Sean W. Rowe elected bishop of Northwestern Pennsylvania

May 18, 2007

The Rev. Sean W. Rowe was elected May 19 on the first ballot to be the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania.


Rowe, 32, is rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Franklin, Pennsylvania, in the Diocese of Northwestern PA.

Rowe was elected on the first ballot from a slate of four candidates. He was elected with 64 lay votes and 29 clergy votes. An election on that ballot required 51 votes of 101 cast in the lay order and 24 of 47 votes cast in the clergy order. The election took place at Cathedral of Saint Paul in Erie, Pennsylvania.

Under the canons the Episcopal Church (III.11.4), a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan Standing Committees must consent to Rowe’s election and ordination as bishop.

If consented, Rowe will be the youngest member of the House of Bishops.

The consecration is scheduled for September 8.

Rowe will succeed the Rt. Rev. Robert D. Rowley Jr, 65. Rowley, the diocese’s seventh bishop, announced in July 2006 that he was taking a "terminal sabbatical leave."

Rowley said in a letter to the diocese that the Standing Committee proposed the idea of a terminal sabbatical because it was concerned that "if I continued to serve as Diocesan Bishop that my physical health would be impacted."

His leave was effective immediately and will conclude August 31, a date Rowley had previously announced as his retirement date.

Rowley will hold his office until that date for pension considerations, but he asked the Standing Committee to assume ecclesiastical authority until a new bishop is elected and consecrated.

At the opening of the Saturday session, one candidate withdrew his nomination and two were nominated from the floor.

The Rev. Canon Lexa H. Shallcross, 60, rector, St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Emmaus, Pennsylvania, Diocese of Bethlehem, was a candidate.

Prior to the election, the Very Rev. James H. Adams, 55, rector, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Geneva, New York, Diocese of Rochester withdrew his nomination.

The two candidates nominated on Saturday were:

Biographical information about all of the candidates is available here.

The diocese comprises about 4,800 Episcopalians worshipping in 36 congregations.