Philip N. LaBelle elected ninth bishop of Olympia

Posted May 20, 2024

The Rev. Philip N. LaBelle was elected ninth bishop of Olympia on May 18, 2024. Photo: Diocese of Olympia

[Diocese of Olympia] The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia elected the Rev. Philip N. LaBelle as its next bishop during a May 18 special electing convention at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle, Washington.

LaBelle currently serves as rector of St. Mark’s Church in Southborough, Massachusetts. While in the Diocese of Massachusetts, he has co-led the Mission Strategy Committee, served on the Executive Committee and Diocesan Council, and directed the Fresh Start program.

“The very first thing that struck me about the Diocese of Olympia was hearing about your deep love for Jesus,” LaBelle said upon learning of his election. “Further, the desire to share that love in a predominately secular culture became all the more apparent throughout the search process, especially with the connection made between the gospel message and the intention to become the Beloved Community and to protect and heal our natural world. I am deeply honored to be called to be your bishop, to be a faithful pastor among you, and to help care for and equip the people of the Episcopal Church in Western Washington in your mission to share Jesus’ love.”

Pending consents, LaBelle will be consecrated and installed as the ninth bishop of Olympia on Sept. 14.  He will succeed Bishop Greg Rickel, who resigned on Dec. 31, 2022. The Rt. Rev. Melissa Skelton, bishop provisional, serves the diocese in the interim.

Skelton presided over the electing convention. “I’m deeply gratified that the lay and clergy delegates of the diocese have spoken,” she said.

LaBelle was elected on the fourth ballot with 91 clergy votes and 119 lay votes (76 clergy votes and 113 lay votes were needed). Clergy and lay delegates representing the nearly 100 worshiping communities across the Diocese of Olympia, which stretches south from Canada to Oregon and west from the foothills of the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

The bishop-elect was chosen from a slate of four nominees. The other nominees were the Rev. Hillary D. Raining, rector of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Gladwyne, Pennsylvania; the Ven. Jordan Haynie Ware, archdeacon for justice, Anglican Diocese of Edmonton, Canada, and rector of Good Shepherd Anglican Church, Edmonton; and the Rev. Kate E. Wesch, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Essex, Connecticut.