Maryland: Diocese announces nominees for bishop suffragan

Posted Feb 3, 2014

[Diocese of Maryland press release] In accordance with the Canons and Constitutions of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Maryland, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland today announced its slate of three nominees for the office of Bishop Suffragan of Maryland.

The nominees have been presented by a Search Committee comprised of 15 individuals – six clergy and nine laypeople – who represent the diversity of the many congregations within the diocese.The search process began in May 2013.

“Eight months ago the Standing Committee charged the Search Committee with presenting to the diocese a slate of qualified and diverse nominees for Bishop Suffragan. The Standing Committee was excited to learn who the Search Committee discerned for the slate of Bishop Suffragan at our meeting on Thursday, January 30th,” said the Reverend Dina van Klaveren, president of the Standing Committee.

The Right Rev. Joe G. Burnett served the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland as its assistant bishopsince April 1, 2011, following the retirement of the Rt. Rev. John L. Rabb, bishop suffragan. Bishop Burnett had planned to end his tenure as assistant bishop with the consecration of the new bishop suffragan in the fall of 2014; however his final day in the Maryland diocese was December 31, 2013. Bishop Burnett became interim rector of St. Columba’s Church, Washington, DC, on January 1, 2014.


For videos and photographs, and detailed biographies, resumes and letters of introduction please visit

The Reverend Canon Heather Cook, 57, is the canon to the ordinary in the Diocese of Easton, where she works closely with the bishop around transition, communication and reconciliation. Cook’s life work has been to create connections and build community around the Good News of God’s love, and she is committed to helping the Church re-tool for greater effectiveness in a post-Christendom society.

The Reverend Nancy Gossling, 61, is currently on a discernment sabbatical after having completed a ministry experience at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland and a Spanish immersion course in Barcelona, Spain. Gossling served as the rector of St. James’ Church in Glastonbury, Connecticut, until 2012, and offers her energy and visionary leadership to empower the mission and ministry of God’s people.

The Reverend Canon Victoria Sirota, 64, is the canon pastor and vicar of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City. Sirota previously served as vicar of the Church of the Holy Nativity, Pimlico (Baltimore City). She is a professional musician, co-founder of the Order of Urban Missioners in Baltimore and New York City, and has a commitment to preaching, pastoral care and congregational growth.

“This slate is the culmination of many months of prayerful hard work on the part of a committee which came together and worked as if we had been together for years. These were exceptional people chosen from all walks of life in the Diocese of Maryland, and their ability to work so well together went a long way to getting to a final slate of such exemplary candidates,” Faye Houston and the Rev. Dr. Chip Lee, Search Committee co-chairs said.

Public Forums

The next step in the process of electing a new bishop is a series of meet-and-greet sessions commonly known as Walk-Abouts. Scheduled for April 2-5, the anticipated format is small group question-and-answer sessions. Locations to be announced.

Bishops in the Episcopal Church are elected by ballot by both clergy and lay delegates. The election for bishop suffragan of Maryland will be held at the annual Diocesan Convention, May 2-3, Turf Valley Resort, near Ellicott City.

The Walk-abouts and election are being planned by the Transition Team.

Petition Process Opens

In accordance with the Canons and Constitutions of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Maryland, there is also an opportunity for clergy to self-nominate as a petition candidate. The petition process opens Tuesday, February 4.

Each applicant will be vetted by the Standing Committee and will be required to submit 16 petition signatures as well as a complete set of materials as required of search process applicants. All completed materials must be received no later 5 pm on Tuesday, February 18, 2014. Petition information and materials can be found online at

The Standing Committee’s role is similar to that of a board of directors. The committee serves as the council of advice to the bishop(s), and when there is a vacancy in the office of bishop, the committee performs the duties and powers of the bishop in matters of governance.


Comments (6)

  1. David Krohne says:

    Apparently no biological males need apply?

    1. George Kooney says:

      “Male and female He created them.”

      Seems to me to say that God plays no gender favorites. Nor should we.

  2. April Johnson says:

    Seriously!?! Really!?! How old are you? These women are the ones that have been nominated by people that feel they have what we need to assist our Bishop and move our Diocese forward. Thinking like that is really backward, sexist and insulting to YOUR parish because you have put this opinion forward in a public forum. There will be more self nominated nominees and probably there will be some gentlemen who end up in the lineup but that should make no difference. We are looking for the most qualified person not what their gender is, you should be ashamed of yourself.

  3. Chris Epting says:

    As if there are no elections where no biological femaales need apply!

  4. Ann Beladi says:

    I think that David asks a valid question. If this was reversed, and no women were nominated, I think many people would ask the same question, only in reverse. And I doubt that April would so vociferously label him a sexist if he asked “Apparently no females need apply?”

  5. Selena Smith says:

    A Nominating Committee for the Election of a Bishop does their best work following the diocesan canons, as well as the diocesan profile for the next bishop, and submits a slate. Then, however a diocese has its canons, nominations by petition (there used to be some that could be made from the floor at the electing convention) can be made. If there are candidates whom should or could be nominated and were not placed on the slate by the Nominating Committee, please participate in that process and see if those persons wish to be nominated by petition. The whole election from Nominating Committee to Election and afterward is a very political process.

Comments are closed.