Betsey Monnot consecrated as 10th bishop of Iowa

By Meg Wagner
Posted Dec 20, 2021
Bishop Monnot in Iowa

The Rt. Rev. Elizabeth Lockwood Hawley Monnot is greeted with resounding applause after her consecration on Dec. 18. Also pictured: her husband, the Rev. Michael Monnot, and her chaplain, the Rev. Anne Sutherland Clarke. Photo: Rachel Mummey

[Diocese of Iowa] The Rt. Rev. Elizabeth “Betsey” Lockwood Hawley Monnot was ordained and consecrated as the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa on Dec. 18 at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, Iowa. Monnot is the first woman to serve as bishop since the diocese was formed in 1853.

A member of St. Paul’s Indian Mission in Sioux City provided a Four Directions Song as the prelude to the service. The first procession entered to drumming and a call and response in Dinka, led by members of the diocese’s newest congregation, Trinity Cush, founded by Sudanese immigrants in Des Moines.

After the third procession and hymn, service attendees were welcomed to the land by Dawson Davenport of the Meskwaki Nation and member of the Community Advisory Board for the diocesan Beloved Community Initiative. “It is my honor, as a Meskwaki, to welcome you to this land, this land between two rivers, to Iowa, and I ask that you not forget the many tribal nations that called this place home, to remember us in prayer,” Davenport said. “It is my honor to welcome you to this land, Betsey Hawley Monnot. We pray to the Creator for strength and wisdom that all may continue to serve as stewards of the earth.”

The preacher for the service was the Rev. Steven Godfrey, a longtime friend of Monnot and former diocesan staff member and priest in Iowa, who now serves as diocesan minister in North Dakota. “Betsey and the Diocese of Iowa share a hopefulness and belief in the power of ordinary people and communities to do extraordinary ministry when gathered in the name of Jesus,” preached Godfrey. “The spirit of the Lord is upon Betsey and each and all of you together to bring good news to the people of Iowa who most need to hear that good news of God’s love incarnate in Jesus and in the loving, inclusive, hopeful faith of Episcopalians throughout this state.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry served as chief consecrator. Co-consecrators were Bishop Alan Scarfe, ninth bishop of Iowa; Bishop Lucinda Ashby, El Camino Real; Bishop Amy Current, Southeastern Iowa Synod ELCA; Assisting Bishop Chilton Knudsen, Chicago; and Archbishop Melissa Skelton, Anglican Church of Canada, assisting in the Diocese of Olympia in Washington State.

A dozen other bishops participated in the consecration, including Bishop Christopher Epting, who served as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Iowa, Bishop Kevin Jones of the Northeastern Iowa Synod ELCA and Bishop Lorna Halaas from the Western Iowa Synod ELCA.

All of the 400-plus who had gathered were masked and intentionally kept at a fraction of Lutheran Church of Hope’s capacity due to COVID safety protocols. Worshippers included visitors from the Diocese of Northern California, where Monnot had exercised her priestly ministry before being called to serve as Iowa’s tenth bishop, as well as Monnot’s friends and family.

Monnot warmly welcomed those gathered in person and online. “So many thanks to all of you gathered here, to all of the people who are joining us online. There are people joining us online from all over the world—from Hawaii to Scotland, to Eswatini and South Sudan. This is an amazing moment in our history when we can be here together with them.”

Curry then extended greetings on behalf of the entire Episcopal Church, assuring Monnot of “their prayers and the joy of this Church and the ELCA brothers, sisters, and siblings this day. We thank God for you. We love you, Iowa.”

Monnot was formally seated the following day, Dec. 19, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Des Moines, Iowa. As the diocesan bishop, Monnot will lead 58 congregations across the state of Iowa, with more than 6,700 members.

Monnot met her husband, Michael, in seminary, and in marriage they have been partners both in ministry and in life. Their ministry partnership has taken different forms at different times, including 11 years as co-rectors in California, which allowed them to both be primary parents for their three boys in their early years. Their sons are now 11, 14, and 16, and have interests ranging from Little League, through a variety of musical instruments (trumpet, violin, piano, ukulele) to theater.

Video of the consecration service and the seating are available on the Diocese of Iowa YouTube channel.

— the Rev. Meg Wagner serves as the Missioner for Congregational Development, Communications, and Reconciliation in the Diocese of Iowa.