By Kirk Petersen
The Diocese of New Jersey has announced a slate of five candidates to become the 13th Bishop of New Jersey, succeeding the Rt. Rev. William “Chip” Stokes, who will retire in June 2023 after serving since 2013. The candidates include two parish priests, a cathedral dean, and two diocesan canons:
- The Rev. Canon Dr. Dena Cleaver-Bartholomew, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Rhode Island
- The Rev. Canon Dr. Sally French, canon for regional ministry and collaborative innovation, Diocese of North Carolina
- The Very Rev. Troy Mendez, dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona (Diocese of Arizona)
- The Rev. Janine Schenone, rector, Good Samaritan Episcopal Church, San Diego, California (Diocese of San Diego)
- The Rev. Dr. Mauricio Jose Wilson, rector, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Oakland, California (Diocese of California)
The October 30 announcement touched off a 30-day period during which additional nominations may be made through a petition process, which closes at 5 p.m. on November 29. Meet-and-greet meetings will begin in early January 2023, with an electing convention scheduled for January 28. The new bishop is scheduled to be consecrated on June 24.
Cleaver-Bartholomew is a graduate of Yale Divinity School, and has two additional graduate degrees from Emory University. She is married to a United Church of Christ minister. She was born into a military family in France and has lived in 11 states, and served as a priest in six dioceses: Atlanta, Los Angeles, Michigan, Ohio, Central New York, and Rhode Island, where she has been the bishop’s chief of staff since 2017.
French grew up in Toronto in a secular home, and was baptized, confirmed and sponsored for ordination through campus ministries at the University of Toronto, where she received both her undergraduate degree and her master’s of divinity. She has an additional graduate degree from Virginia Theological Seminary. Before joining the bishop’s staff in 2020, she served churches in North Carolina, New York, and the Canadian province of Alberta.
Mendez has been dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Phoenix since 2014, and previously served congregations in California. He is a 2009 graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary, and has served on the seminary’s board of trustees since 2013. Before answering a call to priesthood, he spent a decade in sales and marketing, and held managerial positions at Delta Air Lines and General Mills.
Schenone grew up Catholic, being told she could not be a priest because she was female. She joined the Episcopal Church as an adult after seeing a female priest distribute Communion. She raised a daughter alone after being divorced by her husband, and has lived out a vow of celibacy since 2004. She is a Third Order Franciscan, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, worked as a technical writer before the priesthood, and has served congregations in New York and California.
Wilson is a lifelong Anglican and Episcopalian whose father was the Anglican Bishop of Costa Rica and presiding bishop of the Province of Central America. After training and working as an accountant in Costa Rica, he obtained his master’s of divinity from General Theological Seminary in New York, and has two additional graduate theological degrees. He served churches in Costa Rica and New York before taking his current role in California in 2009.
The Diocese of New Jersey has its see city in Trenton, and shares the state with the Diocese of Newark, the latter of which encompasses the densely populated northern third of the state. The Diocese of New Jersey included the entire state when it was formed in 1785 as one of the nine original dioceses of the Episcopal Church. It currently has 144 congregations, and its 2020 membership of 34,788 makes it the 12th-largest domestic diocese.