The Diocese of Bethlehem has elected the Rev. Canon Kevin Nichols as its ninth bishop.

The Rev. Canon Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, canon to the ordinary of the Episcopal Church in Colorado, was the other nominee. The one-ballot election was close among Bethlehem’s laity: Nichols won on a 47-45 vote. The distance was wider among clergy: Nichols won 43-28.

Nichols, 56, is chief operating officer and canon for mission resources in the Diocese of New Hampshire.

“I am thrilled to be joining with the people of the Diocese of Bethlehem to bear witness to the power of the Resurrection in their communities,” Nichols said. “The momentum there is unmistakable, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us together.

“I see this as a moment for us as a church to recover our purpose for why we are here, to reconcile, and to offer God’s love and healing where there has been painful damage. The Diocese of Bethlehem in its diverse landscapes is rich and fertile ground for God’s planting and pruning.”

Nichols is a former president of New Hampshire’s standing committee and a member of the churchwide Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church.

A former Roman Catholic priest who received his master of divinity degree from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, he was received into the Episcopal priesthood in 1999 and has served as rector in the New Hampshire parishes of St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield, and St. Andrew’s, Hopkinton.

“I really like how naturally Kevin integrates his faith and spirituality into his everyday life,” said the Rev. J. Douglas Moyer, president of the diocesan standing committee. “To me it is apparent that he is a very spiritual person, close to God, and will make a wonderful pastor. He doesn’t talk about I, he talks about ‘we, we, we.’ And we are ready to do this together.”

Bethlehem’s eighth bishop, the Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, served from 1996 to January 2014.

The Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe, Bishop of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, served Bethlehem as provisional bishop for four years while the diocese determined its future.

“This diocese is so ready to take the next step, and we were not four years ago,” Moyer said. “And we are so excited about where we are headed.”

The Diocese of Bethlehem comprises almost 12,000 members in 58 congregations in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Adapted from the Diocese of Bethlehem’s announcement

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