Edmond Lee Browning, sometime Bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, passed into Larger Life yesterday, July 11. The first full-time Bishop in charge, he served among us from 1971 to 1974, when he was elected Bishop of Hawai’i. In 1985 he became the 24th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. His term ended in 1997, when he was succeeded by Frank Griswold.
Bishop Browning’s obituary (below) says a great deal about the man, above all a compassionate pastor who oversaw our Church during tumultuous times, at considerable personal cost.
I met him only once, at General Convention 2009. I took him to lunch and we talked about the Convocation. As I described the great changes and growth, his eyes filled with tears of joy. He was so thrilled to hear how far we had come from his days.
I had some questions, such as why he and his wife Patti didn’t live in Paris during his tenure. Instead, they ended up in Wiesbaden. Bishop Browning replied that at first, they had planned to live in Nice with their four children. However, 1971 was the year we sold Holy Spirit Church to the Église Réformée de France, and then-Presiding Bishop John Hines informed him that they could not stay there. “What about Paris?” I asked. The office is there, and the Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop in charge. “Sturgis Riddle” (then Dean) “told me that Paris wasn’t big enough for the both of us.” So they moved to Wiesbaden, a pleasant spa town with a large US Army base close to the French border, with good train and plane connections to Paris. They often worshiped at our parish of St. Augustine of Canterbury in that city.
Bishop Browning continued the work begun by his predecessor Stephen Bayne, bringing the six congregations of the day (today 21) out of the dying chaplaincy model into a new sense of permanent mission among the cities and nations where we live and minister, including expatriates. His prior experience in the diocese of Okinawa as priest, archdeacon and bishop was invaluable to his new ministry on the other side of the world. He and Patti continued to share happy memories of their time together in Europe, he said.
In 1994, Bishop Browning reached out to my predecessor, Jeffery Rowthorn, then Suffragan Bishop of Connecticut, and appointed him the second full-time Bishop in charge of Europe. Bishop Rowthorn cast the vision of a fully-functioning missionary jurisdiction, which eventually led to my consecration as the first Bishop in charge elected by the clergy and people of the Convocation.
We all owe Ed Browning a great debt of gratitude.
May Ed’s dwelling place be this day in Paradise, and the saints and holy angels welcome him into New Jerusalem.
Bishop Pierre Whalon
Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe