The 30th Diocesan Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth on November 2-3 was full of milestones.
The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., recently retired bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, was elected and installed as the third provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth on Saturday, November 3, at the convention in Stephenville at Tarleton State University. Watch the video of the installation of Bishop High.
Departing Bishop C. Wallis Ohl issued a call for the election of a bishop diocesan, a process that can take more than two years. This marks a significant step in the growth of the diocese, as the process will culminate in the election of a full time bishop.
Delegates also learned that in the years 2009-2011 diocesan funds given away in outreach, mission and ministry beyond the confines of the diocese totaled almost $2 million.
Lively but respectful debate on campus ministries and the diocesan health plan demonstrated the delegates’ confidence in their ability to disagree with one another in love.
Norm Snyder of Good Shepherd, Granbury, and Curt Norman of St. Luke’s, Stephenville, were elected as the lay and clergy representatives to the Standing Committee. At a meeting of the Standing Committee following convention, Marti Fagley of St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church worshiping with The Episcopal Church in Parker County was elected president.
Sherri Glaser of St. Luke’s in the Meadow, Fort Worth, was elected to another term as trustee to the University of the South (Sewanee). Brent Walker of St. Stephen’s, Wichita Falls, was elected as a lay member of the Disciplinary Board.
Bishop High succeeds Ohl, who retired as provisional bishop at the end of the diocesan convention. Bishop Ohl has served since November of 2009, when he succeeded the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. Gulick, Jr. Gulick, then bishop of Kentucky, became the first provisional bishop of Fort Worth after the diocese reorganized in February 2009, necessitated by the departure of the former diocesan bishop and several diocesan leaders from The Episcopal Church in November 2008.
“I am deeply honored and humbled by the fact that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth would ask me to be their provisional bishop,” Bishop High said. “I am thrilled and I am excited about it and I look forward to working with laity and clergy of the diocese. I’m really grateful for the laity of the church. And Pat and I are excited about being in Fort Worth, about moving there in January.”
Bishop High said he was impressed by the spirit of love and respect that permeated the debates and discussions in the business sessions. “People disagreed with one another, but in love. Everyone listened respectfully and voted prayerfully. This is a healthy diocese.”
The two-day convention began Friday afternoon. The business sessions were surrounded by prayer, being set in the context of the Eucharist. After the business session on Friday adjourned, Bishop Ohl ordained Henry Penner of St. Martin-in the-Fields, Keller, as a deacon. It was a joyous occasion that was followed by a celebratory dinner. The Immediate Blues Band from Stephenville provided lively music that brought delegates to their feet and set them to dancing.
After dinner, a short video introduced Bishop High, following which Bishop High addressed the convention. The convention ended with Compline.
On Saturday, Bishop Ohl used the metaphor of bridge building as the theme for his convention address, saying, “The metaphor of bridge is appropriate, not only as I transition out and Bishop High comes on board, but also as we the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth continue to grow into the ’measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.’” (Ephesians 4:13 RSV)
He reminded the convention delegates and visitors that the election of another provisional bishop is “not a stop-gap measure; we are progressing toward the time when we will be able to elect and consecrate our next diocesan bishop.”
Bishop Ohl added, “The process of searching for, electing, and consecrating a bishop takes about two years. It is a time of concentrated prayer and hard work for the entire diocese. . . . Therefore, I call this day for the election of a Bishop Diocesan for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.”
The convention delegates adopted a three-year budget. The diocesan treasurer announced that for the years 2009-2011, diocesan funds given away in outreach, mission and ministry beyond the confines of the diocese totaled $1,928,737.
After Bishop Ohl adjourned the convention Saturday afternoon, members of the Standing Committee, including outgoing as well as newly-elected members, requested that he remain for just a bit longer. A five-minute farewell video showed him with every congregation he visited, every ordination over which he presided, including Henry Penner’s on Friday; at General Convention, at the Episcopal Youth Event, and at Cursillo. Afterward, the Standing Committee presented him with a vintage Kentucky mandolin. A delighted Bishop Ohl began strumming it immediately. Bishop Ohl is a bluegrass musician and the Standing Committee’s gift is an instrument “with what is referred to as an A-body style that conveys a beautiful simple style with great sound.”
Bishop High was then installed as the third provisional bishop of the diocese. As part of the installation, Bishop Ohl presented him with the “Fort Worth Crozier.” Prior to doing so, Bishop Ohl invited the creator of the crozier, Bill Penny of Christ the King, to join them in front of the altar. Penny created the crozier originally for Bishop Gulick, who decided it needed to remain in Fort Worth for subsequent bishops as a symbol of continuity.
Bishop High, who attended TCU as a freshman, has a long connection with Fort Worth. “I went to Trinity [Episcopal Church] as a person who grew up in the Diocese of Texas and they embraced me. Their chaplain looked after me, through Canterbury House. It was the beginning of a new spiritual level of growth for me,” he said.
Bishop High was elected bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas on June 7, 2003 at Christ Church Cathedral, Houston. He was consecrated on October 4, 2003 at Camp Allen.
Bishop High and his wife Pat live for now at their river house south of Houston on the San Bernard River. They have been married for 48 years and have three children and six grandchildren, all of whom live in Fort Worth. They will be moving to Fort Worth in early 2013 when their new home is completed.
You can view photos from convention on Flickr. Photos are provided by Lefty Brandon and Susan Kleinwechter.