My bishop goes by Bishop Gibbs, but he made his preference very clear from the day he got here. The previous bishop was Stew, or Bp Stew... but really mostly Stew. Just because he is a bishop doesn't mean he believes in the formal address.

Of course.. you could just switch to "your Grace"...

By Blogger Susie, at 12:35 PM  

I prefer Ted Tripp's address of the bishop: his purpleness

By Anonymous Trevor, at 12:44 PM  

I did address my ember letters to the bishop as "your grace," and received a letter asking me to stick with "Dear Bishop Louttit." What's an Anglo-Catholic to do?

By Blogger St Michael's Episcopal Church, at 8:50 PM  

I'm late on this one -- I usually am -- But I would like to point out that jane ellen is right (as usual), ask the good bishop how he prefers to be addressed.

I would also like to point out that, although your title for the Office for Ministry Development (Dude in Charge of Seminarians) may be better, it has a rather .... um .... less-than-satisfactory acronym. But then ... maybe you meant it that way.

Peace, Dude ;)
and many congratulations.

By Blogger Reverend Ref +, at 7:50 PM  

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