April 2, 2019
The big day has nearly arrived. On Sunday afternoon at a special service at St. Paul’s Cathedral, I will pass the crozier to Bishop Sean Rowe and retire as your bishop. It will be a bittersweet day for me, because my heart will be full of thanksgiving for our ministry and joy at what we have accomplished, but I will also be sad that our time together is finished so soon.
From the beginning of my time as your bishop, I have worked to be active in our parishes, relating closely to you and encouraging your ministry. All of our congregations are precious, and I have been grateful to help nurture the seeds of new life that you have planted in so many places. We have been especially successful at recruiting outstanding clergy to join us in Western New York, and their leadership will help sustain the vitality I see in so many congregations for years to come.
My episcopate has coincided with the resurgence of Buffalo, and together we have created outreach and social justice ministries that are helping to foster the economic renewal of the region and care for those who have been left behind. I am particularly proud of our work toward racial reconciliation, which has been made possible by the wisdom and faithfulness of many African American leaders, several of whom also serve the wider church as members of Executive Council and deputies to General Convention. We have taken an active role in the Racial Equity Roundtable, and have partnered with African American clergy leaders in other traditions to foster racial healing and end systemic racism. We have also begun the long journey of healing and reconciliation with our Native American community, and I am especially grateful to the people of Good Shepherd, Irving, who have helped me to see and understand the place of Native American people in our church and our communities.
In the same spirit of reconciliation, our support for same-sex marriage and care for LGBTQ people has helped the Episcopal Church move forward despite some difficult times in our denomination. We Episcopalians support full inclusion not in spite of our faith, but because of it, and I am proud that we are known in our communities for welcoming all of God’s children.
Our greatest accomplishment together may be this: In the spirit of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, a son of our diocese, we have become unafraid to talk about Jesus. I served on the Joint Nominating Committee to Elect a Presiding Bishop in 2015 when Presiding Bishop Curry was elected, and I have been so proud to be a diocesan bishop under his leadership. His commitment to the Jesus Movement and the Way of Love continue to help me and all of us speak unapologetically about our faith and its power in our lives and communities.
Our years together have been a time of change, and our efforts to face it with courage and excitement have culminated in your historic decision to explore a partnership with the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and to choose Bishop Sean Rowe as your bishop provisional. Your willingness to embark on this adventure means that I am leaving with a sense of hope and excitement about your future.
Serving as your bishop has been one of the great joys and privileges of my life. My love for you and for Buffalo and this region will stay with me forever. As I embark on my own next chapter—where I will serve as assisting bishop in the Diocese of Long Island, teach at Episcopal Divinity School at Union, and continue my churchwide service as vice chair of the Board of the Archives, chair of the Task Force to Coordinate Ecumenical and Interreligious Work, and as a member of the House of Bishops Theology Committee—you can be sure that you will have my prayers and full support for all that lies ahead.
May the blessing and peace of God, Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, be upon you, and remain with you forever.