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First Latina bishop: Rivera ordained Olympia's suffragan


The Rev. Bavi Edna "Nedi" Rivera will be ordained and consecrated as the first bishop suffragan for the Diocese of Olympia January 22.  

[Episcopal News Service]  The Rev. Bavi Edna "Nedi" Rivera was ordained and consecrated as the first bishop suffragan for the Diocese of Olympia during a service at 1 p.m. on Saturday, January 22, at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Washington.

Rivera, 58, is the first Latin American woman bishop and only the 12th woman bishop to be ordained in the historic episcopate of the Episcopal Church.

Nedi, as she prefers to be called, was rector of St. Aidan Episcopal Church in San Francisco since 1994. She has served at several churches in the Dioceses of California and El Camino Real and as a member of various committees and boards -- particularly in areas of youth and young adult ministries -- since her ordination in 1976.

Rivera's father, Bishop Victor Manuel Rivera, who served as the Bishop of San Joaquin, California, from 1968 to 1988, was an opponent of women's ordination. For years, father and daughter agreed to disagree about the issue. However, Bishop Rivera will be participating at his daughter's ordination service along with 20 other bishops from across the country.

In electing Rivera, the diocese sought out a bishop who would lead the church in its efforts to expand ethnic ministries, evangelism and the work of faith formation. The service will highlight these areas of ministry.

Invitations were printed in Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Khmer and Arabic, the languages of the ethnic congregations of the diocese. Children and youth will play significant roles in the liturgy. "Children bring life to anything," Rivera said. "I really do believe that is one of the places where we see the kingdom. These children hold for us the vision of what the church and world can be. And they hold us to it."

A children's choir and a festival choir was drawn from congregations throughout the diocese. Music was chosen from resources old and new, including two local composers. In each element of the consecration, Rivera and the service planners were intentionally inclusive of all ages and ethnicities. "How often can the church model what God's world is supposed to look like? How do we model listening to each other's cultures? How do we model listening to children?" Rivera asked. "The church is saying we do care."

Born in 1946 to a Puerto Rican father and Anglo mother, Rivera is married and has training and experience in ministering to the terminally ill, gay and lesbian ministry, multicultural ministry and the lay caring/calling ministry.

The Episcopal Church was the first province in the Anglican Communion to ordain a woman as bishop when Barbara Harris was consecrated bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Massachusetts in February 1989. Rivera becomes the 16th woman bishop in the history of the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion. The Diocese of Olympia is composed of 33,000 Episcopalians in the western half of the state of Washington.