RETIREMENT AGE OF BISHOPS OVERSEAS
Applying the Book of Discipline outside of the United States is worse than applying it here. There is also church law done within Central Conferences at different times in different places in response to the culturally sensitive needs that differ from Central Conference to Central Conference as well as differing from American culture.
In this case, apparently a Central Conference “Discipline” from 1990 was used in an attempt to clarify just what is required of aging bishops with regard to retirement. Fortunately, a resolution could be made to questions of law, based on less than specific but adequate church law of related Disciplinary passages. General Conference would be well to sort this out officially. It won’t be simple because of the way some Central Conferences cannot meet until after a particular Discipline has gone into effect, long after most other Central and Jurisdictional Conferences have met under the rules set out in the previous Discipline.
Based on observation, I must warn the Church that views of the nature of the episcopacy vary from one continent to another and between conferences within a continent. The concept of “authoritarian chief” has come to my attention as I’ve had more contact with overseas pastors. I have met leaders from other continents who have been anything but that kind of bishop. I would love to have them teach some of our American bishops how to undertake the task! Nonetheless, clarifying any rules about tenure for bishops overseas will not be simple because of the wide diversity of leadership practices.
For now, bishops not yet 68 at a particular time may remain bishops until their seventy second birthday, after which a different bishop must be assigned to finish out the term. Got it? I’d like to think I have.