Massachusetts Bishop Alan Gates to retire, calls for election of successor

Posted May 10, 2023

[Diocese of Massachusetts] Bishop Alan M. Gates has announced his call for the election of his successor to take place in 2024. Gates has served since 2014 as the 16th bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts and plans to retire at the end of next year at age 66.

“It has been and remains my profound honor to serve as your bishop,” Gates said in a May 10 letter to the diocese posted on the diocesan website.

“Our life together is full of both joys and challenges as we strive to deepen our Christian community with one another and act as agents of God’s mission in the world. To do so with such faithful colleagues as you – clergy and lay people alike – is a privilege beyond the telling.”

Gates noted in his letter that by the end of 2024 he will be marking over a decade as bishop and 37 years of ordained ministry. “That will be the right time for me to turn my sights toward personal and family pursuits, and to make way for new episcopal leadership. It has been nearly 40 years since our diocese has had an episcopal transition unmarked by significant tragedy or grief,” he said, referencing the untimely deaths of the diocese’s 14th and 15th bishops–Bishop David E. Johnson’s by suicide in 1995, and that of Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE from brain cancer in 2014.

“It is my earnest desire that we effect a smooth and joyful transition, from a place of gratitude and eagerness,” Gates said. “Meanwhile, I remain your bishop, and we have plenty to do in our corner of the vineyard! Discerning priorities for mission; reimagining congregational life in response to a changing world; promoting deeper collaborations; engaging broadly with antiracism; serving as more faithful stewards of creation; all of this demands our best efforts, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and will not be put on hold.”

Bishop Carol J. Gallagher, who has been serving as assistant bishop since February of this year, will continue in her appointed role through Gates’s tenure. “We are blessed by Bishop Gallagher’s experience, joy and devotion,” Gates said in his letter.

The diocesan Standing Committee is responsible for oversight of the election and consecration of a new bishop, a process that takes, on average, about 18 months. The Standing Committee will meet later this week with Bishop Todd Ousley from the Office of Pastoral Development of the House of Bishops to begin setting a timetable and next steps.