West Missouri diocese elects Martin Scott Field as eighth bishop

November 5, 2010

The Very Rev. Martin Scott Field was elected Nov. 6 as 8th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri, pending required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of the Episcopal Church.

Field, 54, rector of St. Paul's Church in Flint, in the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan, was elected on the third ballot out of a field of two nominees. A third candidate withdrew after the second ballot.

Field received 89 of 143 votes cast in the lay order and 53 of 103 clergy votes at the election, held during the 121st annual convention meeting of the diocese at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City. A total of 52 votes was needed to elect in the clergy order and 72 in the lay order.

Pending a successful consent process, Field will succeed the Rt. Rev. Barry Howe, 67, who was elected in 1997 and last year announced his decision to retire.

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

The consecration is planned for March 5, 2011.

The other nominees were the Rev. Peter F. Casparian, 59, rector of Christ Church, Oyster Bay, in the Diocese of Long Island; and the Rev. Canon Edward Daniel Smith, 54, canon to the ordinary, Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, who withdrew after the second ballot.

The Very Rev. Douglas Johnson, chair of the diocesan transition committee, said during a Nov. 6 post-election telephone interview that the diocese is very excited about Field and future possibilities.

"The diocese has worked and prayed very, very hard to get to this point and we are very excited about moving ahead with our life as we look forward to the next episcopate in the diocese," he said.

After election results were announced, Howe telephoned Field with the news "and amplified it for everyone in the cathedral nave to hear and listen in," Johnson said. "He (Field) is excited about coming to the diocese of West Missouri and can't wait to begin his ministry here."

Johnson said the election was held within the context of Eucharist. After Field was announced as bishop-elect "we completed the worship with prayers of thanksgiving and a blessing from Bishop Howe."

During the search process, Field, who also serves currently as assistant to the bishop for congregational life and dean of the Flint River Valley Convocation in the diocese of Eastern Michigan, had said he would bring gifts of consensus-building and visionary leadership to the diocese of 50 congregations in the western half of Missouri.

He described his ministry experience as rural, urban and suburban in "settings racially homogeneous as well as settings resplendent with wide racial and ethnic diversity," in a written statement posted on the Missouri website.

His ministries have been varied, he added. He has served as a solo priest and has supervised a staff as large as a dozen employees, administered $1.5 million budgets and managed multiple parish properties valued at over $10 million, initiated communitywide ministries and participated in joint government and faith-based community initiatives.

Prior to moving to Flint in 2003, Field served congregations in Tennessee, Hawaii, Maryland, and Ohio. He has also served as assistant for congregational life to the Bishop of Eastern Michigan since Sept. 2007 and has been dean of the Flint River Valley Convocation since 2005.

He served as associate rector at St. Luke's Church in Jackson, Tennessee from 1998-2003.

While serving as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy he was also interim rector at two Tennessee congregations: St. Anne's Church in Millington (1996-1997) and St. Matthew's Church, Covington (1994-1996), and served as a non-stipendiary assistant at St. Christopher's Church in Kailua, Hawaii (1989-1993).

After a two-year stint in the Disciples of Christ Church in Maryland and Ohio, he served as youth minister at St. John's Church, Chevy Chase, in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, from 1985-1989.

He was ordained to the diaconate Oct. 10, 1991 and to the priesthood May 2, 1992. He holds a bachelor's degree in religious studies from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia and a master of divinity degree (1983) from the Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky. He is currently working on a doctor of ministry degree in congregational development at the Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

He and Donna Cassarino were married Aug. 4, 1979. The couple has two adult children.

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