NW Pennsylvania bishop nominated to serve Bethlehem

Posted Jan 17, 2014

[Diocese of Bethlehem press release] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, a group of elected clergy and lay leaders, announced today that the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, is the nominee for provisional bishop of Bethlehem. The convention at which the diocese’s clergy and lay representatives will vote on Bishop Rowe’s nomination is set for March 1.

The Diocese of Bethlehem comprises fourteen counties in northeastern Pennsylvania, including the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Hazleton, Reading, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre.

Rowe would continue as bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania under the proposed arrangement, which would continue for three years. “The Standing Committee chose Bishop Sean as our nominee for provisional bishop because of his stable, forward-thinking leadership in Northwestern Pennsylvania,” said the Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns, president of the Standing Committee in Bethlehem and rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton. “He has a strong track record of building relationships with clergy and lay leaders and proven skill at resolving conflict directly and effectively. We’re pleased that the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania has so readily agreed to undertake this innovative arrangement with us.”

“I am honored to be nominated as provisional bishop of the Diocese of Bethlehem,” said Rowe. “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.”

The Diocese of Bethlehem’s previous bishop, the Rt. Rev. Paul V. Marshall, retired on December 31 after a terminal sabbatical. On January 1, the Standing Committee announced its plan to call a provisional bishop for a three-year term. “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 Gerns. “We’re delighted that Bishop Sean’s skills and proximity make this new arrangement possible.”

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 one-year-old daughter, Lauren, will have a home in both suburban Erie and in Bethlehem.

Rowe was ordained bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania, which comprises thirty-three congregations in thirteen 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. He serves as parliamentarian for the House of Bishops, chair of the Episcopal Church Building Fund, and member of the Task Force for Reimagining the Episcopal Church, the Council of Advice to the President of the House of Deputies and the General Board of Examining Chaplains.

The March 1 electing convention will take place at 10 am at the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, 321 Wyandotte Street in Bethlehem. Clergy of the diocese and lay leaders from each congregation will vote on the nomination of Rowe as provisional bishop.