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Episcopal Diocese Nominates New Bishop

Rt. Rev. Sean Row of Erie pegged to become provisional bishop in Bethlehem, northeastern Pennsylvania.

The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, his wife Carly, and daughter Lauren. (Heather Prather Photography)
The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, his wife Carly, and daughter Lauren. (Heather Prather Photography)
By Jack Tobias

It appears the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe of the Erie area will be adding to his duties if he becomes provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem.

Rowe, the current bishop of the northwestern Pennsylvania diocese, has been nominated as provisional bishop of Bethlehem, according to a news release. Diocese clergy and lay representatives will vote on Rowe's nomination on March 1.

Rowe's post as provisional bishop carries a three-year term. He would continue as bishop of northwestern Pennsylvania under the proposed arrangement.

The Bethlehem diocese's previous bishop, the Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, retired Dec. 31 after a terminal sabbatical. On Jan. 1, the diocese's standing committee announced its plan to call a provisional bishop for a three-year term, the release says.

“We believe that calling a provisional bishop is the best way for the Diocese of Bethlehem to undertake a healthy, productive period of reflection and discernment about the mission to which God is calling us,” said the Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns, the standing committee's president and rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton. "We’re delighted that Bishop Sean’s skills and proximity make this new arrangement possible.”

Gerns said of Rowe's selection:

“The Standing Committee chose Bishop Sean as our nominee for provisional bishop because of his stable, forward-thinking leadership in Northwestern Pennsylvania. He has a strong track record of building relationships with clergy and lay leaders and proven skill at resolving conflict directly and effectively."

Rowe said of his nomination:

“I am honored to be nominated as provisional bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem. Across the Episcopal Church, dioceses are seeking innovative ways to pursue 21st century mission and ministry. I am pleased to have this opportunity to help transform the church by fostering collaboration and developing new models for mission that will strengthen the witness of the Episcopal Church in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the work of God’s people in our communities.”

If elected, Rowe will take up his new duties immediately and by August 2014 spend half of his time in each diocese. He, his wife, Carly, and their 1-year-old daughter, Lauren, will have a home in both suburban Erie and in Bethlehem, the release said.

Rowe was ordained bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, which comprises 34 congregations in 13 counties, in 2007. He is known for developing transformational leadership and is a Ph.D. candidate in organizational learning and leadership at Gannon University.

He is a 2000 graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary and a 1997 graduate of Grove City College.

The March 1 electing convention will take place at 10 am at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, 321 Wyandotte St., Bethlehem.

The Bethlehem diocese comprises 63 congregations in the 14 counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania. To learn more, visit www.diobeth.org.

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