Bishop of Central Ecuador Dies Suddenly

Bishop Victor Scantlebury | Photo: Vincent Johnson, Diocese of Chicago

By Kirk Petersen

The Rt. Rev. Victor Alfonso Scantlebury, interim bishop of the Diocese of Central Ecuador, passed away suddenly at his home in Mississippi on December 4, at the age of 75.

The announcement was made by the Rt. Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee, Bishop of Chicago, who served with Bishop Scantlebury in Chicago for three years, ending in 2011.

Bishop Scantlebury’s episcopacy took him to four dioceses in three countries. He was elected bishop suffragan of Panama in 1991, became assisting bishop in the Diocese of Mississippi in 1994, and was called by Lee’s predecessor, Bishop William Persell, to serve as assistant bishop in Chicago in 2000.

Shortly after the 2011 end of his tenure in Chicago, Bishop Scantlebury was named interim bishop of the Diocese of Ecuador Central, and he served in that role until his death. He was named to the position after the entire leadership of that diocese resigned to settle a dispute between Bishop Luis Fernando Ruiz, who was bishop diocesan at the time, and the Standing Committee of the diocese.

In May 2011, the Standing Committee declared itself the ecclesiastical authority in Central Ecuador, saying they could no longer accept Bishop Ruiz’s authority. Then-Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori rejected the action as “irregular,” and appointed a small team to mediate. This led to the leadership resignation in September 2011. “My approach will be one of a pastoral ministry of reconciliation and restructuring of the diocese,” he told Episcopal News Service upon his appointment.

“During the three years we served together, I came to value Victor’s quick humor, passion for youth ministry, especially in our Latino congregations, and his heart for global mission,” Bishop Lee wrote. “We owe him particular gratitude for the work he did nearly 20 years ago to establish our mission relationship with the Diocese of Southeast Mexico. Victor cherished his time in Chicago and remained an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs, a devotion he had held since his days as a television cameraman.”

Bishop Scantlebury was a native of Panama, and before his consecration in 1991 he served several parishes there, including the church where he grew up. He held a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Panama, and trained for ministry at the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Caribbean, which was based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and closed in 1976.

Central Ecuador, based in the capital of Quito, is one of two Episcopal dioceses in the country. The other is Litoral Ecuador, based in Guayaquil and encompassing the coastal region.

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