By Kirk Petersen

The Diocese of Chicago has announced what appears to be the first slate of bishop candidates composed entirely of people of color.

Delegates at a virtual convention December 12 will choose among three Black candidates and an Indian American to become the XIII Bishop of Chicago, succeeding the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, who has served since 2008 and will retire at the end of 2020.

The candidates are:

  • The Rev. Canon Paula E. Clark, Canon to the Ordinary and Chief of Staff, Diocese of Washington
  • The Rev. Edwin Daniel Johnson, Rector, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Boston
  • The Rev. Dr. Fulton L. Porter III, Rector, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Chicago
  • The Rev. Winnie Varghese, Priest for Ministry and Program Coordination, Trinity Church Wall Street, New York City

The diocese originally planned for an election in June and for Lee to retire in August, but both dates were postponed because of the pandemic.

The winning candidate will become the spiritual and administrative leader of 31,000 baptised members at 122 parishes and missions. The diocese includes 22 counties in the northern third of Illinois, with the Diocese of Springfield incorporating the remainder of the state.

In 2013 the diocese reunited with the Diocese of Quincy, which had become unsustainably small after many of the priests and members left the Episcopal Church in 2008 because of theological differences. The departure led to litigation over the ownership of church properties. Earlier this year, Lee announced the settlement of most of the outstanding lawsuits, although ownership issues remain unresolved for two congregations.