Episcopal Diocese of Texas Bishop Don Wimberly has handed over operations of the diocesan offices and the work of the diocese at large to Bishop Coadjutor Andy Doyle.
Wimberly announced his intention to step away from diocesan operations in his February 14 address to the 160th Diocesan Council. Wimberly, who will retire June 6, will continue to chair the diocesan foundations, the diocesan executive council, St. Luke's Episcopal Health System, and the board of the Austin-based Seminary of the Southwest until then.
The transition is earlier than expected, prompted by Wimberly's hospitalization in January, when Doyle stepped in for him. "This time has proven to me that [Andy] is ready and we, as a diocese, are ready to move forward," Wimberly said, adding, "I will work with him as he takes on these new roles; such a partnership is natural for us." Doyle had been Wimberly's canon to the ordinary (a position that assists the bishop in the administration of the diocese) since 2003. He was elected coadjutor (bishop with right of succession) in May 2008.
In his remarks to council, which was held February 13-14 in Houston, Doyle announced a series of town hall meetings this spring to help prioritize goals for his episcopacy.
Doyle also reaffirmed that his leadership would be in "harmony with the [Anglican Communion's 2004] Windsor Report'" and stated his belief in the importance of securing an Anglican covenant. (The Windsor Report is a document that recommended ways in which the Anglican Communion can maintain unity amid diversity of opinions, especially relating to human sexuality issues and theological interpretations. One of those recommendations was a yet-to-be-agreed-upon Anglican covenant.)
Doyle challenged church members to focus on what he called "missionary leadership" and to "seek unity over division." Echoing the Windsor Report, he said "the church is to be 'an anticipatory sign of God's healing and restorative future of the world.' Like it or not our diversity is representative of God's kingdom and the church's restorative mission is intimately contingent upon how we walk into the years that are before us as a unified people of God."
Wimberly also addressed the challenges facing the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Throughout the continuing division in the church over issues of sexuality, he said, the Diocese of Texas has remained unified and has provided a model for the rest of the church. "A bishop does none of these things alone but is the symbol of the Church's work," Wimberly told delegates and clergy. "This is your work. And, I am thankful for the stewardship you have given to the glory of God that has allowed me to work with an excellent staff -- along with you -- to whom I am eternally grateful for the many efforts that made our labors fruitful and they illustrated to me how deep our love between people of the diocese and their bishop can run. I am a blessed man."
Wimberly and his wife, Wendy, received the Bishops' Award for Ministry in honor of their many years of ministry. Wimberly was ordained to the priesthood in 1971 and served parishes in New York, Louisiana, Kansas and Florida before becoming bishop of the Diocese of Lexington (Kentucky). Following his retirement there, he served as assistant bishop in Texas for three years before being elected Bishop of Texas in 2002.
During Wimberly's six years, almost all Texas congregations have responded to the bishop's call and established a designated outreach coordinator. The diocese now has permanent deacons and many additional bi-vocational priests giving each congregation a sacramental presence. The diocesan offices have new quarters in downtown Houston adjacent to Christ Church Cathedral, and a leadership academy has been established to provide trained Christ-centered leaders throughout the diocese in a number of programs. During Wimberly's tenure, the diocese has built two churches, St. Aidan's, Cypress, and St. Catherine's of Sienna, Missouri City, and planted two more in Austin. Nine missions have become parishes. And multicultural ministry has grown on all levels.
Doyle announced during council the creation of the Rt. Rev. Don A. Wimberly Fund for Leadership to fund future educational programs that will be available to all. "Creating this legacy in his honor will enrich our diocese for future generations and will communicate our love and gratitude," Doyle said.
More information about the work of council is available here.
An interview with Doyle before he was consecrated November 22 is available here.