By Kirk Petersen
The Rt. Rev. Melissa Skelton has returned to the Diocese of Olympia after an extended sojourn in Canada. Bishop of Olympia Greg Rickel has appointed Skelton as assisting bishop, effective March 1, 2021 — making her one of a small cadre of people who have carried a crozier in both the Episcopal Church and another province of the Anglican Communion.
Bishop Skelton was serving as a Seattle rector and as diocesan canon for congregational development in 2013, when she was elected the IX Bishop of New Westminster, based in Vancouver. In 2018 she added the title of Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and Yukon, overseeing a cluster of dioceses and ranking just below the Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. She retired from those roles as of February 28, the day before the effective date of her appointment in Olympia.
Bishop Todd Ousley, who oversees all bishop searches as the Church’s bishop for pastoral development, said there are four currently serving bishops in addition to Skelton with episcopacies in both the Episcopal Church and another Anglican province:
- Bishop Mark MacDonald served as Bishop of Alaska and now is National Indigenous Archbishop for the Anglican Church of Canada;
- Mark Van Koevering is Bishop of Lexington, previously assistant in West Virginia, and originally served as Bishop of Niassa in Mozambique, part of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa;
- Santosh Marray is currently Bishop of Easton, formerly assistant in East Carolina then assistant in Alabama; originally Bishop of Seychelles, which is a diocese of the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean;
- Hector Monterroso is assistant bishop of Texas, formerly Bishop of Costa Rica, which is part of IARCA (Iglesia Anglicana de la Región Central de América).
During her previous stint in Olympia, Skelton worked with Bishop Rickel to develop and found the College for Congregational Development, and served as its first director. The college is described on its website as “a comprehensive training program that seeks to nurture and develop congregational development practitioners from within existing parish lay and clergy leadership.” It operates intensive programs that take place over a two-year period. Since the college was founded in 2009, similar programs of the same name have launched in other dioceses, including Spokane, Northern California, Rochester, Chicago, and Indianapolis.
“My service as your bishop began with Melissa on our team and I was so blessed to have her expertise during those first years,” Rickel said in a letter to the diocese. “I am so very excited that she will be ‘on the team’ again as I round out my last ones.” The announcement said she will be remunerated on a per-diem basis as she performs church visitations and otherwise represents the diocese at official functions.
Skelton said she is delighted “to support the ministry of Bishop Greg Rickel with a special emphasis on congregational development and on cultivating relationships with Indigenous Peoples in the Diocese of Olympia.”
Eastern & Western Michigan
The Rt. Rev. Skip Adams, a retired Bishop of Central New York, is now serving the dioceses of Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan as assisting bishop while those two dioceses await the outcome of a Title IV disciplinary action against Bishop Whayne Hougland Jr., who was suspended last year for 12 months after admitting to an extramarital affair.
Adams, who led the Diocese of Central New York from 2001 to 2016 and then served three years as bishop provisional in the Diocese of South Carolina, was welcomed Feb. 1 as consultant and then assisting bishop of the two dioceses in central Michigan.
The two dioceses finalized a partnership agreement in 2019, and part of that agreement was to share a bishop. Hougland, who has served as Western Michigan bishop since 2013, was elected provisional bishop of Eastern Michigan in October 2019.
The two dioceses’ standing committees announced on June 15, 2020, that Hougland had reached an agreement with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to serve a one-year suspension after acknowledging making “serious mistakes” in pursuing the affair. The other person involved in the affair was not an Episcopalian, nor a member of the staff of either diocese, and no state or federal laws were broken, according to the dioceses.
At that time, the dioceses said final disciplinary action was pending with the Disciplinary Board for Bishops. Hougland remains on a one-year suspension, according to The Episcopal Church’s Office of Pastoral Development.
The two standing committee presidents said in a Feb. 1 message to their dioceses that Adams would conduct his ministry from his home in New York during the pandemic. “We do not know yet when his time with us will conclude,” they said. “This is partially dependent on the decision-making that will take place later this year related to Bishop Hougland’s suspension.”
–Read more at Episcopal News Service
The Rt. Rev. Poulson Reed, VI Bishop of Oklahoma, has contracted COVID-19 and is resting comfortably at home, he announced in a message to the diocese on March 9. He reported having “some symptoms of illness,” but said he intended to work from home during a 10-day quarantine.
“I’m glad for your prayers, but ask them especially for those far more affected than I in our state. Please get your vaccinations, and continue to mask up. We are making progress in this fight, but are no means at the end,” he wrote.
He is the third Episcopal bishop known to have contracted COVID-19. In January, TLC reported that the Rt. Rev. Rob Wright, X Bishop of Atlanta, and the Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, retired III Bishop of Southeast Florida, had been diagnosed with the disease. Both have recovered, and only Frade required hospitalization. He has since gone home, according to the diocese.
Bishop Barbara Harris
[Episcopal News Service]
One year after the death of the Anglican Communion’s first female bishop, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to prevent the kind of in-person memorial service befitting her stature in The Episcopal Church, but celebrations of the life of the Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris will be held virtually in the coming days around the church.
Harris, who served as suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts from 1989 to 2002 and assisting bishop in the Diocese of Washington from 2003 to 2007, died at age 89 on March 13, 2020, just as the COVID-19 outbreak began to prompt lockdowns in the United States. Her remains were interred in Pennsylvania in a small, private ceremony. At the time, the diocese announced that public memorial services would be held at Washington National Cathedral and the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston when travel and indoor gathering restrictions were lifted. Those plans are still pending, according to the Diocese of Massachusetts.
Online services are planned by the Cathedral of Boston, the Union of Black Episcopalians, the Diocese of Western Massachusetts, and the Diocese of Los Angeles. Details are available at Episcopal News Service.