BI church hosts regional event to pick new bishop

Grace Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Island hosted a regional gathering May 1 to hear from four candidates in the running to become the next bishop for the Olympic Diocese.

The new bishop will follow Gregory H. Rickel, who retired in 2022.

The nominees are: The Rev. Philip N. LaBelle, rector of St. Mark’s Church in Southborough, Mass.; the Rev. Dr. Hillary D. Raining, rector of St. Christopher’s Church, Gladwyne, Penn.; the Ven.Jordan Haynie Ware, archdeacon for justice in the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, and rector of Good Shepherd Anglican Church Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; and the Rev. Kate E. Wesch, rector of St John’s Church, Essex, Conn.

Speaking to a full church or clergy, deacons, wardens, lay ministers and parishioners visiting from Poulsbo, Silverdale, Bremerton and other surrounding committees, each candidate spoke for 20 minutes sharing their theological, social and environmental beliefs about adversity, climate change and faith formation.

LaBelle shared his views on liturgy. He said, “Don’t ignore the Book of Prayer.” He also said that liturgy is the work of the people. Raining referenced the beauty of the Pacific Northwest sharing her thoughts that spirituality is best felt in nature. She said, “Heaven and earth come together like Legos.” The final two nominees addressed the emotional strength of a church. Wesch suggested, “We meet people where they are and invite them to do more.” Ware was touched by her visit to the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial on BI, having deep-seated beliefs about the need to heal wounds and work together.

The Diocese will hold a convention May 18 in Seattle where the new bishop will be named. Six delegates from Grace Church, along with the Rev. Eric Mason, will be part of Grace’s voting members.

Historically, bishops stand in a long line of apostles, those appointed to carry out the work and teaching of Jesus. His 12 disciples, then passed on their authority to their disciples by laying hands on them. In turn, those disciples then laid hands on their disciples, passing on the tradition to the next appointed disciples. The bishop’s spiritual authority comes from this apostolic succession.