Dear Friends in Christ,
As I announced earlier, I have called for a special meeting of Convention on May 16, at Trinity Episcopal Church, Fort Worth, for the purpose of electing a provisional bishop to succeed me.
I want to share with you some thoughts of how I came to this decision. First, at the 2014 November Convention, I asked our Standing Committee to look into any and all creative approaches to the office of bishop for us in Fort Worth. I know full well we are not in a position to elect a full-time bishop at this time. During the late Fall and into the first three months of 2015, they have worked long and hard, visiting with a number of leaders in the larger church and in different dioceses, and with several bishops. They have prayerfully and thoughtfully come to the recommendation that we need to elect a Provisional Bishop and have this person serve for a longer period of time than Ted, Wallis or I have been able to serve. So the Standing Committee did what I asked them to do. They finished their work with a plan and a nominee, soon to be announced.
Second, I feel very good about this decision of the Standing Committee, and I am in full support of their recommendation. You will soon be receiving a letter from the Standing Committee about their thought process and the way forward with their nomination.
Third, I really feel the time has come for me to step aside and allow someone else to lead the Diocese into our future. I have to be honest with you all, my diocesan family, that with the death of my dear Pat, life has certainly changed for me. Some of you know personally what I am talking about. This is a tough time, coping with the loss of someone who has been the center of my whole being for over 50 years. And, as I have said to some of you, I honestly do not have the emotional or spiritual energy to spend ten days at General Convention as your bishop. As a resigned (retired) bishop, I will participate in the election of the next Presiding Bishop and attend some of the functions of the House of Bishops. I have been to at least ten General Conventions as deputy or bishop, and it has been my privilege to represent two dioceses. Our new provisional bishop will work with our fine deputation of lay and clergy leaders in preparation for and during the course of General Convention.
All that said, I believe it is best for me to end my time as your bishop on June 30. I will be fully present as your bishop up until that time, continuing with visitations and with my other duties as the bishop of Fort Worth.
This has been a gut-wrenching decision for me because I love what I have done and am doing, experiencing some of the fruits of your laboring in God’s vineyard. I know in my heart this decision is best for the diocese and best for “Old Rayford.” I have told the Standing Committee I will be available to assist in any way they see fit or in any way the new provisional bishop wishes to use me. To be very clear, Fort Worth is my home: I love it here, my family is here, and I’m not leaving!
I know God’s Holy Spirit is leading us forward into the future to carry on Christ’s mission and ministry within this great Diocese and beyond.
Faithfully in Christ,
+Rayford B. High, Jr.
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth