Bp. Roundup: Va., Conn., C. & SW. Fla., W. Texas, Idaho

Virginia

After considering petitions, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Virginia elected not to add any candidates for the June 4 election. This leaves a rare white-male-only slate of four candidates, which has caused some consternation in the diocese.

Shortly after the slate was announced, Diocese of Virginia Suffragan Bishop Susan Goff felt it necessary to issue an extraordinary message about the “800-pound gorilla in the room.”

“This slate as currently composed has become a lightning rod for deep issues facing both the Diocese of Virginia and the entire Church,” she wrote. “Our anxieties about diversity, race, sex, gender, Covid losses, economic uncertainty, changes in church attendance and other issues have latched on to this slate, making it the latest repository of our fears.”

The candidates were “presented by the diverse Search Committee to our diverse Standing Committee,” she added. Goff is retiring at the end of the year after serving as the ecclesiastical authority since 2018. The four previously announced candidates are the Rev. Joseph H. Hensley, Jr., the Rev. Canon Alan C. James, the Very Rev. Gideon L. K. Pollach, and the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson.

Connecticut

The Diocese of Connecticut announced a nominee by petition for its upcoming bishop election, the Rev. Whitney Altopp, rector of St. Stephen’s, Ridgefield, Connecticut. Ordained in 2002, Altopp served parishes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania before becoming rector of St. Stephens in 2012. She worked as a youth director before beginning her studies for ministry at General Theological Seminary, and is the co-founder of Global Philanthropy Leaders, a youth program focused on microfinance. In the diocese, she helped to launch the first Happening youth retreat and is serving on a diocesan working group focused on safeguarding issues. Altopp and her husband, Michael, have four children.

Altopp joins four other previously announced candidates – the Rev. Glenna Huber, the Rev. Jeffrey Mello, the Very Rev. Kate Moorhead, and the Rev. Canon Tanya Wallace – on the slate to choose a successor to the Rt. Rev. Ian Douglas, the diocese’s fifteenth bishop. The special electing convention is scheduled for May 21.

Central Florida

The Diocese of Central Florida released the profile calling for nominations for its fifth bishop on May 1. The diocese, one of six currently led by a Communion Partner bishop, says “we are seeking a Christ-centered, prayerful individual committed to faithful preaching and teaching. The majority of our diocese desires a bishop who loves the Scriptures and adheres to a traditional interpretation of the Bible in faith and morals.”

Nominations will be received through May 31, and the electing convention is scheduled for January 14, 2023. The new bishop will succeed the Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer, who has served as bishop for the last 10 years.

Southwest Florida

The Rt. Rev. Dabney T. Smith has announced that he will retire at the end of 2022, in part for health reasons. He has multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that affects white blood cells, and can cause bone deterioration and kidney problems, among other things. In a message to the diocese, Smith said he recently suffered a broken leg, the third broken bone in six years.  His eventual successor, the Rev. Dr. Douglas F. Scharf, was elected bishop coadjutor in April, and is scheduled to be consecrated in September.

West Texas

The Rt. Rev. David Reed, who turned 65 in March, announced to his diocese April 27 that he plans to retire “in the latter part of 2023.” Reed has served in the diocese of 85 congregations since 2006, first as suffragan, then as coadjutor, and since 2017, as diocesan bishop. Reed plans to call for the election of a bishop coadjutor and to announce the date for an election in mid-May.

The Diocese of West Texas, one of six located at least partly in the state, is centered on San Antonio and has a territory that includes 60 counties in Southern and Central Texas. Despite its name, the diocese does not include the westernmost portion of the state, the nine counties around El Paso, which along with the State of New Mexico comprise the Diocese of the Rio Grande.

Idaho

The Rev. Jos Tharakan, Bishop-elect of Idaho has received the necessary consents from bishops and standing committees, and will be consecrated by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on June 25 at the Cathedral of the Rockies, a United Methodist Church in Boise.

— Mark Michael and Kirk Petersen

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