Julia E. Whitworth elected 17th bishop of Massachusetts

Posted May 20, 2024

[Diocese of Massachusetts] The people of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts elected the Rev. Julia E. Whitworth to succeed the Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates as the 17th bishop of the diocese during a special electing convention held May 18 at Trinity Church in Boston.

Whitworth was elected on the fourth ballot, receiving 118 clergy votes and 155 lay votes, with 110 and 146 needed, respectively, for election.

“I would like to take a moment just to express my deep, deep gratitude for you, for the work that you do to make disciples, protect creation, promote justice and love Jesus, and for the opportunity to join you in that work as your bishop-elect,” Whitworth said, addressing the convention via Zoom. “I am honored, I am flabbergasted, I am overjoyed, I am overwhelmed, and I feel it a deep, deep privilege to be called in this way.”

Whitworth, who has served as rector of Trinity Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, since 2016, is the first woman to be elected to lead the Diocese of Massachusetts as diocesan bishop. Her election must now receive consent from a majority of The Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishops and a majority of its diocesan standing committees.  Pending consent, the bishop-elect’s consecration is scheduled to take place on Oct. 19 at Trinity Church in Boston.

Whitworth was elected from a slate of five nominees. The others were the Rev. Brendan J. Barnicle, rector of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Wilsonville, Oregon; the Rev. Edwin D. Johnson, director of organizing for Episcopal City Mission in Boston; the Rev. Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa, canon for Immigration and Multicultural Ministries in the Diocese of Massachusetts; and, the Rev. Gideon L.K. Pollach, rector of St. John’s Church in Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

“The diocese is eager to embrace a hopeful future and a pragmatic present. Julia Whitworth brings gifts of creativity and joy, along with solid experience and accomplishments at the diocesan and parish levels, which have prepared her for Spirit-driven leadership in our midst,” Gates said.  “I look forward to having our bishop-elect join me and Assistant Bishop Carol Gallagher over the summer to serve together in preparing for a healthy and faithful transition in October.”

Gates became the 16th bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts in September 2014. In preparation for retirement, he plans to resign his office at the time of the bishop-elect’s consecration in October.

The Diocese of Massachusetts, established in 1784, is among the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest, in terms of baptized membership, and comprises 180 parishes, missions, chapels and chaplaincies in eastern Massachusetts.