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Massachusetts, Olympia Elect New Bishops

Two coastal dioceses elected bishops on May 18, and both chose leaders from considerable distances. The Diocese of Massachusetts elected the Rev. Julia E. Whitworth, rector of Trinity Church in Indianapolis, as its 17th bishop. The Diocese of Olympia elected the Rev. Philip N. LaBelle, rector of St. Mark’s Church in Southborough (Diocese of Massachusetts), as its ninth bishop.

Both elections were settled on the fourth ballot, and both bishops-elect led from the first ballot.

In Massachusetts, Whitworth led the first ballot among clergy and tied with the Very Rev. Gideon L.K. Pollach, rector of St. John’s Church, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, among laity. By the second ballot, Whitworth led in both orders. She has served as rector at Trinity for nearly eight years.

“As rector of Trinity Church in Indianapolis I now lead a staff, pastor a congregation, and manage a campus with two independent schools and four secular not-for-profits which serve our neighbors lacking food, educational equity, and legal representation,” Whitworth wrote in her profile. “Under my leadership we incubated a new intentional community for young adults and Trinity Haven, the first dedicated residence for LGBTQ+ youth in Indiana. I am passionate about bringing people and institutions together to dream, strategize, and implement new ways to serve our community, as well as identifying and encouraging new leaders, ordained and lay, for the Church.”

Whitworth is an alumna of Dartmouth College, the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and Union Theological Seminary. She was ordained a priest in 2010.

In addition to Pollach, the other nominees in Massachusetts were the Rev. Dr. Brendan J. Barnicle, rector of St. Francis of Assisi Church, Wilsonville, Oregon; the Rev. Edwin Daniél Johnson, director of organizing, Episcopal City Mission, Boston; and the Rev. Canon Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa, Th.D., the diocese’s canon for immigration and multicultural ministries.

In the Diocese of Olympia, the election was between LaBelle and the Rev. Dr. Hillary D. Raining, rector of St. Christopher’s Church in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, from the first ballot.

In addition to Raining, other nominees were the Ven. Jordan Haynie Ware, archdeacon for justice in the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, Canada, and rector of Good Shepherd Church, Edmonton; and the Rev. Kate E. Wesch, rector of St. John’s Church in Essex, Connecticut.

LaBelle’s profile said that in June he “will receive his Doctor of Ministry from Fuller Seminary focused on Christian Spirituality. His thesis work explores the theology and practice of zimzum and how to make space in our overly busy lives for God, others, and the natural world. He received his M.Div. from Yale University in 2004, along with a diploma in Anglican Studies from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. He holds a master’s degree in composition and rhetoric from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in English with an additional concentration in theological studies from Gordon College. He has also received certificates in congregational development and religious fundraising.”

LaBelle was ordained a priest in 2005.


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