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Three Candidates Named in WV Bishop Election

The Rev. Canon S. Abbot Bailey, the Diocese of Virginia’s interim canon to the ordinary; the Rev. Canon Patrick Collins, the Diocese of Easton’s canon to the ordinary; and the Rev. Matthew Cowden, rector of St. Michael and All Angels’ in South Bend, Indiana, are candidates for the election of the bishop coadjutor of West Virginia, diocesan officials announced August 2. The electing convention to designate a successor to the Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer will be held on September 25.

Bailey, 52, was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and was ordained to the priesthood in 2005 after graduating from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. She served parishes in the dioceses of Connecticut and Virginia before becoming the Diocese of California’s canon to the ordinary in 2018. In May, she moved to Virginia to serve as interim canon to the ordinary.

Collins, 56, is a native of northern Virginia and a graduate of General Seminary. He was ordained in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania in 2006, served two parishes there, and was the bishop’s assistant for transition ministry. He became canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Easton in 2016, and also serves as priest in charge of All Faith Church in Tunis Mills, Maryland. His wife, the Rev. Loretta Collins, also serves a parish in the Diocese of Easton

Cowden, 52, was born in Washington D.C., and prepared for the ministry at Virginia Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 2006 in the Diocese of Southeast Florida, and served in the Diocese of Virginia before becoming rector of St. Michael’s in 2009. He is currently the chair of the standing committee of the Diocese of Northern Indiana and a trainer in its Diocesan-Congregational Development Institute. He was also a deputy from the diocese to General Convention. Cowden and his wife Melissa are the parents of three children.

Additional nominations by petition will be received through this Thursday, August 6. The consecration of the bishop coadjutor is scheduled for March 12, 2022. He or she will become the diocese’s VIII Bishop six months later.

The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, who has served as West Virginia’s bishop since 2001, announced on July 31 that he will resign from his episcopate on October 13, 2022, the 21st anniversary of his consecration.

Klusmeyer, 65, said in his announcement, “I have experienced God in the faces and voices of the people of the diocese. Each time I stand at the altar, celebrate Eucharist with the people, drive through this beautiful state of West Virginia, I see God’s presence.”

Under his leadership, the diocese has focused on responding to racism and injustice, working closely with multifaith leaders to advocate for refugees in the state and setting up a mobile health clinic based in Lewisburg and the Highland Educational Project in McDowell County. It also responded boldly to the opioid epidemic, becoming the first church group authorized to distribute the overdose remedy Narcan, and sponsoring coaching and recovery programs for the addicted.

The Diocese of West Virginia, which comprises the entire state, has 63 churches and about 8,000 members, and is based in Charleston, the state capital. The oldest church in the diocese, Morgan Chapel, near Bunker Hill, was established in 1740.


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