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PB-Elect Chooses a Simpler Installation

The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe will be installed as the 28th Presiding Bishop in a “smaller, simpler” ceremony in the Episcopal Church Center’s Chapel of Christ the Lord rather than Washington National Cathedral.

It is a break with a tradition that dates back to 1938, when the installation service for the Rt. Rev. Henry St. George Tucker, the 19th Presiding Bishop, was held in the still-uncompleted cathedral. Tucker was the last presiding bishop to continue the exercise of his ministry as a diocesan bishop, and served as Bishop of Virginia from 1927 to 1943.

Rowe, who assumes his position on November 1, said the service will mark the beginning of the Episcopal Church’s journey into a “new future.” He has spoken of the need to streamline the church’s budget and redirect resources in support of dioceses and local ministries.

The installation will be livestreamed, and interpretation will be made available in multiple languages.

“With gratitude to all involved, I have decided to begin this ministry in a new way,” Rowe said in a press release June 28. “With a simple service at the Church Center that will include everyone via livestream, we can care for God’s creation by reducing our collective carbon footprint.”

In 1941, General Convention established Washington National Cathedral as the seat of the Presiding Bishop, and three side-by-side cathedra, or bishop’s thrones, are located in the cathedral’s Great Choir. The Glastonbury Cathedra, the central throne, is constructed of stones from Glastonbury Abbey, the legendary birthplace of Christianity in Britain. Separate thrones for the presiding bishop and the Bishop of Washington are located on either side of the Glastonbury Cathedra.  Rowe has indicated that a schedule to mark his seating in the cathedra will be scheduled in the early days of his ministry.

“I have great respect and admiration for the ministry of Washington National Cathedral. My seating will take place in the following months, and I am grateful to Dean [Randolph] Hollerith and the cathedral staff as we plan for that event.”

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington, said of the decision:

“We in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and Washington National Cathedral wholeheartedly support Presiding Bishop-elect Rowe in his desire for an installation experience that is accessible to all and wisely stewards the technologies that are available to us. We look forward to the day of his seating at the cathedral, and we will celebrate that occasion with great joy.”

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