Monday, October 17, 2005

Church Hopes for Bishops “of the People”

AP--In an effort to be more responsive to the needs of the people, The United Methodist Church has announced a new format for choosing Bishops, the denomination’s top clergy leaders. Instead of allowing regional bodies known as Jurisdictional Conferences to elect Bishops, the church has signed on with the FOX network to produce a new reality show called Mitre Muster, the United Methodist News Service (UMNS) announced Friday.

Mitre Muster will feature 80 candidates vying for only 20 vacant episcopal seats in the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination. Veteran rocker Mick Jagger and Lutheran scholar Martin Marty have already agreed to judge the event, and negotiations with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher are nearly complete, reported UMNS. The judges will narrow the original contestants down to 30, and viewers will have the opportunity to make a toll-free call to choose the ultimate winners.

The idea for Mitre Muster passed the 2004 General Conference, The United Methodist Church’s highest authority, with minimal resistance. The Council of Bishops released a statement stating that it is “eager for this new process to begin. Mitre Muster will show the nation that United Methodist Bishops are both talented and well rounded.” Contestants on the show will participate in three phases: talent show, theological reflection and swimsuit competition. “It will give us Bishops that much-needed opportunity to shine,” said Bishop Edgar Rowdy of the Great Lakes Area. “I wish this was around when I was elected. I’ve got an awesome liturgical dance based on Tertullian’s “Against Praxeas.”

Should the new television show prove successful, the church has other projects in the pre-production stage. In particular, the Methodists are working on a show that puts a new twist on its ordination process, Who Wants to Preach a Sermon? Church officials have set a target of Fall 2006 for the Mitre Muster’s debut.


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