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Western Massachusetts bishop to make pilgrimage on foot

ENS Headlines - Monday, May 18, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts] Bishop Douglas Fisher, IX bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, is walking 50 miles through the Berkshires in four days – May 24-27, 2015.  This is his third walk through the diocese.  Bishop Fisher walked the Worcester corridor last October and the Pioneer Valley this past March.  When he reaches the finish line in Sheffield, MA, Bishop Fisher will have walked 170 miles of the sacred ground God has entrusted to his care.

In ancient days bishops walked their territories – staff in hand – as a visible sign of the universal Church embodied in its leader.  The Bishop continues to be that witness of presence and the bridge between local congregations and the larger Church.  Although Bishop Fisher has visited each of the 60 congregations at least once in the past two years, he is setting out on foot to:

  • LISTEN to the experiences and hopes of the people he meets
  • TALK about the Gospel informally
  • PRAY with people where they are – beyond church walls
  • BLESS all who serve the poor, the imprisoned, the sick, the homeless and all who seek his prayers

This pilgrimage will be supported by staff and Episcopal contacts throughout the Berkshire corridor.  Bishop Fisher will walk with members of local congregations who wish to join him along the way but he will walk much of this journey alone.  It is a contemplative endeavor as well as an opportunity for ministry.  His journey will begin and end in Episcopal churches, but all the stops in between reflect his desire to meet people where they are – especially those engaged in the mission of the Gospel.  Visit the pilgrimage page for more information. A highlighted itinerary is available here and local press is welcome to cover Bishop Fisher’s public stops.  Arrival times are flexible as his time each day may vary.  Please contact Victoria Ix to determine his ETA at a particular stop.

Dallas diocese elects George Sumner as next bishop

ENS Headlines - Monday, May 18, 2015

[Episcopal Diocese of Dallas] The Rev. Canon George Sumner was elected May 16 to serve as the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, pending the required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of The Episcopal Church.

Sumner, 60, is currently the principal of Wycliffe College in Toronto, Canada, and was one of four nominees on the ballot for the diocese’s 7th bishop. He received 77 votes from clergy and 107 votes from laity on the fourth ballot during a special convention held at the Episcopal School of Dallas. In order to be elected, a candidate needed to receive a simple majority of votes within both the clergy order and the lay order on the same ballot.

“I am humbled and grateful to God for my election,” Sumner said. “It will be a great privilege to share in the ministry Christ has given us all together in the Diocese of Dallas. I would like to express my appreciation for my fellow candidates and the remarkable transition team. I ask for your prayers and help in the days to come.”

If Sumner receives the majority of consents from the bishops and standing committees of the dioceses in The Episcopal Church, he will be consecrated as bishop on Nov. 14.

Bishop Suffragan Paul E. Lambert has been serving as bishop pro-tem since the Rt. Rev. James Stanton retired May 2014 after serving for 21 years as bishop of Dallas.

Lambert said he is happily anticipating a renewed excitement and energy that a new bishop will bring to the diocese.

“I look forward to working with Bishop-elect Sumner as we move into our next period of transition, the consent process,” Lambert said. “The future of the diocese looks bright and is in good hands.”

The other nominees were the Rev. Mike Michie, the Rev. David Read and the Rev. Leigh Spruill.

Sumner has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College, a Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. in theology from Yale University. He is married to Stephanie and has two children.

Elizabeth G. Maxwell installed as rector of The Church of the Ascension, New York

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 15, 2015

The Rev. Elizabeth G. Maxwell was installed on May13 as the 12th rector of The Church of the Ascension in New York City by the Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

On Wednesday, May 13, 2015, The Rev. Elizabeth G. Maxwell was installed as the 12th Rector of The Church of the Ascension in New York City. She is the first woman Rector since the Manhattan church was founded in 1827. The first church was on Canal Street, but was destroyed by fire. The present site at Fifth Avenue and 10th Street was chosen for a new church designed by Richard Upjohn and consecrated on November 5, 1841.

Mother Liz has lived and worked in Manhattan for 25 years, first as Associate Rector of the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea, including Program Director of the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, and then as Interim Pastor of St. Michael’s Church on the Upper West Side. She is a graduate of Duke University and Princeton Theological Seminary, and was ordained in the Diocese of Newark in 1983, serving there before coming to the Diocese of New York.

The sanctuary was filled as hundreds gathered in the church for her installation by The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. The spirited procession included the vestry, search committee, church staff, clergy friends and colleagues, and the Ascension choir.

During the “induction” section of the service representatives of the congregation and the clergy of the diocese presented Mother Liz with gifts as symbols of Ascension’s ministries including: a Bible from the Sunday School, a vessel of baptismal water from the Bishop, a clerical stole from the acolytes and lectors, pantry food and tutoring books from Ascension Outreach, a book of prayer for spiritual formation, olive oil for healing, a hymnal companion from the choir, a pineapple as a sign of our “juicy” hospitality and fellowship, blueprints for stewardship of our historic buildings, the canons for ministry in the wider church, a book of sacred poetry for interfaith worship, a Canterbury T-shirt for ministry with the higher educational institutions that surround the church, a statue of St. Fiacre for the care of our gardens, bread and wine from the Altar Guild, a tray and cups symbolizing the church’s water table during the Gay Pride march every June, and a key to the “the church of the open door.” Following the Induction Mother Liz was welcomed as the new Rector and was greeted with thunderous and lengthy applause, after which she thanked everyone. She then introduced her family and extended family, offering special thanks to her daughter Mihret Lucy and their dog Finn.

The sermon was delivered by The Rev. Elizabeth A. Sherman, Rector, St. Francis’ Church, San Francisco and the Gospeller was The Rev. Edwin Chinery, Assisting Priest at Ascension. Jubilant and beautiful music was provided by Dr. Dennis Keene, organist and choir master, conducting the Ascension choir. The service was followed by an exuberant and festive reception in the Parish Hall.

As the first church to be built on Fifth Avenue, Ascension has long held an important and notable role in Lower Manhattan; parishioners have included many prominent New Yorkers who exhibited remarkable social concern early in the church. The church’s history as a leader in progressive causes included establishing the first day nursery for babies and young children of working mothers and several missions and chapels. The parish continues this tradition today offering a neighborhood food pantry, tutoring program, hosting support groups in the church facilities and sponsoring arts and cultural programs. The church is also known for its architectural, artistic and musical heritage, including the painting of “The Ascension of Our Lord” above the main altar by John La Farge (1835-1910). With the addition of The Manton Memorial Organ in 2011 the parish has one of the premier organs in the world and hosts concerts and an annual organ academy.

Michael Battle appointed GTS professor, director of Tutu Center

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 15, 2015

[General Theological Seminary press release] The General Theological Seminary has announced that the Very Rev. Michael Battle, Ph.D., has been appointed as the Herbert Thompson Professor of Church and Society. He will also assume the position of Director of The Desmond Tutu Center. As its new Director, Battle holds a unique connection to The Desmond Tutu Center, having lived in residence with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa for two years (1993-1994) and being ordained a priest in South Africa by Archbishop Tutu in 1993. He also presented the 2008 Paddock Lectures in the Tutu Center at General Seminary on the concept of Ubuntu, an African concept central to Archbishop Tutu’s worldview.

Battle served most recently as Interim Dean of Students and Community Life at the Episcopal Divinity School. He has served as Vicar or Rector at: St. Titus Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina; Church of Our Saviour, San Gabriel, California; and St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, Raleigh, North Carolina. He also served as the interim rector or as an associate priest with other churches in North Carolina and in Cape Town, South Africa. As part of some of his placements, he worked at churches located in ethnically changing neighborhoods to help them adapt and grow. Battle also has served as Provost and Canon Theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. In 2010, he was given one of the highest Anglican Church distinctions as “Six Preacher,” by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. A distinction that goes back to 16th century England and Thomas Cranmer and is only given to a few who demonstrate great dedication to the Church.

Battle received his undergraduate degree from Duke University, and holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary and an S.T.M. from Yale University. He received his Ph.D. in Theology and Ethics also from Duke University. His academic experience includes service as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Vice President and Associate Professor of Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary; Associate Professor of Spirituality and Black Church Studies at Duke University’s Divinity School; and Assistant Professor of Spiritual and Moral Theology in the School of Theology at the University of the South. He has published nine books, including Reconciliation: the Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu and the book for The Episcopal Church’s General Convention, Ubuntu: I in You and You in Me.

As part of his many roles in the Church, Battle has served as chaplain to: Archbishop Tutu, Congressman John Lewis, the House of Bishops, and, in 2008, he was chaplain to the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops. He is a featured keynote speaker and has led numerous clergy and lay retreats, including the bishops’ retreat of the Province of the West Indies. In addition, Battle has served as vice president to the Institute for Nonviolence.

Battle has kept close ties with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and has written about his studies and friendship with the archbishop in his books. Battle and his wife, Raquel, were married by Archbishop Tutu, and their two daughters, Sage and Bliss, and son, Zion, were all baptized by him as well.

The Rev. Dr. Robert J. Owens, Professor of Old Testament, says Battle “will bring to General Seminary an impressive combination of theological scholarship, pastoral ministry, international and cross-cultural service in the Anglican communion, as well as his striking success as a teacher in some of the Episcopal Church’s leading seminaries. I think our students will be greatly blessed as they encounter his theological mind, his pastor’s heart, and his hopefulness for the church as a community of justice.”

Battle will begin his new position at General Seminary in fall 2015 and will teach Ethics and will lead the Graduate Anglican Seminar, as well as  intensive courses that will be offered, for credit or audit, through The Desmond Tutu Center.

Cynthia Moe-Lobeda is new ethics professor

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 15, 2015

Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, a well-known Lutheran ethicist, has accepted a joint appointment as professor of Christian ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and Church Divinity School of the Pacific.

Moe-Lobeda has taught at Seattle University since 2004 and is co-author of the forthcoming book, “The Bible and Ethics in the Christian Life: A New Conversation.” Her other books include “Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation” and “Public Church: For the Life of the World.”

“Cynthia Moe-Lobeda is a widely recognized expert on the ethical dimensions of globalization, the environmental crisis and the impact of race, class and gender on moral decision-making,” said the Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, dean and president of CDSP. “She will make an important contribution not only to the formation of our students at CDSP, but also to seminarians from Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia and the Pacific who study with us here in Berkeley.”

“We are very pleased that Dr. Moe-Lobeda has chosen to cast her lot with the community at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary,” said Rev. Brian Stein-Webber, interim chief administration Officer at PLTS. “Her books are already an important part of our curriculum, and to have her wisdom and insight and care being delivered in person is as much as we could hope for! We pray for her and her husband Ron’s transitions in the coming months.”

Moe-Lobeda is well known in ecclesial, faith-based organizing and theological education circles. She received her Ph.D. in Christian Ethics from Union Theological Seminary in New York where she wrote her dissertation, on “…economic globalization and Luther’s Indwelling God as source of subversive moral agency.”

Moe Lobeda had previously received an M.T.S. from Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C., and an M.S.W. from the School of Social Work at the University of Washington, Seattle. She did her undergraduate work at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota. She will assume the responsibilities of this PLTS/CDSP joint appointment in the fall semester.

“We’re delighted to welcome Dr. Moe-Lobeda,” said Alicia Vargas, interim dean at PLTS. “She will bring distinction, prophetic spark, and dedicated and world-engaged scholarship and teaching to PLTS. With this, Moe-Lobeda will contribute to the tradition of excellence and Lutheran strength of our seminary within the richness of the GTU.”

Churches coordinate relief efforts in South Sudan’s protracted conflict

ENS Headlines - Friday, May 15, 2015

Food supplies distributed by SUDRA include maize, beans, cooking oil, salt and other essentials. Photo: SUDRA

[Episcopal News Service] As the violent conflict in South Sudan continues into its 17th month, the Episcopal Church in the war-ravaged country and its global partners remain steadfast in their commitment to providing immediate relief to the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people and to the ultimate goal of peace and reconciliation.

“Amid conflict and tribulation, God cannot forget his people regardless of their disobedience,” the Rev. Joseph El-hag Abe Natana, general manager of the Sudanese Development and Relief Agency (SUDRA), told Episcopal News Service as the United Nations reported that more than 300,000 people are without “life-saving” aid in Unity State, along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, after heavy fighting has forced international aid agencies to withdraw.

“God always raises expectations with a message of hope that he will deliver his people. Hence, the humanitarian response, prayers and lobbying by many nations and people for peace, both regionally and internationally, is seen as God’s care, support and intervention,” said Natana, a priest of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

South Sudan became the world’s newest nation in July 2011, when it seceded from the north in a referendum on independence following almost half a century of civil war.

But a separate conflict erupted in December 2013 after South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

While the conflict began from a political dispute within the ruling party, it quickly morphed into tribal warfare between the Dinka, allied primarily with Kiir, and the Nuer with Machar, now a rebel leader.

Despite several attempts at brokering peace between the two leaders, fighting has continued, and more than 1.5 million people remain internally displaced and in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

SUDRA helps to coordinate food rations for the internally displaced. Photo: SUDRA

In response to the current crisis, Anglican agencies and affiliated groups are supporting SUDRA, the relief and development arm of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan & Sudan, in providing emergency food to help internally displaced people throughout the south, particularly vulnerable children, women and the elderly. Food supplies include maize, beans, cooking oil, salt and other essentials.

The Anglican Alliance – which connects and strengthens the development, relief and advocacy activities of churches, agencies and networks of the Anglican Communion – recognizes SUDRA as the lead agency and primary partner for the church’s coordinated response to the conflict in South Sudan.

Episcopal Relief & Development is one of SUDRA’s long-standing partners, and continues to support its work in addressing the growing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, especially in reviewing emergency assessments, planning program activities, preparing reports as well as conducting audits and evaluations.

Nagulan Nesiah, senior program officer for disaster response and risk reduction for Episcopal Relief & Development, said that the Anglican Alliance’s efforts in mobilizing all Anglican partners to support a coordinated process “has improved disaster response efforts by providing a way to consolidate funds donated by various partners to support a comprehensive strategy.”

Episcopal Relief & Development continues to work with SUDRA on strengthening disaster risk preparedness and response. It was among 12 Anglican agencies that together developed the “Pastors and Disasters” toolkit, a resource designed to improve disaster response efforts within the Anglican relief and development community.

“The situation in South Sudan continues to intensify,” said Nesiah. “Episcopal Relief & Development is grateful for the partnership with SUDRA and the Anglican Alliance as it continues to support the church’s ministry to care for underserved communities and people impacted by the ongoing crisis.”

Natana identified SUDRA’s priorities as providing emergency relief food, prayer and counseling, peace building and rehabilitation, and psychosocial support programs to the tens of thousands of internally displaced people. “These people are destitute and vulnerable, they need humanitarian assistance,” especially the children, women and the elderly, he said.

He praised the support and coordinating work of the Anglican Alliance that “has enabled SUDRA to be more effective in providing relief and support to internally displaced people throughout South Sudan.

“Global partnership is paramount because the crisis has not ended,” he said. “More fighting and displacement continues that demands relief delivery, peace building, lobbying and advocacy for a peaceful South Sudan.”

The U.S.-based Episcopal Church has long-standing partnerships with the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan, through companion diocese relationships, Episcopal Relief & Development programs, the advocacy work of the Office of Government Relations, and the support and solidarity of the Office of Global Relations.

Current companion relationships include Albany (New York) with the Province of Sudan; Bethlehem (Pennsylvania) with Kajo Keji; Chicago with Renk; Indianapolis with Bor; Missouri with Lui; Rhode Island with Ezo; Southwestern Virginia with the Province of Sudan; and Virginia with the Province of Sudan.

Partnerships also exist through various networks such as the American Friends of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and Hope With South Sudan.

“As brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, we remain committed to supporting the people of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan as they work to deliver relief to the suffering South Sudanese, while at the same time working for peace with justice,” said the Rev. Ranjit K. Mathews, officer for global relations and networking for the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. “There are a number of strong diocesan relationships between The Episcopal Church and the ECSSS and they will continue to be a place where information is shared, and more importantly where prayer and solidarity is offered.”

AFRECS is providing emergency relief to several Sudanese bishops whose displacement from their dioceses has resulted in their relocation, both within South Sudan and to neighboring countries, “leaving them with virtually no resources with which to support themselves and their families or to extend pastoral care to their dispersed congregations and clergy,” Richard Parkins, executive director of AFRECS, told ENS.

While the security situation in Juba, the nation’s capital, is relatively stable, border regions such as the oil-rich Upper Nile and Kadugli are heavily impacted by conflict, as well as the destabilizing efforts of the Khartoum government in the north.

AFRECS has been helping to fund the work of Bishop Andudu Elnail as he recruits and trains pastors in the Diocese of Kadugli “where the people of the Nuba Mountains continue to live in fear because of Khartoum’s ongoing assault on the Nuba people,” Parkins said.

A pilot project of peace building in Bor (Upper Nile), a region that has experienced some of the most painful suffering resulting from intertribal conflict, will begin in late May. The project is a collaboration between the Anglican Alliance, U.K. and U.S. church partners and the Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan.

AFRECS, along with other U.S. partners, also is helping to support peace and reconciliation initiatives in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, home to thousands of refugees who have the same tribal identities of those who fight each other in South Sudan, Parkins explained. “These efforts are designed to test the means of bringing warring factions together with the hope that reconciliation formed in the camp will provide a model for what might be accomplished in South Sudan when peace initiatives can be realistically carried out,” he said.

The South Sudan Council of Churches, an ecumenical movement that brings together the country’s various Christian denominations, has pressed for a place at the negotiating table but found its pleas for a ceasefire and an end to the suffering largely ignored, Parkins explained. Meanwhile, AFRECS and other partners in the United States and the United Kingdom “continue to encourage peacemaking efforts as a means of bringing hope to a war-weary nation where thousands are suffering and held hostage to the intransigence of the government leaders and their rebel adversaries.”

One consequence of a decades-long civil war between the north and south followed by an internal conflict fueled by political differences “has been the emergence of a culture of violence that is not tied to the tribal/ethnic war that has occupied so many parts of South Sudan, but which results in violent expressions of revenge and retaliation among other tribes and subtribes,” he added. “This proliferation of violence could seriously frustrate future peacemaking efforts. This situation also makes the end of fighting all the more urgent.”

— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

HOD State of the Church Committee issues statement, offers bulletin insert

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church has issued a statement following the conclusion of its work for the triennium:

The House of Deputies State of the Church Committee (SOTC) has concluded its work for the triennium. The report, submitted as part of the Blue Book, is available here.

The charge of the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church, the oldest committee of the Church, is to prepare a report for the House of Deputies that shows an accurate picture of The Episcopal  Church and to approve the form of the Annual Parochial Report. Its mandate states: “CANON I.6.5(b) A Committee of the House of Deputies shall be appointed following the close of each General Convention, to serve ad interim, and to prepare and present to the next meeting of the House of Deputies a report on the State of the Church; which report, when agreed to by the said House, shall be sent to the House of Bishops.”

The Committee on the State of the Church has partnered with Forward Movement , working together to offer an overview, or “snapshot,” of the 38- page report.  This summary report is available as a PDF document in two formats — as an 8 1/2 x 11 full sheet here or as a half-sheet suitable for use as a bulletin insert, available at no fee here. Congregations are encouraged to print and distribute this information so that Episcopalians across the church will gain an awareness of the state of our Church.

 

Peter David Eaton consecrated bishop coadjutor of Southeast Florida

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Rt. Rev. Peter David Eaton was ordained and consecrated bishop coadjutor in the Diocese of Southeast Florida on May 9. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori served as chief consecrator. Photo: Barbara Lawless/Diocese of Southeast Florida

[Diocese of Southeast Florida] Peter David Eaton was ordained and consecrated bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Southeast Florida on May 9 in a service held at Trinity Cathedral in Miami, Florida.

Eaton will be the fourth bishop of the Southeast Florida, succeeding the Rt. Rev. Leopold Frade, who will retire in January 2016 after 16 years of service to the diocese.

Over 1,200 people witnessed the service in person at the cathedral and via live stream video from a nearby hotel. Bishops from all over the country and the world attended the service. A historic occasion, this was the first time four bishops from churches in full communion with The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion participated in a service and together were co-consecrators of an Episcopal bishop. The Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht in Europe, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar in India, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Moravian Church in North America were all participants.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori led the service as chief consecrator and the Rt. Rev. Stephen Conway, the bishop of Ely, and one of Eaton’s classmates at Cambridge University, preached. The ecumenical representation from Christian churches from around the world made this consecration a significant event within The Episcopal Church. Frade recognized the significance of their presence as they greeted the crowd. A representative of the Armenian patriarch of Jerusalem and the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople processed along with other leaders of the church. “We have come here from the holy city of Jerusalem to participate in this holy day and our happiness increases greatly to see the day when Peter has been made a bishop,” said the representative of theArmenian patriarch.

Other interfaith and ecumenical representatives were the Roman Catholic bishop of Palm Beach, the archbishop of Miami, and the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem.

At the end of the service, guests cheered the consecration choir for their joyful, melodic voices, which brought most to their feet. The group included choristers from parishes around the Diocese of Southeast Florida. The music for the day, which included traditional songs in Spanish, French and English, also included special arrangements by several organists and the choir’s conductor, Matthew Steynor.

The Rt. Rev. Peter David Eaton will be enthroned on Jan. 30 at Trinity Cathedral in Miami.

— Altoria White is director of communications for the Diocese of Southeast Florida. 

Maryland diocese names Chilton R. Knudsen as assistant bishop

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has named former Bishop of Maine Chilton R. Knudsen as its assistant bishop. A statement from the diocese about the appointment and a biography of Knudsen follows.

Statement from Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton

It is with great pleasure that I have announced, with the concurrence of the standing committee, the appointment of the Right Rev. Chilton R. Knudsen as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Maryland.

Bishop Knudsen is well known throughout the Episcopal Church as a leader and an expert in addiction and recovery with clergy and congregations. Her depth of knowledge and experience will benefit the Diocese of Maryland as we continue to learn more about this issue. Our plan and prayer is to be the mission focused diocese we aspire to be and Bishop Knudsen brings gifts that will help us.

Biography

The Right Reverend Chilton R. Knudsen, DD
8th Bishop of Maine (retired), The Episcopal Church

Bishop Knudsen is the oldest of four siblings in a Navy family. She grew up overseas (Panama, Guam/Marianas Islands, the Philippines, Japan); here began her commitment to world-wide mission. She studied biology/ecology at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, PA, earning a BA in 1968. During graduate study at the University of Pittsburgh (1969-1972), she taught at her alma mater, developing interdisciplinary courses in Behavioral Biology and Ecosystem Analysis. She later taught in the Nursing Program at a community college, and was a counselor at maternal health clinics in Pittsburgh, PA, and in Wheaton, IL.

Called to the priesthood in early adolescence, long before the Episcopal Church ordained women, she enrolled in 1977 at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, receiving the M. Div. in 1980. She was ordained deacon in 1980 and priest in 1981, first planting/pastoring a new mission in Bolingbrook, IL. In 1987, she was called as Pastoral Care Officer (later Canon for Pastoral Care) in the Diocese of Chicago. During her diocesan tenure in Chicago, she offered pastoral care to clergy, their families and congregations in crisis. She was a faculty member in Christian Ethics in the program for the Diaconate. She developed and managed the Employee Assistance Program for the Diocese of Chicago.

Elected a Trustee of the Church Pension Fund (CPF), she chaired the Benefits Policy Committee during the system-wide revision of CPF’s pension and medical insurance programs. She served on diocesan teams overseeing the ordination screening / formation process, and became qualified as an Interim Pastor. She became a recognized expert in congregational healing, authoring a chapter in RESTORING THE SOUL OF A CHURCH (Alban, 1995).

Elected Bishop of Maine in 1997, she served until retirement in September 2008, leading the diocese in mission work in New Orleans, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The Diocese of Maine formally entered into a mission partnership (Companion Diocese Covenant) with the Diocese of Haiti in 2002, and she has spent much time in Haiti over the last decade. Important accomplishments during her episcopacy include: restoration of the Vocational Diaconate, creative ministry development in small rural congregations, a successful capital campaign, inauguration of campus ministry, and important work in reconciliation/peacemaking as the diocese struggled with church-wide controversies. From 2003-2008, Bishop Knudsen was President of the Episcopal Province of New England (Province One) and sat on the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice.

Bishop Knudsen has extensive experience in conflict resolution, organizational development, and issues of addiction/recovery, especially regarding systems (congregations, dioceses, organizations) impacted by addiction – in all its forms — in clergy or lay leaders. Her audiotape Christianity and the Twelve Steps (1985) was produced by Cowley Publications. In November 2010, Morehouse-Barlow/Church Publishing released a widely-used book SO YOU THINK YOU DON’T KNOW ONE? Addiction and Recovery in Clergy and Congregations, co-authored with Nancy VanDyke Platt. She and Canon Platt also co-authored DEPENDING ON THE GRACE OF GOD: A Spiritual Journey through the Twelve Steps (Forward Movement, 2014).

She has received a number of awards and honors, including:
Outstanding Woman Leader, Chicago area YWCA 1970
Sabbatical Fellowship, Russian Orthodox Theology/Iconography 1994
Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, Seabury-Western 1999
Maine Council of Churches honoree for Religious Leadership 2000
Maine Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee 2006
Lambeth Conference Designation as Indaba Group Leader 2008

In retirement, she served as a Trustee of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, a Board member of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage, a popular guest preacher, a consultant to religious organizations, a retreat/conference leader, an advocate and mission-team trainer for Haiti and a personnel/human resources advisor in church and non-profit contexts, especially in matters of addiction and recovery.

Bishop Knudsen was a missionary in the Diocese of Haiti (2009). She served as Bishop-in-Residence in the Diocese of San Diego (resident at St. Paul in the Desert, Palm Springs, CA) in early 2011. She was the Presiding Judge on the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop (2010-2011).

Coming out of retirement, she served as Interim Bishop in the Diocese of Lexington, KY, (2011-2012), then as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of New York (2013-2014). She currently serves as Assistant Bishop of Long Island, with special responsibility for establishing Episcopal Ministries of Long Island, a successor organization to previous development and outreach programs in the diocese. She continues a ministry of retreat leadership and spiritual direction. She is the Bishop Visitor to the Community of the Gospel, a dispersed co-educational Benedictine community recognized by the House of Bishops. Bishop Knudsen is liturgically and pastorally competent in French and Spanish.

Travelling is a joy, and she finds long car trips relaxing. She observes a discipline of prayer and silent meditation, spiritual reading, and working a 12-Step program. Golf, swimming, hiking, opera and classical music, and spending time with family and friends, support balance and wholeness. She and her husband, Dr. Michael J. Knudsen, a retired computer scientist and musician, make their home in Bath, Maine.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence plans prayerful procession at General Convention

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

[Canticle Communications press release] Bishops United Against Gun Violence, a group of more than 60 Episcopal bishops, will sponsor a prayerful procession through the streets of Salt Lake City during the church’s General Convention. The gathering is intended to urge people of faith to seek common ground in efforts to curtail gun violence.

The event, called Claiming Common Ground Against Gun Violence, will begin at 7:15 a.m. on Sunday, June 28, outside the Salt Palace Convention Center on the northwest corner of West Temple and South 200, said Bishop Mark Beckwith of Newark, a co-convener of Bishops United.

The service will last roughly one hour and cover a one-mile route, Beckwith said. It will include opening prayers, a stop for testimony in nearby Pioneer Park, and concluding prayers outside the Salt Palace.

Bishop Scott Hayashi of Utah, who survived a gunshot wound as a young man, will be among the speakers. Bishop Jeff Lee of Chicago, Dent Davidson, music chaplain for the House of Bishops, and the Rev. Lester Mackenzie, chaplain to the House of Deputies, will lead prayers and music during the procession.

“The debate over gun violence in our country has become polarized, but it need not be that way,” Beckwith said. “There is broad agreement among people who own guns and people who don’t that universal background checks and other common sense measure save lives while protecting the right of law-abiding citizens to bear arms. We want to focus the attention of our church and the broader public on these common sense reforms, and muster the political will to see them enacted.”

Beckwith convenes Bishops United with Bishops Ian Douglas of Connecticut and Eugene Sutton of Maryland. The group formed after mass shootings at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

Bishops United supports:
·    Expanding the federal background checks system to cover gun shows, internet and commercial sales
·    Making gun trafficking a federal crime
·    Encouraging the development of “smart gun” technology to reduce accidental shootings—especially among children
·    Requiring that guns be stored safely
·    Improving access to mental healthcare for all Americans.

Bishops United Against Gun Violence is an ad hoc group of nearly 60 Episcopal bishops who have come together to explore means of reducing the appalling levels of gun violence in our society, and to advocate for policies and legislation that save lives. Bishops United works against gun violence by forming relationships and coalitions with interfaith colleagues, fellow advocates, and families whose lives have been touched by gun violence; giving voice to voiceless gun violence victims through public liturgy, advocacy, and prayer; and supporting each another in efforts to end gun violence in local communities.

Malcolm Young named as 9th dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

[Grace Cathedral press release] The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, bishop of California, and the Board of Trustees of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, have announced that the Rev. Malcolm Clemens Young has accepted their nomination and call to become the 9th dean of Grace Cathedral.

Young is a Harvard-trained theologian who currently serves as the rector of Christ Church, Los Altos, California. During his time at Christ Church, Young founded the Ventana School, an Episcopal day school for students from pre-school to 5th grade.

Young is married to Heidi Ho, and they have two teenage children, Micah and Melia.

Young is expected to join Grace Cathedral on Aug. 1 and will succeed the Very Rev. Jane Shaw, 8th dean of Grace Cathedral, who became the dean for religious life at Stanford University in autumn 2014.

Anglicans continue emergency assistance following second Nepal quake

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

[Anglican Communion News Service] Anglican agencies have renewed appeals for support after a second earthquake hit Nepal causing further death and destruction, the Anglican Alliance reports.

The 7.3 magnitude quake struck around 12.30 p.m. local time on Tuesday, May 12, killing at least 82 people, including 17 in neighboring India and one in Chinese Tibet. It came on the heels of the 8.1 magnitude quake on April 25 in which some 7,700 died.

“The [first] quake has claimed more than 7,000 lives, and many more thousands injured. We have lost many members, including a dear pastor, [Laxman Tamang],” said the Rev. Lewis Lew, Anglican dean of Nepal.

Eighteen Anglican church buildings had been destroyed, as well as more than 8,000 homes in the communities where the church was present, according to Lew, who underlined the need for emergency assistance: “More than 30,000 in these affected areas are displaced. Many are still needing temporary shelters, food supplies and medical aids.”

Since the first earthquake, the Anglican Alliance has kept in close touch with the Deanery of Nepal and with the various relief and development agencies around the Anglican Communion. Many, including Episcopal Relief & Development, launched appeals immediately following the first earthquake and are continuing to fund emergency assistance to meet urgent needs for food, clean water and shelter.

A first medical response team was to travel to the disaster area May 6-11, said ACROSS, a crisis relief ministry under the Diocesan Mission Board of The Diocese of Singapore.

According to Anglican Overseas Aid, ACT Alliance partners have distributed tarpaulins, hygiene kits and ready-made food to families in Kathmandu and are assessing the situation in remote communities, with the aim of providing water, sanitation and hygiene materials, as well as emergency shelter to people who lost their homes or who are staying outside for fear of aftershocks.

Local clergy, pastors and church leaders gathered in Kathmandu on May 11 for a time of prayer and encouragement. “This will be an important time for the Anglican Church in Nepal, and we need your prayers, for myself and the clergy team from Singapore, as we stand together with our brethren,” said Lew.

To support the Nepal Earthquake Response Fund, please visit episcopalrelief.org.

Yemen: Situation in Aden ‘terrible,’ says Anglican bishop

ENS Headlines - Thursday, May 14, 2015

Photo: Christ Church Aden

[The Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf] The Rt. Rev. Michael Lewis, bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf (The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East), has said that the situation in Aden, Yemen, remains very difficult but that staff of the clinic associated with Christ Church were safe despite property damage due to blast waves from shelling in the area.

He writes:

“As of today [May 12] the situation in Aden is that all the windows of Christ Church, its associated clinic, and the guesthouse have been blown out as a result of blast waves from sustained shelling on the mountain that dominates our compound in Tawahi. But we are told that all our staff are safe so far, and for that we thank God.

“The general state of Aden is terrible: lack of fuel means lack of electricity, and telecommunications and even basic movement around the large city have become hugely difficult. Food is limited, and money to buy it even more so.

“Our administrator is very thankful for the many prayers that he knows have been made for him, for all who work at Ras Morbat, and for the people of Aden and the Yemen as a whole, a country sorely abused by those with the power, if they chose to use, to promote the common good to the glory of God.”

JNCPB announces no additional nominees

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

[Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs press release] The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has released the following statement:

On April 27, 2015, the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) announced its process for nominating bishops from the floor to the office of the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church at General Convention in June 2015.

The JNCPB is canonically charged with “establishing a timely process for any bishop or deputy to express the intent to nominate any other member of the House of Bishops from the floor at the time the Joint Nominating Committee presents its nominees to the joint session of the two Houses, and for each Bishop so nominated to be included in the information distributed about the nominees”.

The JNCPB outlined this procedure in a message to the Church on April 27, 2015.

The deadline for bishops and deputies to nominate a bishop under this procedure was May 12, 2015. JNCPB announces that no additional bishops were nominated.

Therefore, the list of bishops presented by the JNCPB will be formally placed in nomination before a joint session of the two Houses of the General Convention on June 26, 2015. They are:

Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal of Southern Ohio
Bishop Michael B. Curry of North Carolina
Bishop Ian T. Douglas of Connecticut
Bishop Dabney T. Smith of Southwest Florida

The JNCPB will shortly release additional information from each of the nominees.  Each nominee has responded to questions about his vision for the church, which will be posted to the General Convention website soon.  Additionally, each nominee made himself available for a video interview.  These will also be made available soon.  

The JNCPB thanks everyone for your prayers for the nominees and for this election process of our Church.

The JNCPB is composed of a lay member, a priest or deacon, and a bishop elected from each of the nine provinces of The Episcopal Church, plus two youth representatives who were appointed by the President of the House of Deputies, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings. The General Convention deputies and bishops serve a three-year term to conclude at the close of General Convention 2015 in Salt Lake City, UT (Diocese of Utah).

For more info: pbnominatingcommittee@gmail.com.

First preschool financial aid program launched by Trinity Wall Street

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

[Trinity Church Wall Street press release] Trinity Preschool will be able to serve children and families from a wider range of socio-economic backgrounds through a new needs-based financial aid program beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, announced the Rev. William Lupfer, rector of Trinity Wall Street.

“Quality early education is essential in giving a child a head start in life. By offering financial assistance at Trinity Preschool, we will help close the margin for families in need who live or work in the area,” said Lupfer. “Our staff is eager to welcome more people into our community.”

Established as a ministry in 1982 to serve families who live or work in Lower Manhattan, Trinity Preschool’s mission is to support children’s development by nurturing wholeness in mind, body, and spirit. Although it is an Episcopal school, the preschool is open to children of all faiths and traditions.

Financial aid awards will be determined annually based on an enrolled family’s demonstrated financial need and the program’s availability of funds.

Applications for the 2015-2016 school year must be received by June 12.  Applicants will be informed of the financial aid awards by June 19. Applications received after June 12 will be considered based upon the availability of funds and eligibility. Families will need to apply each year for the program if they anticipate any financial need.

For more information on Trinity Preschool or its financial aid program, visit www.trinitypreschoolnyc.org or contact Leigh Delaney at (212) 602-0829.

Companion Link partnerships energize Anglican diocesan mission

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

[Anglican Communion News Service] Five Anglican Communion companion dioceses on four continents agreed at a recent meeting in Jerusalem to expand collaboration in their ongoing partnership journey, with a focus on clergy training and communication.

Bishops and clergy from the dioceses of Kiteto (Anglican Church of Tanzania), Leicester (The Church of England), Mount Kilimanjaro (Anglican Church of Tanzania), Trichy-Tanjore (The Church of South India (United)) and Wyoming (The Episcopal Church) gathered from April 27 to May 3 for the latest in a series of conversations aimed at inspiring mission in each of the five dioceses.

They came away rejoicing in their partnership in the Gospel, agreeing that their journey was energizing mission in all of their dioceses.

Drawing inspiration from the Anglican Communion’s “Continuing Indaba” program, the group’s journey began in 2014 when Bishop Gnanamuthu Paul Vasanthakumar of Trichy-Tanjore invited Bishop Timothy Stevens of his companion Diocese of Leicester to come to India. Also invited were the bishops of Leicester’s companion dioceses, the Rt. Rev. Isaiah Chambala of Kiteto and the Rt. Rev. Stanley Elilekia Hotay of Mount Kilimanjaro. Bishop John Smylie of Wyoming, which shares a companion relationship with the Diocese of Kiteto, completed the circle.

Through the experience, the five bishops found a common sense of mission and decided to embark on a pilgrimage of strengthening relationships and learning about life and mission in one another’s contexts.

Transforming perceptions
Since the initial visit, both lay and ordained people from the five dioceses have continued the journey, gaining not only insights into the other dioceses, but also a different perspective on their own – new perspectives that are transforming their dioceses’ ministries.

One such example is the way that the Diocese of Leicester has made cross-cultural encounters to Trichy-Tanjore and Tanzania a core part of new clergy training.

“When new clergy stand in different contexts where Christians are a minority or where they are facing different kinds of challenges they become more conscious of the particular pressures faced by Christians in their own parishes,” said Canon Mike Harrison, who has taken part in several visits. “It gives us insight as well as inspiration, courage and hope, and encourages us to proclaim the Gospel in our context.”

During their Jerusalem meeting, as the group visited the holy sites they reflected on interreligious tensions under the heading of “blessedness and conflict” and on ways to “model difference without division” within the Anglican Communion.

“I hope our meeting of five dioceses, representing four continents and various theological viewpoints, may be an example for the larger Anglican Communion about how, when centered upon Christ, we are able to find the space and trust to be with one another in authentic and honest conversation,” said Smylie.

New energy for mission
Practical outcomes underlined the bishops’ commitment to taking their conversations a step further. In a statement from the meeting, they indicate concrete plans for the ongoing partnership with the aim of furthering proclamation of the Gospel in all five dioceses.

Their plans include a particular focus on the equipping of ordained and lay leaders, not only in terms of study trips but in developing the training programs of the respective dioceses.

“The bishops resolve to focus on the training and development of ministers and ministry … via both bilateral and multilateral work together,” says the statement, outlining in particular deeper cooperation between the Tanzanian dioceses of Kiteto and Mount Kilimanjaro and the South Indian Diocese of Trichy-Tanjore.

Future meetings of the companion dioceses will focus on a particular theme. The Diocese of Leicester will host the next meeting in 2016 and the Diocese of Wyoming in 2017.

The bishops also decided to establish a communications hub in the Diocese of Wyoming to facilitate better interaction between the dioceses.

The Rev. Canon Phil Groves, who facilitates Continuing Indaba from the Anglican Communion Office and who served on the Diocese of Leicester world mission group for 10 years, welcomed the developments.

“When Anglicans journey together in honest conversation they find new energy for mission in their own context. This is the aim of Continuing Indaba,” he said.

Download the statement from the meeting on the Diocese of Leicester’s website.

Homeless Jesus sculpture unveiled at Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral

ENS Headlines - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

[Church of Ireland] A striking seven foot wide Homeless Jesus sculpture outside Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral has been dedicated and blessed by the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Dublin, the Most Rev. Michael Jackson and the Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin. The sculpture has been presented to the people of Dublin by an anonymous North American benefactor and the sculptor, Timothy Schmalz, flew in from Canada to unveil it.

The bronze sculpture depicts a park bench with a faceless cloaked figure lying on it. Passers by realize that the sculpture depicts Jesus only when they notice the holes in the feet. The sculpture is located in front of the cathedral in full view of the public.

Speaking during the short service in the cathedral before the unveiling, Jackson said that the people of Dublin were both honored and chastened to receive the Homeless Jesus sculpture. Honored, he said, because of the beauty of the craftsmanship and the trust expressed in the location of Christ Church Cathedral, and chastened because of the “scandalous fact that the relentlessness of homelessness and the statistics of individual homeless people in Dublin in 2015 still merit such a sculpture as a reminder and as a memorial.”

The archbishop said that Scripture spoke of Jesus saying: “The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” The sculpture gives everyone who passes an opportunity to reflect on this facet of the narrative of Christianity, the birth, crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he said.

“Throughout the world of today human beings are subjected to indignity, homelessness, trafficking and death simply for being alive and getting under the ideological skin of their oppressors,” Jackson said. “Every day for them is a Good Friday. They wait for the day of resurrection in hope and in fear, in trust and in betrayal, in darkness and in light. Homeless people draw us into their world – and rightly; we dare not abandon them here or abroad. The 21st century is not yet an improvement on the 20th century. The Homeless Jesus is a reminder of their plight and terror, whatever their nationality or creed – and an icon of solidarity with them. Evil and exclusion make few distinctions of subtlety as they sweep forward in giddy destructiveness.”

Martin said that for Christians, the homeless were not just statistics. Their plight is our plight, he said, adding that the image of the Homeless Jesus reminds us of the demands of belief in Jesus Christ. He said that the sculpture was not just a normal statue; it was not created to be looked at and admired, it was an image which should draw the viewer’s glance to the many park benches, doorways and sheltered corners where Jesus lay homeless every day and every night.

Casts of the much-talked-about Homeless Jesus sculpture have been installed in cities in North America, Canada and Europe. The Homeless Jesus first received international attention in early 2014 when a sculpture was installed outside St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in downtown Davidson, North Carolina.

Following a competition among prospective Dublin sites, Christ Church Cathedral was chosen to be the location by sculptor Schmalz.

City of Raleigh to include Saint Augustine’s University professors and alumnus in its Hall of Fame

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

On May 5, during the City of Raleigh’s City Council, the board for the Raleigh Hall of Fame announced its 2015 Hall of Fame inductees. Three of the eight honorees have ties to Saint Augustine’s University – Dr. Robert E. Bridges, Rev. Arthur James Calloway and Bishop Henry Beard Delany.  This recognition demonstrates how two former SAU professors and an alumnus have upheld SAU’s rich legacy by making significant contributions to the city.

Dr. Bridges’ service to the City of Raleigh began in 1961. Upon earning a degree in elementary education from Saint Augustine’s College (now University), he was hired by Raleigh City Schools to teach fourth grade at Hunter Elementary School.  In 1984, he became the school system’s first African-American superintendent.   During his 28-year career, he helped integrate the school system, participated in the merger of the Raleigh School System and Wake County School System into one, and oversaw unprecedented growth.  Aware of the need for African-American male children to have mentors and encouragement in achieving academic success, he created the Helping Hands Program which the school system still operates.  After retiring in 1989, Dr. Bridges served as provost at SAU and chaired the NC Advisory Commission on Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps.  He continues to work with the Helping Hands Program and mentor young African-American men.  His impact on the community and the school system has been recognized throughout the years by numerous awards including the Wake Education Partnership Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013.

For thirty-nine years, Rev. Calloway served the citizens of Southeast Raleigh as rector of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church.  Under his leadership, the church established after-school programs, provided meeting space for Alcoholic Anonymous, and provided grants for senior citizen programing all to the benefit of Southeast Raleigh.  During this time, he also took on the role of community organizer, civil rights activist and college instructor at SAU.  During the 1960s, he helped organize efforts to integrate Raleigh City Schools and supported the election of African Americans to political office.  Rev. Calloway was elected to the Raleigh City Council representing Southeast Raleigh for three terms from 1979-1985.  He was also involved with the PTA, Save Our Community Association, Southside CAC and Southeast Optimist Club.  In 1998, Rev. Calloway retired from St. Ambrose.  He passed away in 2001.

Alumnus Delany, a centennial inductee, was born an enslaved person on February 5, 1858 and died April 14, 1928 as a Bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. Delany, a Georgia native, arrived in Raleigh in 1881 to enroll as a student at St. Augustine’s Normal School to study theology and music. After graduating in 1885, Delany immediately joined the staff. He served as the chaplain, vice principal and supervisor of building projects. He and his students helped construct several buildings on the campus including the Historic Chapel, which still is a place of place of spiritual guidance for the campus and the community.

Ordained in The Episcopal Church in 1889, Bishop Delany’s legacy continues in the churches he helped found as well as at SAU’s Historic Chapel.

A Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for Monday, October 5 at the Raleigh Convention Center. For more information, visit www.raleighhalloffame.org.

Sewanee’s School of Theology confers 2 honorary degrees

ENS Headlines - Tuesday, May 12, 2015

[Sewanee: The University of the South press release] Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba and Bishop of East Carolina Robert Skirving received honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees from the University of the South’s School of Theology in Sewanee, Tennessee, during a ceremony on May 8.

A press release from Sewanee is available here.

Full bios of the honorary degree recipients may be found here.

Katharine G. Flexer installed as rector of St. Michael’s, New York

ENS Headlines - Monday, May 11, 2015

The Rt. Rev. Bavi E. (Nedi) Rivera, provisional bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Oregon, the Rev. Katharine (Kate) G. Flexer and her children Frances and Benjamin, and seminarian Tommie Watkins, following the May 3 installation. Photo: Dave McGlynn

[St. Michael’s Church] The West Coast came east on Sunday, May 3, when the Rev. Katharine (Kate) G. Flexer, was installed as the 11th rector of St. Michael’s Church at Amsterdam Avenue and West 99th Street in New York City. Flexer is the first woman rector in the Manhattan church’s 208-year history.

The Rt. Rev. Andrew M.L. Dietsche, bishop of the Diocese of New York, presided, and the Rt. Rev. Bavi E. (Nedi) Rivera, provisional bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Oregon, preached. During the sermon, Rivera reminisced about how, when she was rector of St. Aidan’s Church in San Francisco, California, she had hired Flexer as a youth minister fresh from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Flexer, in her own remarks, said that Rivera continues to be her mentor.

Flexer was presented with symbolic gifts from St. Michael’s ministries, including the Saturday Kitchen and Pilgrim Resource Center, which serves more than 200 meals each week; the Sunday school classes, with more than 60 children; the Trinity Place Shelter volunteers, who provide food for a 10-bed transitional shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth at the neighboring Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan; and St. Michael’s Cemetery, 88 acres in Astoria, Queens. The music ministry commissioned a hymn as a gift, “How Large the Promise,” by composer Bill Heigen, which was sung during the service.

After concluding the induction, Dietsche said to the congregation, “Greet your new rector.” Flexer received a prolonged standing ovation. She then introduced her family: husband Jim Hinch, an editor at Guideposts magazine; and children Frances, 8, and Benjamin, 5, who all joined her on the chancel steps, to another standing ovation.

Flexer brings bicoastal experience to her new role. She is a native of the Seattle, Washington, area and a former associate rector at St. Michael’s. Since 2011 she has served as rector of The Episcopal Church in Almaden, a neighborhood of San Jose, California. On the Saturday before the installation, Flexer, Hinch and the children, all of whom are outdoor enthusiasts, led a group of 24 parishioners (and a dog) on a family hike to Breakneck Ridge in Hudson Highlands State Park, an hour north of the city.