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The Episcopal Church elect The Rt Rev Sean Rowe as the 28th Presiding Bishop

Posted on: June 26, 2024 2:44 PM
The Rt Rev. Sean Rowe has been elected as the 28th Presiding Bishop of TEC
Photo Credit: Randall Gornowich for TEC

The Episcopal Church’s General Convention has elected The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, bishop of Northwest Pennsylvania and bishop provisional of Western New York, to be its 28th presiding bishop and primate.  His election was confirmed on June 26 in Louisville, Kentucky by the House of Deputies at the 81st General Convention, TEC’s governing body. The deputies confirmed him with a nearly unanimous majority, 95% in favour.

Rowe will begin his nine-year term as the public face and voice of The Episcopal Church on 1st November. He will succeed current Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who was installed in 2015.

He was elected from a shortlist of five nominees from across TEC, which also included: the Right Reverend J. Scott Barker, of the Diocese of Nebraska; the Right Reverend Daniel G. P. Gutierrez of the Diocese of Pennsylvania; the Right Reverend Robert Wright of the Diocese of Atlanta; and the Right Reverend DeDe Duncan-Probe of the Diocese of Central New York.

To be elected, Rowe needed at least 82 votes from the 158 bishops who cast handwritten ballots. He received 89 votes, while Barker received 24, Wright received 19, Gutierrez received 17 and Duncan-Probe received 9.

The election followed a lengthy period of prayer and discernment across the whole of TEC, including a churchwide survey, dozens of interviews with current and past presiding bishops, church leaders and staff, and extensive conversation and prayer among the Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB). The process concluded that the successful nominee must be “a presiding bishop for our times”—reflecting TEC’s concerns about the environment, conflict, and inequality and division, while possessing three key characteristics: strong leadership, a love of preaching and communicating, and faithfulness.

The Right Reverend Sean W. Rowe has led the Erie-based Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania since 2007, and he also serves as bishop provisional of the Diocese of Western New York through a partnership the dioceses established in 2019. He previously served as bishop provisional of the Diocese of Bethlehem from 2014 to 2018. Originally from western Pennsylvania, Rowe is a Virginia Theological Seminary graduate and was ordained to the priesthood in 2000 in Northwestern Pennsylvania, where he served in congregational ministry until his election as bishop. He currently serves as parliamentarian of the House of Bishops and Executive Council.

Rowe becomes the youngest bishop ever elected to serve as the church’s presiding bishop. He also was the youngest Episcopal priest in the U.S. when he was ordained, at age 24, and he was the youngest member of the House of Bishops when he was ordained and consecrated at age 32.

Bishop Anthony Poggo, Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, attended the General Convention in Louisville. Speaking following the announcement of Bishop Rowe’s election, he said: “It is an honour to be at the 81st General Convention, meeting with Anglican brothers and sisters from the Episcopal Church and hearing their hopes for the future of God’s Church. I am delighted that the General Convention has elected Bishop Sean Rowe as TEC’s new Presiding Bishop. I will be praying for him as he takes on the enormous privilege and responsibility of the role, and for Bishop Michael Curry in the transition period. I give thanks for the service of Bishop Michael over the last nine years and pray God’s blessings upon him for the next chapter of his life.”

Bishop Michael Curry, the 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, has sought to place evangelism at the center of the Episcopal Church and to speak often of Jesus. A descendant of enslaved Africans, Bishop Curry was the first African American presiding bishop. Among his priorities were racial justice, climate change, and immigration policy. A graduate of Yale Divinity School, he has published five books.