Episcopal elections

A bishop is the elected spiritual leader of a diocese.

Only pastors can be elected bishop, but there is no enquiry into the doctrinal orthodoxy of candidates for episcopal office: it is for the diocesan electors to assess the candidates’ suitability.

Candidates are nominated in advance by electors’ associations, which must be established with the consent and on behalf of the pastor whom they wish to nominate. These associations must have at least ten members who are entitled to vote in the election. Candidacies are then confirmed by the diocesan chapter, which also acts as the electoral commission.

Episcopal elections take place in two stages. If no candidate receives more than half the votes in the first round, a second round is held, contested by the two leading candidates. If the vote is tied, the election is decided by lot.

Who chooses the bishop?

The following can vote in episcopal elections:

  • The pastors of the diocese.
  • Lay electors elected by parish councils and boards. Every parish has at least one elector, with additional electors according to population. Every diocese has as many lay electors as it has pastors.
  • The diocese’s elected lay members of the General Synod.
  • The legal assessor and a lay member of the diocesan chapter.
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