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  • Writer's pictureBrad Mathias

September 2021 -Northeast Anglican

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As I write this Michaelmas letter to you, I pray that your Summer vacations have offered the necessary time for rest and reflection. Clergy are especially in need of time away, time that is best spent in contempla-tion and the time honored and very active practice of (as one wise cleric put it) “porch sitting.” Porch sitting is best accomplished with the use of a good rocking chair. Though I am not sure that Jesus ever used a rocking chair, which may not have been invented during his day, I am sure he would have approved of its practical use. Jesus teaches the important lesson it is in rest and reflection that we renew our bodies and our spirit for the vital work of serving His mission. Given His example, who are we to presume that a 24/7 schedule is always the way to go.

Though your bishop and the dedicated clergy of our diocese certainly do work very busy schedules tending to the many needs of our parishes, we are fortunate to have several “supply” and associated clergy who are available to cover for vacationing priests – and bishops. Many thanks to all who have served our parishes so well during the Summer months.

Despite the generally relaxed atmosphere that we often experience during the Summer months, Bishop Webb and I, along with Father Christian Tutor, traveled to Hollywood, California for the consecration of Bishop William Bower to the epis-copate. The consecration ceremony was held at St. Mary of the Angels Anglican Church. Archbishop Juan Garcia was chief consecrator. Bishop Owen Williams and I served as co-consecrators. It was wonderful to see St. Mary's once again serve as the setting for a beautiful ceremony. Bishop Bower will serve as Suffragan Bishop to The Rt. Rev. Owen Williams, who is Bishop Ordinary of the ACA Dio-cese of the West.

Two weeks after the consecration of Bishop Bower, Bishop Webb and I flew to Atlanta, Georgia for the retirement of Bishop Walter Grundorf and the subsequent enthronement of Bishop Chandler Holder (Chad) Jones as Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of America. It was a privilege to be present for these moving ceremo-nies. It should be remembered that Bishop Walter Grundorf was the first Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of America and one of the four bishops of the Anglican Joint Synods to sign the communio in sacris agreement in 2017. During his retirement dinner, Bishop Grundorf was presented the first Bishop Albert Chambers award by the other three bishops who signed that historic agree-ment. The presentation was a very moving tribute to a bishop who had faithfully served the cause of the Anglican Continuum.

+NEA 2021-09 clr
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For those who may not be aware, Bishop Albert Chambers was a retired bishop of the Episcopal Church. He served as chief consecrator of the “Denver four”, the first bishops of the Anglican Continuum. Though his action, Bishop Chambers ensured that the bishops of the G4 churches would forever hold regular and valid Apostolic orders.

We congratulate Bishop Grundorf's successor, Bishop Chad Jones, upon his elevation to the office of Presiding Bishop and know he will serve the APA and the Anglican Joint Synods with dedication and grace. The transition between Bishop Grundorf and Bishop Jones was accomplished smoothly and with grace and dignity.

Smooth and effective transitions should be the goal of every transition within God's Holy Church, whether it is the transition between priests at the parish level, diocesan bishops or the office of presiding at the national level. A year and a half ago, Bishop Juan Garcia was enthroned as Presiding Bishop of the ACA after my own nine year term had elapsed. The transition between Bishop Garcia and myself was virtually seamless and the work of the church continued apace.

Transitions between bishops should, for the spiritual health of the church, be accomplished with good order. Though the transitions between Bishop Jones and Bishop Grundorf and between Bishop Garcia and myself were very smooth indeed, such transitions do not always occur. The recent death of Bishop Stephen Strawn, as well as the abrupt retirement of Bishop John Vaughan, has left two of our five dioceses without resident bishops. In such circumstances, Episcopal Visitors are appointed to maintain the ministry of the church and provide guidance to God's people. Bishop Garcia will, during this interim period, serve as Episcopal Visitor to the Diocese of the Eastern United States. Our own Bishop Webb will serve as Episcopal Visitor to the Diocese of the Missouri Valley until an episcopal election is held in that diocese.

Given the vital importance of good transitions in the life of the church, I have called for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor. Though I am fortunate to be in very good health and have no immediate retirement plans, I believe very strongly that the Diocese of the Northeast should never be left without the vital ministry of a Bishop Ordinary. Some have noted our diocese already has a Bishop Suffragan and wondered why we would need a coadjutor. A Bishop Coadjutor, it should be emphasized, has the right of succession in the event of the retirement or incapacitation of the Bishop Ordinary. A Bishop Suffragan is an assistant bishop and has no such right of succession.

As we plan for the election of a Bishop Coadjutor, I ask your prayers for our diocese, for the candidates who will stand for election and that the Holy Spirit may guide the election process.

-----Your Brother in Christ, +Brian

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