On the home page of its new website, IAmEpiscopalian.com, the Episcopal Church states “our governance is transparent.”
And in many dioceses there is a commitment to transparent governance. But in a handful of dioceses, the democratically-elected governing councils — known as standing committees — have decided to conceal a key vote from the people of their own diocese.
The standing committee of Lexington isn’t telling the people in the pews how they voted on the bishop-elect of Northern Michigan. In South Dakota, Episcopalians who sought information about their own standing committee’s vote have been rebuffed.
In Southern Virginia, where a large parish urged its standing committee to vote a particular way, the outcome of the vote has also been withheld from rank and file Episcopalians.
One state over, the standing committee of Western North Carolina is keeping Carolinians in the dark about this decision.
Most dioceses, 77 by my count, have already revealed their votes. Most of the remaining 33 dioceses are still in the discernment process. Many of them have already committed to announce the results of their votes once the votes take place.
If these votes were taking place at General Convention, they would take place in public and they’d be broadcast to the entire world. There would be no secrecy and no mystery.
How does the decision to withhold the results of the vote from the people of a diocese square with the church’s publicly stated commitment to “transparent governance.”
And why is it in a diocese’s best interests to prevent its own members from knowing how they have voted?
If you’ve got an explanation for why a standing committee would withhold its decision from the Episcopalians who live and worship in the diocese, please post it below.