The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Southern Ohio announced today that they have nominated the Rt. Rev. Wayne Smith to serve as provisional bishop in Southern Ohio beginning August 15. An act of the Diocesan Convention is required before Smith can take office as the Ecclesiastical Authority of the diocese. The Standing Committee plans to call for a special session of the 146th Convention on Saturday, July 17, 2021 for the purpose of this action.
Below is the text of a letter sent June 8, 2021 to notify the diocese of its decision.
Dear friends in Christ,
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
In our last communication, we shared summaries of the data and perspectives we have gathered from our diocese. The shortest way to summarize what we learned is that while the Diocese of Southern Ohio has a great deal to celebrate, we also have some work to do before we are ready to begin the search for our next diocesan bishop. We will soon share benchmarks the we have developed to help us know when we believe our diocese is ready for this work.
For now, we believe that our diocese will benefit from the leadership of a provisional bishop. A provisional bishop has the same ecclesiastical authority and status as a diocesan bishop but serves for a time-limited period. For those of you who know about parishes, a diocesan bishop is like a rector, while a provisional bishop is like a priest-in-charge.
For our diocese to call a provisional bishop, three things must happen. The Standing Committee must identify a bishop who has the necessary qualifications and skills. Then the Standing Committee must consult with the Presiding Bishop’s office on the choice. Finally, the Diocesan Convention must act on the selection.
We are pleased to say that after conversations with several bishops, we have identified a superb leader to serve in our diocese. We are recommending that the convention act on the nomination of the Right Reverend Wayne Smith as our provisional bishop. Bishop Smith most recently served as Bishop of Missouri from 2002 to 2020.
Born in Abilene, Texas, Smith grew up in Tuscola, a small town in the nearby farm and ranch country. He studied at Baylor University (BA and MA), Nashotah House (MDiv), and Sewanee (DMin) and was ordained deacon and priest in the Diocese of Northwest Texas. Beginning his parish ministry there, he also served in Western Michigan and Iowa. After thirteen years as rector of St. Andrew’s, Des Moines, Smith was elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Missouri in 2001 and ordained bishop in 2002. Later that year he was seated as the Tenth Bishop of the Diocese, where he served until 2020.
He and his spouse Debra Morris Smith, married for forty-four years, live in St. Louis. They have three adult children, all married, and three grandchildren. Smith has served the wider Church on various boards and commissions and has chaired legislative committees for the General Convention. For rest and recreation Smith likes to read, walk, bake bread, collect vintage fountain pens, and FaceTime with children and grandchildren. The Smith household includes an aging cat, Dora, and a Kerry Blue Terrier, Molly. Bishop Smith will, of course, live in our diocese during his time as provisional bishop.
You will be able to meet Bishop Smith when he comes to our diocese for a meet-and-greet opportunity at the Procter Center on July 10. This event will be live streamed and recorded for those who cannot attend in person. Watch for more details on this event to come.
Later this week, you will receive a formal call for an online special session of the 146th Diocesan Convention to be held on Saturday, July 17. That notice will have all the details of the special session, including who votes and how to participate.
Pending action by Diocesan Convention, Bishop Smith will begin on August 15, 2021. On that date, Bishop Smith will become the Ecclesiastical Authority and we on the Standing Committee will return to our role as a council of advice for the bishop.
Bishop Smith has spoken with Bishops Gibbs, Price, and Rivera, and they will continue to serve as assisting bishops. In this capacity, they will be able to join Bishop Smith in making visitations, doing confirmations, and providing pastoral care as bishops.
We are thrilled with this outcome. Our diocese is at an exciting moment as we build on our strengths and address our opportunities for learning and growth. In due course, once the necessary benchmarks are completed, we will appoint a search committee to begin the process leading to the search, election, and ordination of our next diocesan bishop. For now, our diocese will be in excellent hands with the leadership of Bishop Smith.
Please do not hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or comments.
Almighty and everliving God, source of all wisdom and understanding, be present with those who take counsel the Diocese of Southern Ohio for the renewal and mission of your Church. Teach us in all things to seek first your honor and glory. Guide us to perceive what is right, and grant us both the courage to pursue it and the grace to accomplish it; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Blessings to you. We are,
The Standing Committee
Mr. Larry Hayes, president
The Rev. Philip DeVaul, vice-president
Dr. James Allsop
The Rev. Dr. Ellen Cook
Mr. Barry Feist
The Rev. Canon Scott Gunn