Diocesan Profile » Our Search Process

The Diocesan Survey

One of the most important considerations for candidates for our new Bishop is the feelings and attitudes of the people of the Diocese. To access those, we conducted a diocesan-wide survey.

Search image 1

To build the survey, the search committee developed six questions that we believed would give us a good insight into the attitudes and aspirations of our people. We then used focus groups from each of the deaneries to gather and then weigh the responses to those questions. The responses that the focus groups deemed most important went out to the entire Diocese in a survey, available online or by paper. We gathered the survey results as well as individual comments the people of the Diocese submitted.

The clergy submitted 17% of the responses and the laity 83%. Seventeen percent of the responses came from members of missions while 83% came from members of parish congregations. Sixty-six percent came from members of urban churches with 34% from rural churches. Sixty-five percent of the respondents were female and 35% male. Sixty-four percent of the responses came from the two northern deaneries with 36% from the south. The age of the respondents was: 20–40, 4%; 40–60, 25%; 60–80, 65%; and over 80, 6%.

Survey Responses

Where is God calling us?

  • “Recognize Christ’s love for everyone” – 30%
  • “Be active throughout the Diocese” – 21%
  • “Love and serve all our neighbors at all times (to be a Matthew 25 Diocese)” – 16%
  • “Cultivate encourage, empower the younger generation” – 15%
  • “Out of the doors of the church and into the community and the world” – 11%
  • “More fully embrace and embody cultural diversity and geographic context” – 7%

The people of our Diocese believe that God calls us to recognize that Christ loves all of God’s children regardless of their status or condition, and that Christ has called us to love all of our neighbors as we love ourselves. One of our goals is to serve the entire Diocese, not just the areas around the See, or within our own denomination.

What works well in the Diocese?

Search image 2
  • “Friendly, open, helpful people love the Lord and work together” – 31%
  • “Bishop’s involvement/accessibility with our congregations” – 23%
  • “Bishop is personable with pastoral, transparent leadership”– 22%
  • “Poverty and outreach grants provided by the Diocese” – 12%
  • “Bishop’s Ridge, Camp Stoney, Bosque Center and other facilities” – 10%
  • “Diversity of congregations” – 8%

The respondents appreciate the warmth of feeling among the clergy and laity in the Diocese. They also appreciate the openness and warmth of the current Bishop. Our area is low income and there is much work to do. The grants provided by the Diocese and administered by the deaneries are important to our ministry.

What are the greatest needs/challenges in the Diocese?

Search image 3
  • “Attract youth, young and Hispanic families “– 25%
  • “Attract and sustain the quality of clergy” – 19%
  • “Ease the severe financial burdens on the congregations” – 19%
  • “Poverty, hunger, education” – 17%
  • “Half our congregations are too small to survive independently” – 15%
  • “Geographical size and distances” – 13%

The survey responses to this question show a diversity of challenges that concern our parishioners. The increasing lack of youth, young families and ethnically diverse parishioners is a great challenge. Some believe this quest can be solved by attracting and keeping clergy that are trained and equipped to minister to children and youth, and have a willingness to reach out and welcome multicultural families. There are many smaller congregations and mission churches that need help at the Diocesan level, and the 15% fair share is a heavy burden. Poverty, hunger and education are very real issues in our Diocese, as well as all of New Mexico. The large geographical area that comprises our Diocese causes concern, not only in the distance the Bishop has to travel to attend to the flock, but also in connectivity and communication between the Bishop, the clergy, and laity.

What skills/experience should our new Bishop have?

  • “Be grounded in theology and scripture” – 19%
  • “Respect diversity of our congregations and accept us where we are” – 19%
  • “Be a good pastor to the flock” – 17%
  • “Be a visionary and be able to articulate that vision” – 17%
  • “Must minister to and encourage both progressive and conservative clergy and laity” – 12%
  • “Needs experience with small congregations in either rural or urban settings” – 10%
  • “Be a good administrator/manager” – 6%

The parishioners of our Diocese seek a Bishop that is firmly grounded in the Bible, Episcopal theology, and liturgy. The Bishop should be one who is accessible, approachable and gracious in leading the Diocese with respect to our diverse expressions of faithfulness, while honoring our tradition and roots. Our next Bishop should be one who will inspire and be involved with the clergy, lay leadership, and the whole Diocese. We seek someone who has experience in ministering to large and small congregations in urban or rural communities.

What personal attributes should a Bishop have?

Search image 4
  • “Loves Jesus” – 31%
  • “Is a mediator who listens deeply and is able to bridge diversity” – 21%
  • “Thinks outside the box” – 15%
  • “Is a warm compassionate, people person” – 12%
  • “Exhibits a servant’s heart” – 11%
  • “Has a vibrant prayer life” – 10%

The Bishop we seek must be grounded in a prayerful life and be a faithful, loving disciple of Jesus Christ. Our new Bishop should be open to new possibilities and encourage us to do the same. We desire that our next Bishop be a gifted mediator who listens with patience to lead us with a compassionate heart through all diversity. We want a Bishop that will perform the work of the Diocese with a servant’s heart — to seek the will of God and serve with humility and charity.

…Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave to all. For the Son of Man came not be served, but to serve. (Mark 10:43-45a)

What are your hopes and aspirations for our next Bishop?

Search image 5
  • “Understand the emerging church and will lead us forward” – 33%
  • “Grounded in tradition, open to the spirit” – 22%
  • “Pastor to the pastors” – 12%
  • “Strong supporter of missional and innovative endeavors” – 12%
  • “Good communicator” – 11%
  • “Supports youth involvement and programs” – 10%

We are seeking a leader who has a vision of where God is directing us, and has the strength to lead us toward that vision. The new Bishop must be grounded in traditional faith but open to hearing the Holy Spirit as it beckons us. The Bishop has to be able to communicate that vision and support our missions to the needy. Youth and programs for young families are the future of the church and need strong support. The Bishop serves as the pastor for the clergy and has to be able to support them.

Survey Comments

For a fuller understanding of the thoughts behind the survey results, we suggest you read the comments that were received from the survey. View the vote counts for each question and their corresponding responses. We also interviewed Bishop Vono, and you may read a transcript of Bishop Vono's interview.

Who May Be Called

The Standing Committee has charged the Search Committee with presenting the names of three candidates, selected by consensus, who are eligible under Title III Canon 22: Section 1(c) to become the 10th Bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande. We thank you for prayerfully considering if one of these candidates might be you. We ask that you carefully read this Diocesan Profile. If you are interested in exploring a call as Bishop of the Rio Grande, please complete our application process. (Other nominees may come to the Standing Committee by petition. In such case, all nominees will be presented to the Diocese together.)

May we all keep in mind that the Bishop is “called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the church; to celebrate and provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant; to ordain priests and deacons and to join in ordaining bishops; and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 517)

Search process montage

Those eligible to apply include anyone who meets the constitutional requirements of The Episcopal Church in the United States of America. These include:

  • The individual must be at least 30 years of age. The compulsory retirement age for bishops is 72. Suffragan Bishops are eligible nominees; those currently serving as Bishop or Bishop Coadjutor of a Diocese must have served that Diocese for at least five years to be eligible.
  • The Diocese of the Rio Grande seeks to call someone who is 5 to 10 years or more from retirement.
  • All are welcome in our church, and consistent with that value, no candidate shall be excluded “because of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age.” (Title III, Canon 1, Section 2)