The structure of the organization is Episcopal, but in a modified form. While the leadership comes from the bishop's office, vision, policies, and practices result from extensive discussions with the administrative team, the clergy as a whole and various lay boards, committees and councils. The bishop and his delegates oversee the clergy and congregations to provide for systematic worship and instruction for people of all ages. He is also responsible for overseeing the organization's business affairs; however, lay boards and members of the administration provide the expertise and practical experience to ensure that the functions of the church are well supported and developed.
New bishops are selected and nominated by the clergy, affirmed by the Board, then affirmed by the membership of the General Church. They usually serve approximately ten years in office.
The Executive Bishop and the Assistant Bishops visit congregations around the world to provide guidance and support.
The Rt. Rev. Peter M. Buss Jr. is the current Executive Bishop of the General Church (as of July 1, 2019). The position of Executive Bishop serves to coordinate the uses of the priesthood, to provide overall spiritual leadership to the Church around the world, and to stand as Chancellor to the Academy of the New Church, the educational arm of the Church.
He has served as a General Church priest for over 20 years. He previously served as the Assistant to the Bishop of the General Church, and before that was the Pastor of the Glenview New Church and School, and before that was the Assistant to the Pastor in the Washington New Church.
Two Assistant Bishops
Two priests serve in the position of Assistant Bishop of the General Church. They are: The Rt. Rev. David H. Lindrooth, and the Rt. Rev. Bradley D. Heinrichs.
David and Brad serve in split-time capacities. Each oversee a Central Office department (Outreach and Education respectively) and help Pete with the work of the Episcopal office with the balance of their time.
Background information on the Bishops
You are invited to find out more about them by viewing the background information that is provided below.
Vision for the church and philosophy of leadership
Questions from the General Church Board
Sermons, articles, etc.
- A Little While--Sermon
- What Is New Church Education and Why Should We Care - Study
- Timeless Messages in the Word - Study
- The Ball Is In Your Court--Article
- One Lip--What Binds Us Together--Sermon
Recommendations from fellow clergy
Peter has strong pastoral experience, both as an assistant pastor and head pastor of major societies. He has strong experience in administrative positions at the congregational level and at the church-wide level, as an assistant to the executive bishop of the General Church and as overseer of the office of Education. He has lived and travelled outside of North America as well as in North America. He has a background that allows him to understand the many aspects of the complex organization that is the General Church.
Peter has demonstrated a good knowledge of doctrine and ability to organize and articulate this knowledge in effective and inspiring presentations. He presents the doctrines of the Word clearly and in a way that is applicable and in touch with people’s lives.
Peter has a good temperament for a tough job like bishop: energy, strength and interest in leadership. He thinks clearly, responds to people charitably and evenly, maintains a gentle and humble spirit, and projects good will. He listens well, seems respectful of other’s input, and carries through in the decisions he makes. He seems consistently positive and undaunted by the challenges that he is tasked with. As a leader he has faced challenging issues with wisdom and tact.
Peter can provide steady leadership, supporting much of what has been the General Church for decades now, but also has a willingness to consider what might be done differently in the future. This may help support a healthy unity within the General Church.
Peter has formed good friendships with a broad group of lay people surrounding his age. These connections and the conversations that can easily support are a good grounding for a position that could end up being a little removed from that kind of contact. Peter has also been able to form relationships outside of Bryn Athyn through extensive travel to congregations both in North America and abroad.
Peter’s wife, Teresa, has shown a willingness to travel with Peter, which is appreciated by the congregations who are visited. She also has displayed tact and graciousness that has kept her from being identified with a “position” which is valuable given some of the swirling issues of the church today.