A great day for the diocese as Dan Martins is consecrated 11th bishop of Springfield

March 20, 2011

The Rt. Rev. Daniel Hayden Martins was consecrated March 19 as the 11th bishop of theEpiscopal Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, in what promises to be a positive new beginning for the diocese.

"It was wonderful. The spirit was just very, very good and positive, and there was a strong sense of 'now we can move forward,'" said the Rev. Christopher Ashmore, president of the diocesan standing committee.

"There were many people who talked to me afterwards saying they were very excited to have Bishop Daniel consecrated as our bishop and they're very optimistic about the future. It was extremely upbeat and positive, a great day for the diocese. We were very, very pleased with how it went," added Ashmore, rector of Trinity Church in Jacksonville, Illinois.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was chief consecrator at the celebration at the First United Methodist Church of Springfield, attended by about 800 well-wishers.

Co-consecrators included two former Springfield diocesan bishops: the Rt. Rev. Peter Beckwith, who retired in February 2010 after 18 years, and his predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Donald Maynard Hultstrand (1982-1991).

Other co-consecrators were: Edward S. Little II of Northern Indiana; Russell E. Jacobus of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; and Gregory K. Kerr-Wilson of Qu'AppelleAnglican Church of Canada, Ashmore said.

Bishops also attending the consecration included: Jeffrey D. Lee of Chicago; John Buchanan, provisional bishop of Quincy, Illinois; Wendell Gibbs of Michigan; Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan; Wayne Smith of Missouri; Martin S. Field of West Missouri; Victor A. Scantlebury, assisting of Chicago; William G. Black, retired diocesan ofSouthern Ohio; Catherine M. Waynick of Indianapolis; William H. Love of Albany; Mark Lawrence of South Carolina; James Magness, bishop suffragan of federal ministries; Robert Fitzpatrick of Hawai'i; James Stanton ofDallas; and Scott Hayashi of Utah.

Representatives of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Springfield were also in attendance, said the Rev. Shawn Denney, diocesan archdeacon. "It was a great day for the diocese, a very positive and hopeful gathering," he added.

Martins has not yet been enthroned, or formally seated as bishop at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Springfield, according to Denney in a March 21 telephone interview from his office. "That will be done at a later date, probably during the Easter season. We will have another diocesan day and will invite people from around the diocese," he said.

Since his late January arrival in Springfield, Martins' first priority has been to try to visit the diocese's 38 congregations and to get acquainted with its people, Ashmore said. Martins recently led a pre-Lenten clergy retreat about conversion, "to Christ, to the church and conversion to ministry," Ashmore said.

"It was very well done and very well received by the clergy. He was able to weave in some autobiographical details which gave us a chance to get to know him better," he added.

Ashmore said the entire weekend was "very positive. The presiding bishop was here, obviously and we had a chance to chat with her as the clergy. She was very engaging with us … it was a good time. The whole weekend was very positive and set a positive, optimistic tone for the diocese," he said.

"There's something about the Episcopal Church -- it's just in our DNA to have a bishop and when we don't, things are just a little out of kilter," he added. "Now, we have a bishop and we're all feeling a little more wholesome than we did in the interim period."

As bishop, Martins' task will be "to get your parishioners out of the church door and into the world, to become witnesses to Jesus and his compassion, forgiveness and love,"
according to the Rev. Anthony Clavier, rector of St. Paul's Church, La Porte, Indiana, preacher at the consecration on the feast of St. Joseph.

"Be a pastoral bishop and draw all sides of our divided church into unity," Clavier told Martins. "Today there are people in this place together who usually would not wish to be seen together in our divided church. Jesus has enabled you to draw them together to pray for you, Dan, and to consecrate you. One hopes this is not a lost opportunity. We can find similar ways to enter into dialog without renouncing our principles. Remember that there is a chance that our principles are not God's, or not entirely of God.

The complete text of the sermon may be found here.

Martins' Sept. 18 election had been challenged in a letter sent to diocesan bishops of the Episcopal Church by both the standing committee and former provisional bishop Jerry Lamb of San Joaquin, where Martins had served as rector of St. John the Evangelist Church from 1994 to 2007.

The letter questioned Martins' apparent participation in a former bishop's Dec. 2007 attempts to remove the diocese from the Episcopal Church over differences concerning the ordination of women and gay clergy. The letter, posted on the San Joaquin website, raised "grave concerns" that Martins might attempt a similar effort in the Illinois diocese.

But the Brazilian-born, suburban Chicago-raised Martins, 58, said he left the Central California Valley diocese for an Indiana parish before the disaffiliation vote.

During his last sermon at St. Anne's Church, Warsaw in the Diocese of Northern Indiana, where he was rector from 2007 to 2010, Martins said he was "accepting a vocation, a call from the Lord, to become the Bishop of Springfield.

"When I was still a young child, I heard the voice of Jesus saying, "Follow me." And when I was in high school, I finally said back to him, "I will follow wherever you lead me." And that is precisely what I have endeavored to do over the last 40-some odd years," he said during the Jan. 10 sermon posted on his "Confessions of a Carioca" blog.

Recently, he told a State Journal-Register reporter that he anticipated "some radical changes in the concepts of the way we do church."

According to the canons (III.11.4) of the Episcopal Church, a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to a bishop-elect's ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.

During Sept. 2010 listening sessions around the diocese Martins said that while he had no intentions of attempting a diocesan disaffiliation he would not consent to the ordination and deployment of clergy who are openly gay and openly in partnered relationships, according to the news report.

Women's ordination, on the other hand, is "a done deal" in the Episcopal Church, he said, although he once told a newspaper in Stockton, Calif., that the priesthood was "a fatherly role," according to the report.

The Presiding Bishop's office announced Jan. 4 that Martins had received the required number of canonically required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction to complete the process.

At the time, the Rev. Christopher Ashmore, president of the Springfield standing committee, said he was satisfied with Martins' responses to questions raised during the search process.

"I asked him point blank; do you have any intentions of trying to exit the Episcopal Church? And he said no, it's not my agenda," Ashmore had said.

Daniel and Brenda Martins have been married 38 years and have three children.

-- The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.

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