By Kirk Petersen
The Rev. Elizabeth Bonforte Gardner was elected the XI Bishop of Nevada in an online convention on Oct. 8.
Assuming she receives the necessary consents from a majority of Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction, she will be consecrated March 5, 2022, in Las Vegas. Gardner will become the second woman to lead the diocese. The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori was Bishop of Nevada before serving as the XXVI Presiding Bishop from 2006 to 2015. Along with the new Bishop of South Carolina (see below), she will continue what has become a flood of new female bishops in domestic dioceses. Of the 22 bishops consecrated in the United States since the beginning of 2019, 15 have been women.
Gardner was elected on the fourth ballot from a slate of four candidates, including three women and a Native American man. She will succeed the Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards, who served from 2008 until his retirement at the end of 2018. The other three candidates were:
- The Rev. Canon Holly Herring, canon precentor, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona
- The Rev. Julia McCray-Goldsmith, priest in charge, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, San Jose, California
- The Rev. Canon Robert Two Bulls, missioner for Indian work and multicultural ministries, Diocese of Minnesota, and vicar of All Saints Indian Mission, Minneapolis
“This discernment brought four wonderful, gifted candidates,” said the Rt. Rev. Jim Waggoner, the retired Bishop of Spokane who has served as part-time assisting bishop to the Diocese of Nevada since 2019.
The diocese originally planned to hold an election for Edwards’ successor in October 2018, but the election was postponed by the Standing Committee. The Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, who oversees bishop search processes churchwide, later said “the Standing Committee received additional information, that was not available to the nominating committee at the time of their decision, that called into question the suitability of one of the nominees.”
Bishop-Elect Gardner currently serves as rector of St. Mark’s in Alexandria, Va., where she co-founded Potomac Episcopal, a collaboration of four churches that banded together during the pandemic to expand pastoral and missional work in the community.
The Diocese of Nevada encompasses the entire state, and includes 29 congregations with a combined membership of 4,760.
The Rt. Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley was consecrated the XV Bishop of South Carolina on October 3, becoming the first full-time bishop diocesan to serve the diocese since 2012, when the XIV Bishop, Mark Lawrence, led a majority of the congregations of the diocese out of the Episcopal Church. She is also the first woman to lead the diocese.
In-person seating was limited at Grace Cathedral Church in Charleston because of pandemic concerns, but there were about 20 bishops in attendance, including Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry, who served as chief consecrator.
“My deep heart’s desire is that we begin a new season today of resurrection, hope, justice, and love in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina that will be a beacon for all,” said Woodliff-Stanley during the service. “I give you my heart, and I will give you my best each day, and I seek to walk with you, humbly, and with deep joy.”
She inherits a diocese that has been mired in property litigation for a decade, with half a billion dollars at stake in the value of historic churches and a large conference center. The state Supreme Court is scheduled to consider the case for a second time in December.
The Diocese of South Carolina shares the state with the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, and includes 31 congregations in the southwest half of the state, with total membership of 7,467.
In the Diocese of Rochester, where the Rt. Rev. Prince Singh recently announced he will retire in February 2022, has selected the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane as the sole candidate to stand for election as bishop provisional at the diocesan convention October 30. Lane retired as Bishop of Maine in 2019.
The diocese includes 51 churches with total membership of 7,410 in the west-central section of New York. It is one of six dioceses in the state.
Membership, attendance, and income data for every domestic church and diocese is available at the church’s interactive parochial report tool, which recently was updated with the results of the 2020 parochial report.