Central Pennsylvania bishop to retire due to health reasons

By diocesan staff
Posted Jun 25, 2013

[Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania] The Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, has announced his intent to retire due to health issues.

Baxter, who has recently returned from a three-month sabbatical, told members of the diocese that, although his recent health issues are much improved, “it has also become clear to me that my health challenges will not allow me to serve you with the sustained energy and consistency required for the future of this work.”

Baxter noted that he has continued to deal with migraine headaches, vertigo and fatigue and he felt these ailments would interfere with his ability to execute his duties fully. He noted that, by the time his successor is ordained, he will have served as bishop for eight years. Most bishops in the Episcopal Church serve an average of 10 years before retirement.

The bishop informed the diocesan Standing Committee earlier this month and then sent letters to the clergy and to the diocese as a whole. He noted in his letter that the selection process for a new bishop normally takes about 18 months. He pledged to continue to serve until a new bishop is ordained.

Bishop Clay Matthews, head of the Office of Pastoral Development for the Episcopal Church is scheduled to be at a joint meeting of the council of trustees and Standing Committee of the diocese July 9 to help guide the process of selecting a new bishop.

In the meantime, Baxter said, “I look forward to continuing with my visitations and working to carry forward the many projects that advance the mission and ministry of this diocese. In addition, I know that our dedicated diocesan staff will continue their fine work and will help us all work through this period of change.”

A third generation clergyman, Baxter was ordained as bishop of the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania on Oct. 21, 2006 with retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu delivering the sermon. Before his election, Baxter was rector of historic St. James Episcopal Church, Lancaster, which was founded in 1744 and is largest parish in the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.

Prior to his tenure at St. James Church, Baxter served for 12 years as dean of the Washington National Cathedral and chief administrative officer of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation, which operates the cathedral’s eight schools, colleges and auxiliaries.

The Diocese of Central Pennsylvania comprises 66 parishes and institutions in the 25 central counties of the Commonwealth and covers the area between the Diocese of Pennsylvania — headquartered in Philadelphia — and the Diocese of Pittsburgh.


Comments (11)

  1. Leon Spencer says:

    Blessings to you, +Nathan. I have happy memories of our time together in Harare two decades ago, and of your sensitive leadership at Credo. I wish you well.

  2. Raleigh Daniel Hairston, D.Min. Rector Retired says:

    My dear brother in Christ: Greetings! It’s good and proper for me to reflect upon your times and services; particularly at the Wahington Cathedral, and of your work among the people and clergy of the diocese there, and also of your being a signicant part of the witness of UBE not only there, but throughout the life of the Church at large. You have “kept the faith” and indeed have been a “good soldier” in the army of our Lord Jesus. I had left the diocese of Washinton by the time you returned to become rector of a large dynamic parish church in your hometown, and subsequently became Bishop of Central Pennslslyvia. You have been a wonderful servant of our Lord, your people there, and elsewhere. May God, our heavely Father grant you healing, wholeness, respite, eventual rest, peace and many happy years ahead as you move into retirement. Knowing something of your work and zeal, you’ll probably continue involvements, both within and outside the life of our Church. May you be blessed in all your present and future endeavors. RDH+

  3. Nathan,
    Thank you for your extraordinary service to the Church. You have led with integrity and grace, care and competence. I wish you well.

  4. Br.Liuke Anthony Nowicki, BSG says:

    I have just received the news about the retirement of out bishop. I am sorry to to hear about the news, and I pray for him and his family at ths time. It is a great pleasure to be in this diocese as a religious brother and it was my pleasure to see the bishop often and he always was pleased to see me and chat with me. God be with him this day and always.
    Br. Luke Anthony Nowicki, BSG

  5. Delois Ward says:

    Bp Baxter
    Thank you for your long ministry and love for our Church. God Speed and much improved health as you enter a less demanding phase of ministry.

  6. Bishop Baxter: Well done thy good and faithful servant! Your witness of grace, prophetic ministry, and deep wisdom has been a blessing to the Church and to the glory of God. Thank personally for the mentorship and kindness you displayed towards me.

  7. Paul Towers says:

    Bishop Baxter, Holding you and your wife in prayer as you travel down this new and at times uncertain road. Please remember all the lives you touched throughout your ministry as a priest and bishop. You have my most well wishes and blessing to you. In Xto Paul

  8. George lovell says:

    Bishop Baxter, I wish health and happiness to you and your family. I treasure the many times we talked, your wise counsel, caring leadership, and the wonderful years at St. James .

  9. The Rev. Harry L. Knisely says:

    Truly, know you and Mary Ellen are in our prayers, and I am glad to know that your prayers for the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania will extend through out time of discernment and the election of the new Bishop. Thanks for your ministry here.

  10. FRANK E. TATE, III says:

    Right Reverend and Venerable Father,

    The “Here I AM” conference we met, I recall your saying ” By the Way of the church of God In Christ culminating with Bp Tutu during his annual visit.
    Try “Galangal” for your migraine.
    I am thankful for your episcopacy.

    1. martella wilson-taylor says:

      I bid you God’s speed. So glad we re-connected at Harvard . What a wonderful contribution you have made to everything you’ve done and everyone you’ve touched. I’m so proud that you followed the path and became who you are.. As a young child, I could see the brilliance in you. Ssending my best to your family.

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