The Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania on Saturday elected Canon Audrey Scanlan their next diocesan bishop. Well done them!
Her election made me start looking into statistics about episcopal elections. Here’s what I found.
- Canon Scanlan is the first woman elected a diocesan bishop in the Episcopal Church since 2011.
- In those four years, there have been 17 other elections for diocesan bishop, which have all elected a man. (This count may be slightly off, as the list I’m using is the super-helpful Wikipedia page “Succession of American Episcopal Bishops,” which lists by consecration date, not date of election.)
- In that time, there have been women elected as bishops, but they are suffragen bishops.
- By my count, Canon Scanlan will be the fourth female diocesan bishop currently serving in one of the church’s 100+ dioceses. (I count El Camino Real, Indianapolis, and Washington as dioceses with elected women diocesans.)
- To my knowledge, there is no great difference in the number of men and women being ordained or in the number of male and female priests that would explain such a huge discrepancy in the House of Bishops.
Diocesan bishops are the one who chair important committees, exercise consent over the election of new bishops, and generally set a tone for the way the church goes. I hope it is painfully obvious how important it is that there be a full complement of women in their ranks.
Canon Scanlan is highly regarded and, by all accounts, the diocese made an excellent choice. But, guys, we’ve got a long way to go.