Home Christian News The Episcopal Church Announces Four Candidates for Presiding Bishop

The Episcopal Church Announces Four Candidates for Presiding Bishop

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Bishop J. Scott Barker of the Diocese of Nebraska, from left, Bishop Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Bishop Sean Rowe of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Diocese of Western New York, and Bishop Robert Wright of the Diocese of Atlanta. (Courtesy photos)

(RNS) — Four candidates have been selected to stand for election as the 28th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the denomination’s highest office. The nominees include Bishop J. Scott Barker of the Diocese of Nebraska, Bishop Daniel G. P. Gutiérrez of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, Bishop Sean Rowe of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Diocese of Western New York and Bishop Robert Wright of the Diocese of Atlanta.

The vote to select the next presiding bishop will be held in June to succeed Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, whose nine-year term concludes on Oct. 31.

The election is scheduled for June 26 at the denomination’s General Convention, which will take place in Louisville, Kentucky, this year. The House of Bishops will elect the next presiding bishop in a sequestered session, and the House of Deputies, a second voting body of the General Convention made of clergy and lay deputies, will confirm or refuse the bishops’ election.

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Bishop Ian T. Douglas, retired bishop of Connecticut and a former candidate for presiding bishop, said the next presiding bishop will need courage and imagination to lead a church that’s “gone from mainstream to the margins.”

The biggest challenges the next presiding bishop faces, he said, include restoring community among the House of Bishops, which has been difficult in a post-COVID-19 era; deepening relationships with the Anglican Communion amid broader tensions over human sexuality; revitalizing the church’s governance; and building trust in the Title IV process, the denomination’s policy for addressing clergy misconduct.

“I believe the next presiding bishop absolutely needs to be focused first and foremost … on the restoring and reconciling action of God and Jesus through the Holy Spirit in all aspects of society,” he told Religion News Service. “In doing so, the church will be revived.”

Douglas, commending the search committee’s faithfulness and hard work, said that all four individuals bring different gifts and backgrounds and believes each can do the job.

Bishop J. Scott Barker of the Diocese of Nebraska. (Courtesy photo)

Barker, born and raised in Omaha, was ordained as bishop in 2011. He has a B.A. in religious studies from Yale College and an M.Div. from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. In a video posted on the General Convention website, Barker said the “idea of carrying the cross of Jesus” is one that resonates with him in this moment in the life of the church.

“[T]he fact that that reminds us of the person of Jesus and his sacrifice that saved humankind and continues to be the heart of the gospel that we preach feels really important as we talk about endeavors for this moment in the life of the church and imagining our futures together,” he said.

Gutiérrez was ordained in 2016 as the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania’s 16th bishop. Born in New Mexico, Gutiérrez was chief of staff to the mayor of Albuquerque before studying at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, and taking a master’s degree in theological studies from St. Norbert College.

“I am not your typical Episcopal bishop,” he said in his video on the General Convention website. “I’m a poor Chicano from the wrong side of the tracks, who had to endure, learn resilience, and then live, love and compassion. The love of Jesus Christ and faithful people gave me hope, and I must share it with everyone that I meet.”

Bishop Sean Rowe of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Diocese of Western New York. (Courtesy photo)

Bishop Sean Rowe of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Diocese of Western New York. (Courtesy photo)

Rowe has been bishop of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania since 2007 and became bishop provisional of Western New York in 2019. He was born in Sharon, Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Grove City College and of Virginia Theological Seminary. He also has a Ph.D. in organizational learning and leadership from Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania.