As reported in Taonga, the synod of the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki have agreed to a nomination for consideration by our wider church for confirmation as bishop to succeed the recently departed for Rome, but not that kind of departure!, ++David Moxon.*
I have spent much of my life in the Anglican church of these particular Down Under islands, and the process of confirmation, via the house of bishops first and then by all the members of General Synod, has been explained to me (as I have then explained to others) in terms of 'a bishop is a bishop for the whole church so the whole church gets a say in who will be bishop.'
That seems so eminently sensible to me, as well as in line with the practice of other Anglican churches, that I have taken it as 'the Anglican' doctrine of bishoping.
But this weekend we had as a guest contributor to the theology of marriage conference, Bishop Tim Harris, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Adelaide, Australia. It was great to catch up with Tim. One of the topics our conversation covered was the recent election in the Diocese of Sydney. Through that conversation I learned that the Australian Anglican system of choosing bishops is quite different to ours (as we saw, in fact, when +Glenn Davies was elected: there and then the Sydney synod announced to the world that they had chosen their new archbishop, end of story).
Now the Australian church is not only different to ours, but, arguably to many if not all others: how many Anglican churches around the world, for instance, make decisions at General Synod (or equivalent) which are only binding on a diocese if the diocese agrees to the decision?
But, my reflection here is not generally on such differences, but on the notion 'who is a bishop for?' Is a bishop a bishop of the whole church (what does that mean, in any case?)? If so, should the whole church have a say in who their bishops will be? If not, could a bishop be a bishop only within a smaller part of the church than the whole church? (An analogy with 'local shared ministers' springs to mind!)
Back to the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki. That diocese has two clearly distinct geographical areas within it (i.e. two different rugby teams, actually three, 'cause there is the King Country team as well!). Each bishop concentrates attention on their own geographic area but both bishops lead the whole diocese. One hopes they get along well together!
*For those who do not know, Archbishop David Moxon left his episcopal work in NZ to take up the role of Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.