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News & Stories
January 31, 2023

Discernment Forum Recordings Available Online

Three Discernment Forums were hosted January 27 - 29 in Harlingen, Corpus Christi, and San Antonio, allowing the Rev. Ripp Hardaway, the Rev. Alex Montes-Vela, and the Rev. Dr. David G. Read, nominees for Bishop Coadjutor, to answer questions from the diocese. All in-person forums were accessible by live-stream and are available to view online now. Click here to share all three Discernment Forum videos as well as other video messages from the nominees and Standing Committee.

The Rt. Rev. David Reed, Bishop of West Texas, opened each Discernment Forum in prayer, followed by the Rev. Dr. Ben Nelson, President of the Standing Committee, explaining the evening format and inviting all three nominees to introduce themselves briefly. Then each nominee was given thirty minutes to address the gathering on their own, answering four questions selected specifically for that evening from those submitted by the diocese and the same concluding question, "What else is important for us to know about you and your ministry?". This "bonus question" allowed them to expand on an earlier answer or share additional information about themselves and their discernment process. The forum concluded with a sending prayer from the Rt. Rev. Rayford High, Assistant Bishop of West Texas and a brief reception.

Throughout the Council 2023 gathering,  assembled delegates, alternates, clergy, visiting bishops, and guests will lift up the election in prayer. Then on Saturday, February 18, the clergy and lay delegates of the 119th Council of the Diocese of West Texas will elect the next Bishop Coadjutor of West Texas following a service of Morning Prayer, led by Bishop High with a homily from Bishop Reed. All members of the Diocese are invited to join Council in prayer and participate online through the live broadcast streamed on Facebook, Vimeo, and the diocesan website. More information about the Council agenda is available online, at

The consecration service will take place July 8 in All Saints' Chapel of TMI Episcopal, led by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. All are invited to attend this joyous celebration and historic milestone for the Diocese of West Texas in person. Please continue to keep the nominees and their families in your daily prayers.

Questions about the discernment or election process may be directed to the Standing Committee, at

Meet the Nominees: The Standing Committee published a Meet the Nominees booklet in December 2022, including a brief statement from each nominee, selections from their profile with the Office of Transition Ministry of The Episcopal Church, video greetings from the nominee, and links to sermons they have selected as examples of their preaching. Click here to read it online.

On Friday, January 27, St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Harlingen hosted the first Discernment Forum. The Rev. Alex Montes-Vela, the Rev. Dr. David G. Read, and the Rev. Ripp Hardaway answered the following questions.

  • (Introduction Question) Who was a significant influence in your faith formation as a child or teenager? Who has been a significant influence in your understanding and practice of priesthood?
  • Acknowledging that the church is changing, how do you envision leading our diocese into the future? Where do we need to be pallbearers (celebrating and burying what has been) and where do we need to be midwives (help birth something new)? How do you envision working with congregations that are averse to change or looking to change too quickly?
  • What does a healthy relationship between a Diocesan Bishop and the clergy look like?
  • As Bishop, what would your strategies be to raise up and bring more female priests and more racially and culturally diverse priests into the Diocese?
  • With 287 miles between our southernmost congregation and the diocesan offices, it sometimes feels to those in the Valley as though they are disconnected from, or even less valued members of, the diocese. As Bishop, how might you work toward more meaningful connection and inclusion for those who feel marginalized in our diocesan family?
  • (Bonus Question) What else is important for us to know about you and your ministry?

Bishop Reed, Bishop High, the Standing Committee, and the diocesan staff thank the Rev. John Inserra, Rector; Bennett Holder, Youth Minister & Media Manager; Nancy Newman, Parish Administrator; Christy Garza, Secretary; and all the staff and members of St. Alban's, Harlingen for generously hosting this important event in the life of the diocese.

On Saturday, January 28, the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Corpus Christi hosted the second Discernment Forum. The Rev. Dr. Read, the Rev. Hardaway, and the Rev. Montes-Vela answered the following questions.

  • (Introduction Question) What are you passionate about as a person, as a priest, and as someone who may be elected Bishop of West Texas?
  • Church membership, engagement, and finances were already in decline prior to the pandemic, which seems to have only sped up these trends in many of our churches. If elected Bishop of West Texas, how might you address these discouraging patterns in our diocese? Considering that most of our parishes are smaller, rural congregations with a different set of challenges than churches in larger cities, how might you empower our local faith communities to grow?
  • How might you lead the Diocese of West Texas in a renewal of our Stewardship of Creation?
  • Considering the differing needs across our diocese, what changes do you imagine need to be made regarding bi-vocational priests and the vocational diaconate
  • On the whole, our congregations are much more Anglo than the communities we live in. Utilizing the resources, people, and property that we already have, what are some strategies for ministry with our Latino/Latina neighbors? What are some of the things we may need to give up, change or add in order to minister inclusively with our Latino/Latina neighbors?
  • (Bonus Question) What else is important for us to know about you and your ministry?

Bishop Reed, Bishop High, the Standing Committee, and the diocesan staff thank the Rev. Milton Black, Rector; the Rev. Philip May, Associate Rector; the Rev. William Campbell; Assistant Rector; Betty Murry, Business Administrator and Livestream Manager; Susan Linnane, Parish Secretary; and all the staff and members of Good Shepherd, Corpus Christi for generously hosting this important event in the life of the diocese.

On Sunday, January 29, St. Thomas Episcopal Church & School in San Antonio hosted the third and final Discernment Forum. The Rev. Hardaway, the Rev. Montes-Vela, and the Rev. Dr. Read answered the following questions.

  • (Introduction Question) Describe a time of failure in your ministry. What was a significant learning from that?
  • How do you understand the role of a Diocesan Bishop? What differences do you discern between this role and the role you currently have? What similarities? How has the pandemic changed your understanding of parish ministry? What might you carry forward from these learnings if elected Bishop?
  • Considering the national and local trends of decline in attendance and membership, as Bishop what changes would you implement in how we measure the success and vibrancy of churches and worshipping communities?
  • If elected Bishop, how would you work to address concerns with our current apportionment model?
  • What role do you envision the church playing in working toward healing the racial divides in our communities?
  • (Bonus Question) What else is important for us to know about you and your ministry?

Bishop Reed, Bishop High, the Standing Committee, and the diocesan staff thank the Rev. Mike Michie, Rector; the Rev. Allie Melancon, Assistant Priest; Caleb Pharres, Video Production Manager; Kathleen Stephens, Parish Administrator; Samantha Neumann, Communications Director; and all the staff and members of St. Thomas, San Antonio for generously hosting this important event in the life of the diocese.

The diocesan Communications Office has curated the video recordings included above, in order to make the nominees' answers more readily available to online viewers. The waiting period before the start of each forum as well as the five- to ten-minute "passing periods" in between each nominee have been removed. The original live video recordings from the sanctuary are available on the diocesan Facebook account, and an audio recording of the second room are saved in the Archives of the Diocese of West Texas.

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