By Martin Loring, Chair, 11th Bishop of Oregon Search Committee
The 11th Bishop of Oregon Search Committee Survey closed August 31. It provides valuable information for building the profile and screening for a strong slate of nominees to meet the needs of our diocese, now and in the future.
The first thing I would like to say on behalf of the Search Committee is “Thank you.” That 495 people took the time to respond in this day and age, with so many other things competing for time, is impressive. It is also gratifying to note that surveys have been received from every single congregation of the diocese plus some people who identify with the diocese in other ways.
Survey results will be published in detail, but this will take some time. What is available now is descriptive data about who responded, and summary data on responses to a few key questions.
A Couple of Caveats
The first has to do with what the responses mean: since the people who responded self-selected, the sample is not random. Thus, it represents the opinions of those who responded, which may not be representative of the diocese as a whole. Nevertheless, the insights provided are interesting and valuable.
The final caveat is that while 495 people responded, only 482 responses have been entered for analysis at this time. The other thirteen are paper surveys, which were just received and are being entered for analysis.
Summary Demographic Statistics
- Survey respondents overwhelmingly identified as white (96.1%) with 1.7% identifying as Native American, 1.1% Latinx, and 0.2% Black.
- Respondents were mostly female (67.9%), followed by male (28.5%), with 3.6% identifying as non-binary or choosing not to respond.
- Respondents tended to be of rather advanced age. In decreasing order of frequency, 34.6% of were 65-75 years of age; 22.6% were 56-65; 18% were 75+; 12.4% were 46-55; 5.9% were 36-45; 3.6% were 26-35; 1.3% were 25 or younger; and 1.7% preferred not to respond.
- When asked if respondents identify as LGBTQ, 82.4% responded “no,” 12.5% responded “yes,” and 5.1% preferred not to respond.
One Word Descriptors
The questions asking for one-word characterizations of Oregon, the diocese, and our congregations provoked interesting and varied responses. Likewise for questions about the three strengths and three challenges of the diocese, what is most important for people considering a call to know about us, and a vision of the diocese in five years. These data are being analyzed, and results will be reported as soon as they are available.
Qualities of a Bishop
Summary statistics are available for two important survey questions asking people to chose the most and least important qualities to look for in a new bishop. To the question, What five qualities…are most important in the new Bishop of Oregon?, a wide variety of responses was received; but there was also substantial agreement. Two qualities were supported by more than half of respondents and four by more than a third. These top six, “most important qualities” are as follows:
|Social and Political Activist||43.7%|
Similar, but slightly lower, levels of agreement were found in answers to the question, What three qualities…are least important in the new Bishop of Oregon? Only one quality received majority support, but another four were selected by from 22% to 38% or respondents, as follows:
|Social and Political Activist||37.6%|
|Experience at the Diocesan and National Levels||36.1%|
Interestingly, one quality appears on both lists. For Episcopalians responding to these survey questions, social activism is both the third most important, and second least important, quality needed in a new bishop. This means that social activism may be a polarizing issue within the diocese. It certainly is deserving of additional through, prayer, and discussion.
There is one more thing about the survey worthy of mention. The final question asked if you wanted to speak with a member of the Search Committee. Fifty three respondents (11%) said, “yes” and provided contact information. We have completed most, but not all of the call backs. These lead to many good and informative conversations, the results of which are being compiled for the survey report.
Again, the 11th Bishop Search Committee owes a debt of gratitude to the many members of the clergy and laity who took the time to provide us with this valuable information. Thanks again. As the process continues, please feel free to contact us at any time with additional questions, comments or concerns.