|June 22, 2017
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Standing Committee of The Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee met with Bishop Johnson on June 15, at which time he informed us of his intention to resign as Bishop in 2019. The Rt. Rev. Clay Matthews and his soon-to-be successor, the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, representing the Presiding Bishop/House of Bishops Office of Pastoral Development, joined us by conference call.
As you may know, the Standing Committee is charged, under the Canons of the Diocese, with oversight and responsibility for the search and transition process that will lead to the election and ordination of Bishop Johnson’s successor. We have already begun this most solemn work.
At Bishop Matthews’ recommendation we have contracted with Lynn Schmissrauter, an experienced transition consultant, who is already providing welcome guidance and wise counsel. An active member of The Episcopal Church, Mrs. Schmissrauter has participated in a number of search processes at both the local and diocesan level. The Standing Committee is delighted to welcome her as a partner in our work.
The steps involved with calling and ordaining a new bishop for our diocese are many and will require considerable prayer, care, and effort in the months ahead. We will be meeting with our consultant on June 29 to continue our planning regarding the appointment of committees, the development of a realistic and responsible timeline, and other necessary first steps.
In the weeks to come the Standing Committee will share with you in greater detail the process that we will follow. Our goals include maintaining good communication with you and assuring you that the transition is clear and well-organized.
At our meeting on June 15, the Standing Committee’s president, the Rev. Jack Rogers, noted that he would be completing his term in November of this year. He recommended, and the Standing Committee agreed, that as the next senior clergy member of the committee, I should immediately assume the responsibilities of president to assure continuity of leadership for the duration of the search and transition process. All of us on the Committee welcome your prayerful support as we work to fulfill our responsibility during this time of search and transition.
Finally, I want to acknowledge and celebrate Bishop Johnson’s dedicated service and gracious leadership for the last sixteen years. His faithfulness to God and his care for all of us in West Tennessee have been a source of both strength and inspiration. I know that all of us are grateful for his continuing ministry until his retirement. I also encourage all of us to keep Bishop Don and his wife Jeannie in our prayers during their time of transition.
Yours in Christ’s love,
The Rev. Gary Meade
President, the Standing Committee of The Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee
The Standing Committee:
The Rev. Dorothy Wells
Mrs. Martha Webb
The Rev. Gary Meade
Mrs. Stephanie Cheney
The Rev. Dn. Dr. Randy McCloy
Mr. Jim McGehee
The Rev. Jack Rogers
Dr. Bill Falvey