Maryland elects Eugene Sutton as 14th bishop

March 28, 2008

The Rev. Canon Eugene Taylor Sutton was elected March 29 as the 14th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

Sutton, 54, canon pastor at Washington National Cathedral and director of the Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage (Diocese of Washington), was elected the first ballot out of a field of five nominees. The election took place at St. James' Church, Lafayette Square, Baltimore.

Under the canons the Episcopal Church (III.16.4 (a)), a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to Sutton's election and ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving the consent request.

Sutton has served parishes in the dioceses of New Jersey and Washington. He has also taught homiletics and liturgics at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and General Theological Seminary. He’s also served as assistant to the bishop in the Diocese of New Jersey. Sutton is a frequent leader of retreats and conferences on prayer, preaching, spirituality and mission. Married to Sonya Subbayya Sutton, their family includes four children and stepchildren.

More information about Sutton is available here.

"I am both honored and humbled to be elected your bishop in the wonderful Diocese of Maryland. I, Sonya and our family look forward to being among you as fellow travelers in this exciting journey," Sutton said following the election. "I would like to express my hopes and dreams for our new ministry together in the form of a prayer. We continually give thanks to God, who in Christ makes "a new creation…the old has passed away, behold, all things have become new.'"

The search process for the successor to Bishop Robert W. Ihloff, who retired in April 2007, began in February 2007. Maryland's Bishop Suffragan John L. Rabb, was named bishop-in-charge of the diocese by the Standing Committee effective April 11, 2007. He will resume his suffragan position with the consecration of the new bishop on June 28.

The other nominees were:

  • the Rev. Canon Dr. Mark Gatza, 52, canon missioner for congregational development and clergy deployment, Diocese of Maryland;
  • the Rev. Jane Soyster Gould, 51, rector, St. Stephen's Memorial Church, Lynn, Massachusetts (Diocese of Massachusetts);
  • the Rev. Dr. John C.N. Hall, 49, rector, St. Matthew's Church, Chandler, Arizona (Diocese of Arizona); and
  • the Rev. Lura M. Kaval, 45, rector, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Linthicum, Maryland.

The Very Rev. Peter D. Eaton, 49, dean of St. John's Cathedral in Denver, Colorado, withdrew his name from the slate on March 11. According to a statement from the Rev. Scott P. Bellows, president of the Maryland Standing Committee, Eaton said in a letter that having been guided in the past "the question, 'Where is Love leading us,'" he and his wife, Kate, had "come to see that Love is calling us to remain, for the time being, in our current ministries."

Photographs and detailed biographies, resumes and letters of introduction for all the nominees are available here. More information about the nominees is available here.

The Diocese of Maryland comprises approximately 44,200 Episcopalians in 117 congregations covering 10 counties and Baltimore City.

-- Matthew Davies is editor of Episcopal Life Online and Episcopal Life Media correspondent for the Anglican Communion. The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is Episcopal Life Media correspondent for Episcopal Church governance, structure, and trends, as well as news of the dioceses of Province II.

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