By the Very Rev. Dean Neal Michell
In 1839 on St. Patrick’s Day, when Texas was still a Republic, the first “foreign missionary bishop” from the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States of America crossed the Red River into Texas. Consecrated in 1838, Bishop Leonidas K. Polk was given charge of a vast area which included the Republic of Texas, the Indian territory, the state of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. He soon petitioned the Protestant Episcopal Church to subdivide the territory into more manageable missionary districts.
From 1838 to1845 the Episcopal Church existed in the Republic of Texas as a foreign missionary district, the first of the Episcopal Church. Texas was admitted to the Union in 1845.
In 1844, General Convention elected the Reverend George Washington Freeman to be the second Missionary Bishop of Arkansas, Texas, and the Indian Territory of the Southwest. Even with this vast territory, Bishop Freeman reported that there were approximately 80 communicants in the state of Arkansas and some 200 in Texas.
The Diocese of Texas organized in 1849 and elected Alexander Gregg as the first diocesan bishop after several elections and rejections of other candidates as bishop.
In May 1856, the first Episcopal service was held in the city of Dallas, led by the Rev. George Rottenstein, a German immigrant and former Roman Catholic and Methodist. This group of people grew in a short time and formed as the parish church of St. Matthew’s on September 21, 1857. The church fell into decline when Mr. Rottenstein was recalled to Louisiana and rebounded when he returned in 1865.
With the population growth due to immigration following the Civil War, it became clear that the diocese was too large to be served well by one bishop. The Diocese of Texas appealed to the General Convention in 1871 to be subdivided, but to no avail. Finally, in 1874, the request was granted, and the Missionary District of Northern Texas was formed—along with the Missionary District of Western Texas—out of the Diocese of Texas.
Three successive General Convention served as a battleground for fighting between the Evangelicals and the Anglo-Catholics; the Evangelical Catholics and the Catholic evangelicals; the high churchmen and the low churchmen. The internecine warfare was immobilizing the church. For three General Conventions the Episcopal Church had been focusing inwardly on the rituals to be permitted or disallowed in her churches. Finally, a memorial was passed outlawing such things as elevating the Elements in Holy Communion, and bowing, prostrating, or genuflecting which might be interpreted as an act of adoration toward the elements. The debate over the ritual canon was intense and lasted for several days.
Into this fray came Alexander Garrett, Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Omaha, Nebraska. A high churchman, he had come to the General Convention concerned not so much for high church-low church issues as he was that the church should make a more robust response to the missionary needs of the expanding West.
Preaching first at a missionary meeting in the Academy of Music in New York with 5,000 people present and later at Trinity Church, Wall Street, then later at the General Convention itself, Dean Garrett described the missionary needs of the far West and issued this plea:
There is no Gospel to be preached to these poor perishing sinners. There are no ministers to make known the glad tidings of salvation, to those thirty thousands. We have one clergyman to a hundred square miles of country, yes, I might say . . . to a hundred square miles of country. . . None to baptize those that need blessing, or to comfort those that are in sorrow. And will you brethren, sit under your vine and under your fig tree, enjoy all your benefits, reap all your rich harvest, fill your souls to overflowing with the blessings of life and immortality, and deny to others, that are dying for lack of them, the same share in the mercies which you yourselves enjoy? It cannot be done. You must supply them. Your hearts will answer, “We will.”
A few days later, Dean Garrett received a note stating that he had been nominated as Missionary Bishop of Northern Texas. He was then elected, and the focus of the General Convention shifted from ritualism to mission. The tide was turning from the inward focus on ritualism to the outward focus of mission. By 1880, the General Convention showed so few signs of party spirit and spent so much time in planning for the expansion of the church that one church historian called it “the missionary convention.”
Alexander Charles Garrett (1874-1924)
FIRST Bishop of Dallas
On the evening of December 20, 1874, the newly consecrated Bishop Alexander Charles Garrett and his wife, Leticia (Letty), were just getting situated in their room above the saloon in their new mission in Dallas when a pistol shot rang out in the saloon below. Lettie exclaimed that she was afraid that some poor fellow might be hurt. “Oh, no,” said Bishop Garrett assuredly, “that’s just the way these Texicans have of greeting newcomers.”
He went downstairs and learned that a man had, indeed, been shot and killed; and he conducted the funeral and buried the man the next day. Thus began what would become a 50-year ministry of Bishop Alexander Garrett.
At the time, Dallas was a town of about 7,000 souls. With the city limits at 2-1/2 miles, Dallas would become the most populous city in Texas when Jay Gould brought the train in 1881 to Dallas, one of the first cities in Texas to have the railroad running through it.
Bishop Alexander Garrett on Texans in the late 1800’s.
“If you insist upon gambling, and try to cheat in doing so, it is likely you will get shot. If you drink whisky with the drunken and become quarrelsome in your cups, it is possible you will get shot. Hence it is well for men to remember that Texas is not a place where you can act as you will—cheat, steal, lie, or commit adultery, and then be held quite harmless. No indeed. They may not wait for the law to catch and punish in such cases; but probably shoot you in advance and investigate afterwards.”
In 1875, the Missionary District of Northern Texas consisted of four priests, one deacon, four parishes, 10 missions, and 375 communicants. Bishop Alexander Garrett traveled regularly back East and to England to raise money for his newly-formed and cash-strapped diocese.
On one such trip he was speaking in Philadelphia. When Bishop Garrett got up to speak, he was introduced by a noted layman in this way: “I have visited Texas myself. I consider it the most God-forsaken country on the face of the earth. I hope you will give the poor Bishop, who by the cruelty of the Church is expected to reside there, a patient hearing and a generous response.”
Bishop Garrett got up and said, “It is true, my friends, that we have some undesirable citizens in Texas, but we are catching them as fast as we can and sending them back to the various states of the Union in which they received their early training. My friend need not be alarmed. All who belong to him will return in due time.”
Bishop Garrett was an indefatigable church planter. He would travel the breadth of the missionary district and later diocese for weeks at a time. His wife, Lettie, would often not know exactly when her husband would return—or if. Oftentimes he was a kind of travelling road show. He would come into a community, search out any Anglicans or Episcopalians that anyone might have heard of, and hold services, often Morning or Evening Prayer. In addition, he would give lectures in various towns of Texas, speaking on the fauna and flora of Texas, the recent heralded theory of evolution—he was against it on philosophical grounds—and a variety of other topics. He would charge admission for these lectures and then use the proceeds to help purchase property, build a church building for a fledgling congregation, or help fund a clergyman’s salary.
In 1923, at the age of 93 and totally blind, he became the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. The House of Bishops met in Dallas that year out of deference to their Presiding Bishop so that Bishop Garrett would not have to travel.
When he died in 1924 after fifty years of ministry as bishop in Dallas, the mayor of Dallas announced that a period of silence should be held in his honor.
Harry Tunis Moore (1924-1945)
SECOND Bishop of Dallas
Bishop Harry Tunis Moore came to the Episcopate after having served as the Dean of St. Matthew’s Cathedral for 10 years. He served as Bishop Coadjutor for seven years before becoming the Diocesan Bishop in 1924. Because of Bishop Garrett’s declining health and failing eyesight, Moore ran the day to day operations of the Diocese of Dallas.
He served the Diocese of Dallas during very challenging years, probably the most challenging years of the diocese. The “Roaring 20s” with broad economic prosperity, jazz music flappers, Art Deco, and Prohibition was also a time of runaway inflation, causing prices to go up and real income to go down. That period was followed by the Great Depression, when joblessness increased and money was tight.
St. Mary’s College, Bishop Garrett’s pride and joy, struggled to make ends meet. Bishop Garrett had traveled back East on a yearly basis to raise money to keep his school afloat. Five years after Bishop Garrett died, the college owed so much money that it was facing bankruptcy. The vestry of St. Matthew’s Cathedral, out of love for Bishop Garrett, voted to take over the debt of the college and eventually relocate the congregation from their 900-seat Gothic—debt-free, but also in need of extensive repairs, “finest church building in the Southwest”—and to the college located at the corner of Ross and Garret Avenues.
The college debt was not the only financial challenge facing the diocese and Bishop Moore. He would often take drastic measures to keep the diocese afloat financially during this time. Parishioners in several places, such as Ennis, would worship in their church on a Sunday, only to be told during the week before that their church building had just been sold by the Bishop.
Bishop Harry Tunis Moore was a big man, larger than life, with a big, booming voice that was loud even when he whispered. Before he became bishop he had been the dean of St. Matthew’s Cathedral. His voice was so loud that it could be heard across the church even when he was whispering. He was an extrovert’s extrovert. But he was followed as dean by a shy, very “meticulous” priest who would go on and on at the announcements time.
Once Sunday the Dean was making an announcement about one of the Guild meetings and was waxing at length about the wonderful water cress sandwiches that would be served at the Guild meeting, and Bishop Moore was in his seat at the front of the chancel and across the aisle from the organist who was sitting on the organ bench. Bishop Moore was “fit to be tied” and finally whispered to the organist in his big, booming whisper, “Please begin the Offertory.”
The Organist responded in a whisper, “But Bishop, the dean is still talking.”
Bishop Moore then replied (more loudly), “Sir, I am your bishop, and as your bishop I am ordering you to begin the Offertory Hymn!!” And the Organist did!
Bishop Moore could be very firm; some would say very stubborn. Once he had a strong difference of opinion with the vestry of St. Andrew’s Church in Fort Worth. It seems that the vestry had called a man as rector who had been previously married—and divorced. When they notified the bishop of their selection to be rector, Bishop Moore told them he would not give his permission. The vestry called the man anyway. Bishop Moore then told the congregation that he would never visit the congregation as long as this man was their rector. In response, they withheld their diocesan assessment payments for as long as they got no visit from their bishop. They informed the Bishop that they would place the assessment payments in an escrow account and release them when their Bishop came for an official visit. When Bishop Mason was elected and consecrated at Bishop Coadjutor, he finally made a visit to St. Andrew’s, and they post haste released the escrowed funds to the diocese.
Bishop Moore understood that there was more to the church than buildings and money. Early in his episcopate he held week-long Christian education conferences, youth conferences, strengthened college ministries, as well as reorganizing the structure of the diocese. In 1928, he called for a “Bishop’s Crusade” that emphasized evangelism and conversion; this was followed by a significant increase in confirmations. At the height of the Great Depression in 1936, he initiated again an evangelism crusade in the diocese, calling for a series of preaching missions which were part of the national “Forward in Service” which brought about preaching missions in churches across the diocese.
The lead up to World War II saw a variety of offerings taken in various churches throughout the diocese to help people in totalitarian regimes throughout the world designated for among others, China, Finland, and British War Relief.
During the war years, diocesan missionary expansion was put on hold as the nation focused its attention on rationing food, tires, gasoline, sending their young men and women off to war, and providing extra pastoral ministry for families of absent men and women in the armed forces as well as to soldiers.
Although Bishop Moore could be firm, he also had a famous sense of humor. One time, at a service at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, they ran out of wafers at Holy Communion. Informed that there were no more wafers for the communicants, Bishop Moore bellowed out: “Go away, we don’t have any more!”
Another time, at a graveside service, before beginning the committal, one of the funeral home assistants gave him a handful of rose petals instead of the customary dirt to cast on the casket with the words: “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Bishop Moore objected that he wanted dirt, not rose petals. The assistant replied, “But Bishop, they’ll turn to dust too, you know. The Bishop replied, “Yes, and so will you, but I’m not going to throw you on the casket either.”
When the war ended, and the aging Bishop should have enjoyed the post-war prosperity that would come, Bishop Moore would instead soon pass on to the larger life—but not until he got to organize one last mission: St. Michael and All Angels in the newly expanding northern part of Dallas. He affectionately referred to St. Michael’s as “St. Mike’s,” calling it “the child of my old age.”
Bp. Charles Avery Mason (1945-1970)
THIRD Bishop of Dallas
The episcopate of Bishop Mason was a time of phenomenal missionary expansion for both the Diocese of Dallas and the Episcopal Church at large. He “possessed a burning evangelistic zeal,” high energy, and pushed his clergy with an urgency to work equally as hard as he.
The post-World War II period in America was also a time of high energy and corporate organization. Bishop Mason gathered around him leaders of the community that would lead diocesan ventures to organize and expand every area of diocesan life.
In his first address to the Diocesan Convention, Bishop Mason urged the Diocese: “We realize that we are asking a tremendous amount of work from the Diocese . . . The words of Mother Cabrini addressed to her sisters come to mind, ‘My sisters,’ said the Holy Mother, ‘Work until you can work no more—until your body and mind are exhausted, then kneel in the presence of our Blessed Lord and say, My Jesus, I can do no more, but having said it, get up and work again, you have all eternity to rest.’”
Some accused Bishop Mason of having an “edifice complex;” however, he himself viewed all these new buildings simply as necessary for the mission of the church. Outreach in south Dallas was made more effective with the building of St. Philip’s School and Community Center. He established the Bishop Mason Retreat and Conference Center to help clergy and lay people to get away and reflect and deepen their spiritual life. He called for the initial purchase of land for what would become Camp Crucis.
During his tenure the Diocese of Dallas grew faster than the surrounding population of Northeast Texas. During his 24 years as Bishop, the Diocese of Dallas planted 83 new churches. The vast majority of these missions moved forward to parish status and are leading and active parishes in the diocese today. To Bishop Mason, any old building represented the promise of a new church. For example, St. John’s, Dallas, started in an abandoned chicken barn near White Rock Lake. Numerous churches began in storefronts and homes. The writer of this article was introduced to the Episcopal Church when he began attending a new mission that met in a doctor’s office during the episcopate of Bishop Mason. Several churches grew out of conflict in a former parish. Some of the parishes begun during Bishop Mason’s episcopate are: St. Luke’s, Dallas; Church of the Ascension, Dallas; Good Shepherd, Dallas; Church of the Transfiguration, Dallas; St. John’s Dallas; and Church of the Epiphany, Richardson.
Bishop Mason had urged others to “work until you can work no more.” He lived by his own counsel. At the end of his episcopate and his life—he was hobbled by frail health and debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. Although he intended an orderly transition in the election of a coadjutor to succeed him, he died in office in 1970 before the election could be accomplished.
Archibald Donald Davies (1970-1982)
FOURTH Bishop of Dallas
The Diocese of Dallas has always been led by generally “traditionalist” bishops. Bishop Garrett wrote a book on the basics of the faith. Bishop Moore refused to visit St. Andrew’s Church in Ft. Worth because they had called a priest as rector who had been divorced. Bishop Mason was a staunch Anglo-Catholic. After he left the Bishop Davies helped establish the Episcopal Missionary Church, which was formed because people were concerned that the Episcopal Church had become “influenced by secular humanism (i.e., liberal theologies)”. Bishop Davies, retired from PECUSA, was named the first Presiding Bishop of this new denomination.
- Donald Davies was not the first choice of the Diocese of Dallas to succeed Bishop Mason. The diocese’s first choice was The Right Reverend Robert Rusack, then Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles. After a period of extended deliberation—and after being elected as the Diocesan Bishop of Los Angeles—Bishop Rusack declined the election in Dallas. The next election called The Rev. A. Donald Davies, who as Bishop Garrett before him, had served as the Dean of Trinity Cathedral in Omaha, Nebraska.
Bishop Davies was bishop during a time when the Episcopal Church as well as all the mainline denominations focused much energy on building institutions. Little did anyone realize that the country was moving into a period when the majority of the American people would come to distrust their major institutions (recall the Watergate scandal, the Pentagon Papers, and the secretly recorded tapes of President Nixon). But the “spirit of the age” at the beginning of Bishop Davies’ episcopate stilled called for and trusted strong institutions, and bishop’s aim was to strengthen the structure of the diocese and build institutions that would serve the church for years to come. To that end he was responsible for the building of Cathedral Gardens, a home for the seniors located next to St. Matthew’s Cathedral; he led the way in further construction projects at Camp Crucis, the diocesan camp in Granbury, Texas; he also furthered the development of the Bishop Mason Center and established the diocesan mausoleum on that property. He was a strong supporter of the Cursillo Movement in the diocese, began the Anglican School of Theology, and encouraged the founding of Episcopal School of Dallas.
The episcopate of Bishop Davies was a challenging time for the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Dallas. The trial rites in anticipation of the revising the Book of Common Prayer were introduced during his time as bishop, as well as the approval of the new prayer book. In addition, Bishop Davies helped settle 10,000 Asian immigrants in North Texas. He also directed St. Matthew’s Cathedral to begin a ministry to the Spanish-speaking community.
His most lasting legacy is the division of the Diocese of Dallas into two dioceses: the Diocese of Dallas and the Diocese of Fort Worth. Bishop Davies elected to go with the newly formed Diocese of Ft. Worth to serve as their new bishop. The Diocese of Dallas the proceeded to elect a new diocesan bishop.
Donis Dean Patterson (1983-1992)
FIFTH Bishop of Dallas
After the tumultuous years of the two previous bishops, the Diocese of Dallas called a gentle pastor, a strong Cursillo proponent to be its diocesan bishop. Donis Dean Patterson grew up in Ohio and served the Army in Korea where he was confirmed in the Episcopal Church. After the Korean War he continued to serve as an Army chaplain while he pastored churches in Ohio and Florida. He retired from the Army Reserve with the rank of Colonel.
Bishop Patterson’s episcopate was also a challenging time for the church. During this time the Episcopal Church at large was confronted with a series of controversies that had their impact on the Diocese of Dallas. Several of these events during his episcopate reveal that Bishop Patterson was thoughtful and principled but not always predictable.
The new Bishop first had to deal with a diocese drastically reduced in size and needing to be reorganized to face its new realities. After the western half of the diocese was split off to form the Diocese of Fort Worth.
Although Bishop Patterson was clearly in the line of traditionalist bishops who have led the Diocese of Dallas, he did not always do as the traditionalists expected him.
To the consternation of the traditionalist clergy in the diocese, Bishop Patterson ordained the first woman priest in the Diocese of Dallas, the Rev. Gwen Langdoc Buehrens, in November 1985. This was a time of high drama. The ordination sparked protests from traditionalists in the diocese. During the ordination service, while Bishop Patterson was inside St. Matthew’s Cathedral ordaining the diocese’s first woman priest, the Suffragan Bishop of the diocese at the time, Bishop Robert E. Terwilliger, was leading a protest outside the Cathedral.
It was said of Bishop Patterson, “He simply loved Jesus and wanted everybody to love Jesus.”
Equally infuriating to the traditionalists within the diocese was his requirement that all 64 congregations adopt the 1979 Book of Common Prayer by January 1, 1986. Further, in August 1986, Patterson dissolved the relationship between the diocese and the Church of the Holy Communion in far North Dallas after the congregation's refusal to adopt the new Prayer Book.
In 1989, Patterson also refused a request for Fort Worth Bishop Clarence Pope to celebrate the Eucharist and confirm at Holy Nativity Church in Plano, Texas, under an Episcopal Visitors Resolution designed for parishes objecting to the ministry of a bishop who ordained women.
In 1991, after the General Convention failed to deal with the issues of sexuality, Bishop Patterson returned to the diocese and led the diocesan convention to withhold a portion of the contributions of the diocese to the “national church” in protest against the failure of the convention to deal decisively with the progressive shift in the church on sexuality.
Bishop Patterson led the diocese in establishing 14 new churches during his episcopate. Like Bishop Davies before him, he was also a strong supporter of the Cursillo Movement in the diocese. He also ordained the first deacons—“vocational deacons”—in the diocese. Also like an earlier predecessor, Bishop Mason, Bishop Patterson suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, which cause him to retire (prematurely) in 1992.
James Monte Stanton (1993-2014)
SIXTH Bishop of Dallas
At another diocesan convention, the delegates were dealing with the issue of racism. Arguments flowed back and forth on the convention floor as the delegates “wordsmithed” and debated and debated the issue, trying desperately—and frustratingly—to get the wording just right. On into the evening the convention debated. Tempers ran high. Finally Bishop Stanton pounded his gavel, said that the Diocese of Dallas would not leave this convention without having passed a resolution on racism and proposed a resolution—not quite in keeping with Roberts Rules of Order but fully keeping with good order: “The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas is opposed to racism in all its forms.” This resolution was seconded, approved without debate, and the convention adjourned.
When James Monte Stanton was consecrated as the Sixth Bishop of Dallas, the diocese was fractious, a study of the clergy by a family systems therapist had labeled the clergy “dysfunctional,” and the diocese had been hobbled by a bishop who had been hobbled in the latter years of his episcopate by rheumatoid arthritis.
Into this challenging time came this young, 46-year old, “direct out of central casting for a bishop” James Monte Stanton. How did this young Bishop Stanton respond to the challenges of a diocese that spent too much energy at diocesan conventions debating contentious resolutions? At his first diocesan convention he called upon the convention to introduce no resolutions for debate and then for the diocesan delegates, alternates, and visitors to build two Habitat for Humanity houses. He believed that mission would unite the diocese, not issues. “We can be very different in theology, but we can work together for good. We needed to enlarge the vision,” he said.
The episcopate of Bishop Stanton will be known for six things:
- The Reach of the Diocese of Dallas across the Anglican Communion through Relationships and Mission Partnerships. In 1997, just before the Lambeth Conference in 1998, Bishop Stanton invited the Global South Bishops and Archbishops to Dallas engage in issues that the next Lambeth Conference would be dealing with and helping these bishops to understand parliamentary procedure used at the Lambeth Conference. In addition, all these international guests came to northeast Texas and the surrounding areas and preached and built great bonds of affection among the Diocese of Dallas and members of the larger Anglican Communion.
- Bishop Stanton’s Role in the Larger Church. He was prominent both nationally and internationally as a clear theological voice articulating a traditionalist faith at a time of great uncertainty and a leader in national and international issues facing the Episcopal Church. During this time, Bishop Stanton was interviewed by numerous media outlets, such as the Dallas Morning News, “60 Minutes,” Newsweek and the Associated Press, among others.
- The Development of the Diocesan Strategic Plan. As he was approaching what would likely be the halfway point of his episcopate, Bishop Stanton led the diocese in developing and adopting a strategic plan for growth. Out of this time came a diocese that recruited and attracted younger clergy, developed more transformational leaders, made church planting a priority, focused our attention on congregational development, expanded our reach overseas with an explosion of short-term mission trips, and focused our attention on mission rather than maintenance. The motto of this strategic plan was: “We believe in the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives; we are resurrection people.”
- The Expansion of the Diaconate. The Diocese of Dallas is a leader in the ministry of deacons in the Episcopal Church and has been used as a pattern for other dioceses in developing a successful ministry of the diaconate.
- Camp All Saints at Lake Texoma. This strategic plan then led to the establishment of Camp All Saints at a time when many dioceses were closing and selling their diocesan camps.
- Church Planting and Congregational Development. Finally, and as a result of the strategic plan, the Diocese of Dallas emerged as a leader in church planting and congregational development in the Episcopal Church. At a time when the vast majority of diocese were cutting back on expansion, the Diocese of Dallas led the church in church planting, both in high growth suburban areas and non-English language ethnically homogeneous plants.
When The Rev. Canon Gene Robinson, an openly partnered gay man, was consecrated as Bishop of New Hampshire, it was predicted by the Primates of the Anglican Communion that his consecration would “tear the fabric of the [Anglican] Communion at its deepest level.” This action also tore the fabric of the Diocese of Dallas at its deepest level. After the historic 2003 General Convention, where the election of Canon Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire was consented to, Bishop Stanton made the unprecedented decision to visit each of the churches in the diocese within the space of several months to hear their concerns and provide pastoral support. These visits greatly lessened the damage that the decision would otherwise have inflicted on the conservatives in the diocese. Nevertheless, following the 2006 General Convention, four churches left “whole cloth” from the diocese and four other churches saw up to a third of its parishioners leave and need to be reorganized.
In 2014, after 21 years as the Bishop of Dallas—22 years upon his retirement—Bishop Stanton called for the election of a successor bishop.
SEVENTH Bishop-Elect of Dallas
On Saturday, May 16,2015, the Rev. Canon George R. Sumner, principal of Wycliffe College, Toronto was duly elected to be VII Episcopal Bishop of Dallas. Bishop Sumner was elected on the fourth ballot with 77 clergy votes out of 138 cast; and 107 lay votes out of 193 after having led in each ballot. The election of Bishop Sumner was approved by a majority of diocesan bishops and standing committees in the Episcopal Church. He was consecrated November 2015 in a ceremony attended by 2,000 people.
Bishop Sumner came to the Diocese of Dallas at a tumultuous time. Although the diocese has been a historically conservative and traditional diocese, it is not uniformly so. He must be bishop to all within the diocese. He wrote to the diocese shortly after his election:
I return in my mind to the three goals that were expressed in our recent episcopal search. We want to articulate the traditional teaching on marriage. Here I commend to you the thoughtful letter from our Standing Committee. We do well to think of this witness as actually a gift to the whole church. This is just the perspective of the bishops themselves in their generous mind-of-the-house statement toward the Communion Partners bishops at Convention. I pledge myself to do whatever I can to advocate for this continuing witness in our Church among my future colleagues in the coming years. Secondly, we remain loyal to our church, even as we remind it that the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.’ (I Corinthians 12:21). Thirdly we expressed a desire for a spirit of charity and unity. I mean, by God’s grace, to be bishop for the whole diocese, across differences of opinion, in this demanding time. Through all this, we need together to get on with the work of evangelizing and serving God has in mind for us, clinging as we must to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is our only true certainty.