WYOMING: John Sheridan Smylie consecrated bishop in joyous celebration

August 1, 2010

The Rev. John Sheridan Smylie was consecrated as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming during a joyful ceremony July 31 at the Casper Events Center.

Hundreds of well-wishers, ecumenical and other guests celebrated the occasion, which represented "an icon of community working together with the Holy Spirit to create a time of celebration that leads to a season of service whose purpose is to love one another and to bring Glory to God," Smylie said in a statement posted on the diocesan website.

During the ceremony, Smylie presented a plants to each church in the diocese, symbolic of the growing relationships he hopes to cultivate, he said.

Smylie is now planning weekend visits to each of the diocese's nearly 50 congregations. He intends to develop "a vision of service" after visiting and receiving input from the congregations, said the Rev. Tristan English, diocesan communications officer.

"Our goal is to help our clergy, congregations and laity be successful in their mission and ministry. Beyond that, we need to visit with people throughout the state to hear their needs so that we can build a vision as a community," English said in an e-mail the day before the consecration.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was the chief consecrator while Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina served as homilist at the service, which included original music authored by Smylie. Curry also served as a co-consecrating bishop, along with Bishop Brian Prior of Minnesota.

Retired Wyoming bishops Bob Jones and Bruce Caldwell were among those in attendance. Smylie, 57, succeeds Caldwell, who had served since 1997 and who retired in April.

Other bishops, some from as far away as Western New York and Swaziland, joined the celebration. They included bishops Franklin Brookhart of Montana; Michael Smith of North Dakota; Michael Garrison of Western New York; Alan Scarfe of Iowa; and Meshack Mabuza of Swaziland, a partner diocese of Iowa.

The Very Rev. Dr. Katherine Hancock-Ragsdale, dean and president of the Episcopal Divinity School, also attended the festivities.

Ecumenical guests included representatives of Wyoming-area Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, American Baptist and other churches.

The service included a diocesan-wide choir under the direction of Pat and Marcia Patton and featured "Dance with the Fire," an original composition by Smylie as the offertory hymn.

Diocesan transition committee members Mary Ellen Honsaker and Sukey Hohl had also created a "consecration coloring book" to help engage parish youth in the festivities.

Prior to his March 20 election, Smylie had served as rector of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Casper. He had also served as dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in the Diocese of Spokane, Washington, and has served churches in New York and New Jersey.

He also led the Gift of Light Ministries, leading conferences and workshops. He was ordained in the Diocese of Newark, New Jersey, in 1982. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Syracuse University in New York, and a Master of Divinity from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

He will formally be seated as bishop at the regular 9:30 a.m. service on Sunday, Aug. 8 at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Laramie.

He is married to Jill Smylie, a counselor at Verda James Elementary School.

Wyoming is home to more than 5,000 Episcopalians and 48 Episcopal churches.

Related Topics: