By Kirk Petersen
Five weeks after the Rt. Rev. Prince Singh announced he would be stepping down as Bishop of Rochester, he has been nominated as the sole candidate for bishop provisional for the Dioceses of Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan.
The two Michigan dioceses will hold an up-or-down vote on the nomination at a joint annual convention October 29-30, and if approved Singh would move to Michigan in February 2022. His last day leading the Diocese of Rochester will be February 2, which will be the 14th anniversary of his election as bishop.
Also on October 30, the annual convention of the Diocese of Rochester will vote on ratifying the nomination of the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, to serve as bishop provisional upon Singh’s departure. Lane retired as Bishop of Maine in 2019. The Standing Committee announced Lane’s nomination on October 5, less than three weeks after Singh announced he would be leaving.
While it may seem like changes are happening at breakneck speed (by diocesan standards), the timeline actually is a bit more sedate than it may appear. Singh said he had been in discussions for some time with the Standing Committee about his plans to retire, before making a public announcement September 16.
And at the time he was elected Bishop of Maine, Lane was serving as canon for deployment and ministry development for the Diocese of Rochester, making him a familiar candidate for bishop provisional.
Still, time has been fleeting. “I didn’t expect that something like this would come up so quickly, but it did,” Singh told TLC by telephone, referring to the Michigan opportunity. “And so I trust in the Spirit, and I trust in the guidance and leadership of our presiding bishop and his staff, so I said I would be open to it. So here we are.”
The dioceses of Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan agreed to share a bishop and other staff in 2019, an arrangement that could lead to a reunion. Western Michigan was spun off from the Diocese of Michigan in 1874, and Eastern Michigan was created in 1994. The Rt. Rev. Whayne Hoagland was serving both dioceses when he was suspended in June 2020 after admitting to an extramarital affair. He resigned in June 2021 as he neared the end of his suspension.
The Standing Committee said that while the two dioceses continue discerning their future, “Bishop Singh would serve both Eastern and Western Michigan on a full-time basis for a period of up to 3-5 years.” A bishop provisional has all the authority and privileges of a bishop diocesan, but does not have tenure.
There are four dioceses in the state of Michigan. The others are Northern Michigan, which serves the geographically isolated Upper Peninsula, and Michigan, which serves Detroit and nearby counties.
It has been an eventful year for Singh, who in May escaped uninjured when a fire destroyed his home in suburban Perinton, New York.
“It happened so quickly, I was inside the house, on a Zoom call, and heard some crackling noise, so I went to check,” Singh said. “I realized it was coming from the garage, and when I opened the garage door, it was already fully enflamed.” He added, “the insurance company suspects that it was a lithium battery that self-combusted.”
Singh left the house carrying only his cell phone, his laptop, and his guitar, which had been sitting next to the front door.
“All my vestments were destroyed, including my crozier,” he said. “The presiding bishop sent me his spare vestments that week, I was so moved.”
Ironically, the Sunday after the fire was Pentecost — when tongues of fire appeared above the heads of the disciples. “I didn’t have to preach, I just had to show up,” he said with a laugh.
Upper South Carolina
The Very Rev. Daniel P. Richards was elected the IX Bishop of Upper South Carolina at a special convention on September 25, the diocese announced. Richards, an Arizona priest and former Baptist minister, was elected on the fifth ballot from a slate of five candidates.
The bishop-elect currently serves as rector of Christ Church of the Ascension in Paradise Valley, Arizona, and as dean of the East Phoenix Deanery of the Diocese of Arizona, which encompasses most of the state.
Richards grew up in Mississippi and Tennessee before moving to Phoenix with his family for his high school years. He graduated from Grand Canyon University in 1994, and in 1996 was ordained a minister in the Southern Baptist Church. He promptly left the Baptist church to become a youth and young adult coordinator for the Diocese of Arizona, and was confirmed as an Episcopalian in 1997. He graduated from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California, in 2003, and was ordained that same year as a deacon and later a priest.
The other candidates were:
- The Rev. Furman L. Buchanan, rector, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Greenville, South Carolina, in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina
- The Rev. D. Seth Donald, rector, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Lake Charles, Louisiana, in the Diocese of Western Louisiana
- The Rev. Lonnie Lacy, rector, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia, in the Diocese of Georgia
- The Rev. R. Jemonde Taylor, rector, St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, Raleigh, North Carolina, in the Diocese of North Carolina
It was a rare all-male slate of candidates, in an era when all-female slates have become more common.
Assuming he receives the necessary consents from a majority of diocesan bishops and standing committees, Richards will be consecrated Bishop of Upper South Carolina on February 26, 2022. He will succeed the Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, who has served since 2010.
The Diocese of Upper South Carolina includes 59 churches with 22,000 members, and serves the northwest half of the state, with the Diocese of South Carolina serving the remainder.