The Most Reverend Melissa Skelton
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Greetings, People of the Diocese of New Westminster


When I first became the Bishop of the Diocese, I reminded all of you that, on account of Provincial Canons specifying that bishops must retire by age 70, I would have seven years to serve as your bishop. I turn 70 years of age in mid-March of 2021, and with a mixture of sadness about leaving as well as excitement for the future of this Diocese, I inform you that I am calling for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor for the Diocese of New Westminster on October 3, 2020.

As a reminder: delegates to the Electoral Synod are those members of parishes who were elected Delegates to Synod at the 2020 Parish Vestry Meetings.

Some important information about this election:

  • First, by way of an explanation, a bishop coadjutor is a bishop who will take on the role of diocesan bishop upon the retirement of the current bishop. Our diocese has actually elected a bishop coadjutor before: Douglas Hambidge and David Somerville were both elected as bishops coadjutor, before becoming diocesan bishop.
  • Second, by way of rationale, electing a bishop coadjutor allows for an orderly transition between myself and the next bishop of the diocese. It avoids a period of time without a bishop (something that I don’t think is advisable in times such as ours). Additionally, electing a bishop coadjutor also provides for a brief period of overlap between myself and the next bishop, allowing a needed time of orientation and learning before that person becomes the diocesan.
  • Finally, in accordance with our diocesan Canons, Diocesan Council has considered my request, discussed it and affirmed its support for the election of a bishop coadjutor in a motion at the last in-person meeting of Council.

With these things said, here are the key events and dates related to the Bishop Coadjutor election, consecration and seating:

  • Electoral Synod to elect the Bishop Coadjutor: October 3, 2020
  • Consecration of the Bishop Coadjutor: January 23, 2021
  • Retirement of Current Archbishop and Seating of New Diocesan Bishop: February 28, 2021


And here is a description of an important next step as well as information about the Episcopal Election Committee.

For us to proceed along the timing referenced above, Diocesan Council will name a Nominations Committee for the Episcopal Elections Committee at its April 29, 2020 meeting. The Episcopal Elections Committee will be appointed by Diocesan Council on May 20.

  • According to our Canons the Episcopal Election Committee “shall consist of eleven members: (i) A Chair, either lay or ordained, chosen by the Diocesan Council; (ii) Five clergy, drawn from the canonically resident bishops, priests and deacons of the Diocese, and (iii) Five lay members who are qualified to be members of their Parish Vestry pursuant to Canon 9 or Canon 10 and have been so for at least two years. The membership of the Committee shall reflect the diversity of the Diocese with particular attention to: (i) gender identity, (ii) age, (iii) ethnic and cultural identity, and (iv) theological perspectives. The members of the Committee shall be drawn from all the regional archdeaconries of the Diocese.
  • The Election Committee “shall be responsible for establishing an electoral process that is: (i) transparent, (ii) fair, (iii) accountable, (iv) committed to discernment and (v) guided by a pastoral concern for the nominees. (e) The Committee shall determine how electronic and social technology is to be used in the electoral process.The Election Committee “will receive the nominations of persons eligible for the office of Diocesan Bishop; (b) oversee the process of vetting the qualifications of those persons nominated for the Office of Diocesan Bishop; (c) plan and execute a fair and transparent process by means of which qualified nominees are presented to the members of the Electoral Synod for their review; and (d) ensure that all necessary information regarding the nominees is available to the members of the Electoral Synod no less than fourteen days before the date of said Synod.”

I realize that this announcement and all this information may be a great deal to absorb, especially during this time of COVID-19. What I want to assure you of is that we are up to completing all the work that is needed to prepare ourselves for a new bishop. I also want to assure you that this process and all the people involved in it are in my prayers as we go forward


With gratitude for all of you,

In Christ,

+Melissa