Dear Editor – The Church of Melanesia is gearing up for elections to fill the episcopal positions left vacant by Archbishop David Vunagi and the Bishop Richard Naramana of Ysabel diocese.
If my information is correct, the Diocese of Ysabel electoral board is going to elect a new bishop for Ysabel on Tuesday the 10th November 2015, while elections for a new Archbishop will be done by the Provincial electoral board, early in 2016.
Procedures for conducting these elections are clearly spelt out in the Church’s Constitution, which is basically conducted under secrecy.
In both cases it is only the electoral board members who make nominations, which means that members of the ACOM do not have any idea regarding the names of those who were nominated.
This is where the difference lies regarding the election of COM leaders in contrast with how national leaders are elected at the polls.
One is shrouded in deep secrecy while the other is heralded by public campaign rallies, however bottom line is Church leaders and politicians are no different because both are positions of power, authority, prestige and lucrative remuneration packages.
Moreover, in Solomon Islands context, church leaders and political leaders could be seen ‘rubbing shoulders’ on important civic or religious occasions.
Bishops in Church of Melanesia are regarded with high esteem even by their local politicians. This could be the reason why even before elections, people already hear rumours about ambitious priests enlisting their names for nomination.
Who knows, maybe the list of potential candidates for the position of Archbishop of Melanesia will be a bitter battle ground for the current bench of Bishops.
In the case of finding a new bishop for Ysabel, the names of about seven Ysabel priests have already circulated via the ‘coconut network’.
Let’s hope that when the result come through, Ysabel diocese the so-called stronghold of Anglican adherence in the Church of Melanesia, does not fall prey to further ‘breakaway groups’, such as ECOSI, and Orthodox.