George Dibrell Young becomes fourth bishop of East Tennessee diocese

June 26, 2011

More than 800 local, national and ecumenical guests gathered at Church of the Ascension in Knoxville, Tennessee, June 25 for the two-hour ordination service of the Rt. Rev. George Dibrell Young III as fourth bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee.

Among the 21 bishops who were present for Young's consecration were the Rev. H. Julian Gordy, bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with which the Episcopal Church is in full communion, and the Most Rev. Richard F. Stika, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was chief consecrator. Among the co-consecrators were bishops John C. Bauerschmidt of Tennessee; Don Edward Johnson of West Tennessee; the Rt. Rev. Frank Stanley Cerveny, sixth bishop of the Diocese of Florida; the Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, eighth bishop of the Diocese of Florida; the Rt. Rev. Charles Lovett Keyser, assisting bishop of the Diocese of Florida; and the Rt. Rev. William E. Sanders, first bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee.

Preacher for the service was the Rev. Richard S. Westbury Jr., rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where Young's wife, the Rev. Kammy Young, is assistant rector.

Westbury, who has been a friend of Young's since seminary, referenced Henri Nouwen, who spoke about the temptation of choosing power over love and being the leader over being led. "Now here we are in this place, and each one of us is challenged to consider where we are at our own relationship with God … what it means to be truly a servant in the Kingdom of God," Westbury said.

"The good news is that the idea of power and control are contradictory to who George is. George likes people. He really cares about people. He loves to engage people. His is a spirit who loves to encourage people around him. He looks for ways to empower the people around him to realize their potential. He's a person who is willing to sacrifice for the other. You can't ask for anything more – that's the gift you're receiving today," he said.

A combined choir from Church of the Ascension, St. John's Cathedral, and St. Elizabeth, all in Knoxville, and St. Andrew, Maryville, sang before and throughout the service. The congregation and choir chanted "Veni Sancte Spiritus" while 21 bishops laid hands on Young during his consecration. Ascension's Organist and Director of Music James Garvey was joined by Conductor Philip Newton, director of music ministries at St. Timothy, Signal Mountain. The choir was accompanied by trumpets, horn, trombone, tuba and timpani. Fiddle music by Christie Burns and Michael Lester was featured during communion. The duo provided music the previous evening at a celebratory dinner with the presiding bishop and then bishop-elect Young at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Knoxville.

Young was presented with a ring – placed on his finger by his wife during the service – that was designed and made locally by the Eppersons. It features the diocesan seal: Three crosses on the background of a shield symbolizing the three dioceses now present in Tennessee. Young's gold pectoral cross was a gift from the women of the diocese. Several of Young's vestments were gifts from Bishop Keyser, St. Peter's Church in Fernandina Beach, Florida, where Young was formerly rector, and the Diocese of Florida. The new bishop's wife, daughter Lucy, and son George, clothed Young with his stole, chasuble, pectoral cross and miter during the service.

Young succeeds the Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg, who has served the diocese as its third bishop since 1999.

During the service, vonRosenberg presented Young with a crosier, made by Mark Williams, a Chattanooga craftsman. Young worked with Williams to create a simple design for the pastoral staff that is reminiscent of art deco style, using cherry and maple woods. The design includes a hand-carved braid at the top of the shaft, and an approximately eight-inch section of flame maple between the shaft and the crook.

"This staff is a gift from the clergy of the Diocese of East Tennessee," vonRosenberg said to Young. "You are their bishop and you are my bishop."

Applause erupted in the church as the presiding bishop said, "Greet your new bishop and his family."

On June 26, Young was seated as the bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee at St. John's Cathedral in Knoxville.

Young served as the rector of St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Fernandina Beach, Florida, from 1997 to 2011. Previously, he served as rector of St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church, Jacksonville, Florida, for five years, and as assistant at St. Giles Episcopal Church, Northbrook, Illinois, for two years. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology from Florida State University in 1978 and a Master of Divinity degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, in 1990. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1990.

The Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee is approximately 14,350 square miles in area, comprising 34 counties in East Tennessee and three counties in North Georgia with the Cumberland Plateau as the western border. There are 45 congregations and five worshiping communities servicing nearly 16,000 active members. The population of the diocese is concentrated in the major metropolitan areas: Chattanooga, Knoxville and the Tri-Cities area, which includes Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City, areas totaling more than 2.4 million people according to Tennessee State Government statistics.

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