The Diocese of Bethlehem’s standing committee has nominated the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, bishop of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, to serve for three years as Bethlehem’s provisional bishop. If approved by Bethlehem’s diocesan convention on March 1, Bishop Rowe would add the duties to his existing oversight in the northwestern diocese, which is based nearly 400 miles away in Erie.
The Diocese of Bethlehem comprises fourteen counties in northeastern Pennsylvania, including the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Hazleton, Reading, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre.
“The Standing Committee chose Bishop Sean as our nominee for provisional bishop because of his stable, forward-thinking leadership in Northwestern Pennsylvania,” said the Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns, president of Bethlehem’s standing committee and rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton
“He has a strong track record of building relationships with clergy and lay leaders and proven skill at resolving conflict directly and effectively.”
“I am honored to be nominated as provisional bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem,” Rowe said. “Across the Episcopal Church, dioceses are seeking innovative ways to pursue 21st-century mission and ministry. I am pleased to have this opportunity to help transform the church by fostering collaboration and developing new models for mission that will strengthen the witness of the Episcopal Church in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the work of God’s people in our communities.”
The Diocese of Bethlehem’s previous bishop, the Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, retired on December 31 after a terminal sabbatical. On January 1, the standing committee announced its plan to call a provisional bishop for a three-year term. “We believe that calling a provisional bishop is the best way for the Diocese of Bethlehem to undertake a healthy, productive period of reflection and discernment about the mission to which God is calling us,” Gerns said. “We’re delighted that Bishop Sean’s skills and proximity make this new arrangement possible.”
If elected, Rowe will take up his new duties immediately and by August 2014 spend half of his time in each diocese. He, his wife, Carly, and their one-year-old daughter, Lauren, will divide their time between Erie and Bethlehem.
Rowe was ordained bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, which comprises 33 congregations in 13 counties, in 2007. A graduate of Grove City College and of Virginia Theological Seminary, the bishop is a Ph.D. candidate in organizational learning and leadership at Gannon University in Erie.
He is parliamentarian for the House of Bishops, chair of the Episcopal Church Building Fund, and a member of the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, the Council of Advice to the President of the House of Deputies, and the General Board of Examining Chaplains.