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PB-Elect: ‘We Are Standing Firm in the Midst’

The Closing Eucharist of the 81st General Convention was both a hello and a farewell — hello to Sean Rowe as the newly elected 28th Presiding Bishop-elect and a farewell to retiring 27th Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

“It’s a great day in the kingdom,” Rowe said in his sermon, using a phrase he has favored throughout his 17 years as a bishop.

“The early church is struggling,” Rowe said about the day’s Epistle reading, Ephesians 6:10-18. “Paul is undertaking his third mission to Ephesus,” followed by his trip to Asia. “Paul being Paul, he just keeps talking, he keeps bringing the good news.”

Comparing St. Paul’s time to today, Rowe said, “The powers of evil are real in the world. We are living in a world where these are very much alive.”

Calling the Episcopal Church “small,” Rowe said, but “We’re not struggling to survive.”

“We are standing firm in the midst. We are holding fast to LGBTQ.

“We are not backing down on our proclamation of the gospel because other people understand it differently or are bigger or think they are more powerful or louder.”

But, he said, “The battle is not yet done.” He believes the church must face the sin of racism and “the internal strife that divides us.”

He asked, “If we can’t figure it out in here, how can we carry it out in the world?”

Rowe cited church processes, a topic he has addressed previously at this General Convention. “How about our attachment to the ways that no longer serve us?” he asked, citing the “idolatry of structures and practices that exclude and diminish our witness.”

“We have to get it together,” he said. “We need to let go of our grievances. We need to have hard conversations with love and respect.”

Rowe honored the retiring Presiding Bishop. “Thanks be to God, the church in our day has been given Michael Bruce Curry. Through our brother Michael, God has shown us again what the power of love can do.

“Michael Curry’s legacy of love and the legacy of God in Jesus Christ is ours and we must hammer out the dents in the armor.”

The service began with the Prayer of the Four Directions, led by the Rev. Leon Samson of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland. With the congregation facing each direction during the prayer, Sampson said, “Bless us all from the east, south, west, north, below us, above us, and within us. Amen.”

The Eucharist concluded with a stirring and reverent singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

Continuing with the commitment to the church’s diversity, the prayers, music, and intercessions were presented in English, Spanish, and other languages.

Rowe was elected the 28th Presiding Bishop by the House of Bishops on June 26 and was overwhelmingly confirmed by the House of Deputies. He will assume his new position on November 1.

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