From Columbus: Beisner gets committee nod with reservations; five others join House of Bishops

June 16, 2006

Deputy members of the Joint Legislative Committee on Consecration of Bishops on June 16 voted to recommend that the House of Deputies consent to the ordination and consecration of the Rev. Barry Beisner as bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Northern California.

The vote was not unanimous and a minority report will be attached to that recommendation. Matthew Chew, deputy chair of the committee, said the recommendation and the minority report may be filed with the House of Deputies Secretariat as early as Saturday.

Bishop members of the committee did not make a recommendation on Beisner's election, a departure from their earlier approval of the other five bishop nominees considered by the committee at this General Convention. Bishop Chester Talton, suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and bishop chair of the committee, said that only a vote by deputy committee members is required, since the resolution to consent to Beisner's election will go first to the House of Deputies.

When asked why the bishops had offered consent to the other nominees, Talton said, "We clarified for ourselves this morning how this voting really goes. Deputy votes get counted, so we decided to record it that way. When the resolution comes to the House of Bishops, I may be called upon to make a report. If I am, I will."

Questions about Beisner have arisen since his election, focused on the facts surrounding his two divorces and third marriage. Besiner addressed the issue in his testimony before the committee June 14. He said it was not a concern within the diocese when he was elected May 6, but has been raised since by people from outside the Diocese of Northern California. Beisner currently is canon to the ordinary in that diocese.

In a related development, the House of Bishops consented to the election of five bishops June 16. The House welcomed Bishop Marc H. Andrus as bishop-elect of California; the Ven. Dena Harrison as suffragan bishop-elect of Texas; the Very Rev. Canon William H. Love as bishop coadjutor-elect of Albany; the Rev. Steven Todd Ousley as bishop coadjutor-elect of Eastern Michigan and the Rev. David Mitchell Reed as suffragan bishop-elect of West Texas.

The bishops-elect were each welcomed with standing ovations and were given the opportunity to address the house briefly. Andrus, who currently serves as suffragan bishop of Alabama, said, "You have inspired me with…your grace and your love, and I've been honored to serve with you for five years."

Harris thanked the bishops for their "many expressions of support and welcome" and Love said he was "very honored and humbled to be invited to be a member of this house."

Following the introductions, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold invited the bishops-elect to be seated with the house.