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From Columbus: Committee recommends four bishop consents

By Melodie Woerman

The Venerable Dena Harrison was elected the Diocese of Texas' second bishop suffragan.  

The Rev. Steven Todd Ousley was elected as its bishop coadjutor to the the Diocese of Eastern Michigan.  

The Rev. David Mitchell Reed, 49, rector, St. Alban's Church, Harlingen, was elected bishop suffragan by the Diocese of West Texas.  

The Very Rev. Canon William H. Love, 48, rector, St. Mary's, Lake Luzerne, New York, was elected bishop coadjutor by the Diocese of Albany.  

[Episcopal News Service]  The Joint Legislative Committee on Consecration of Bishops, during hearings on June 13, recommended that General Convention consent to the consecration of four bishops-elect. The four are the Rev. Very William Love to be bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Albany (New York), the Rev. David Reed to be bishop suffragan of the Diocese of West Texas, the Ven. Dena Harrison to be bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Texas and the Rev. Todd Ousley to be bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Eastern Michigan.

The House of Deputies will be asked to give its consent, followed by the House of Bishops.

Love, 48, was elected March 25 on the fourth ballot from a field of 11 nominees.  A native of Texas, he has spent his entire ordained ministry in the Diocese of Albany and most recently has served as rector of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Lake Luzerne, New York.  He and his wife Karen, a colonel in the Air National Guard, have two teenage children.  Eventually, Love will succeed Bishop Daniel Herzog.

Representatives from the Diocese of Albany praised Love's abilities in comments to the committee. The Rev. Carola von Wrangel, a priest in the diocese and a deputy, described Love as "a pastor, a reconciler, a healer and a leader."  The Rev. Ellen Neufeld, another Albany deputy, said Love "has been a source of healing and bringing people together" in the diocese.

Reed, 49, was also elected March 25, on the third ballot.  He is a native of Brownsville, in the Diocese of West Texas, and has served in that diocese since his ordination to the priesthood in 1984.  He was rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church, Harlingen, Texas, at the time of his election.  He and his wife Patti have two teenage children.  As suffragan bishop he will serve with the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge.

Reed was lauded by those who spoke on his behalf; he later remarked feeling as if he was at his own wake.  The Rev. Nancy Coon, deputy from West Texas, said Reed "is a man of deep faith, humility, faithfulness and prayer, with a listening hearty and an inquiring mind, one who loves the church and Jesus Christ more than anything in the world."

Harrison, 59, was elected on the third ballot in voting April 29.  She grew up in the Diocese of Texas and has spent her entire ordained ministry there.  She has been archdeacon of the diocese for the past three years; before that as canon to the ordinary and a parish priest in three congregations.  She and her husband Larry have two children and four grandchildren, with another grandchild on the way.  Assuming she receives the required consent from General Convention, Harrison will become the thirteenth woman bishop in the Episcopal Church and will serve the western region of the Diocese of Texas from offices in Austin.

Bishop Don Wimberly, diocesan bishop of Texas, praised Harrison's election as the first woman bishop in Province VII saying, "She was elected because she is extremely qualified.  She will be a great voice for the House of Bishops."  He said she has "listening ears and a warm heart."  After the committee reported that deputies and bishops had voted to recommend her for consent, Texans in the visitors' gallery serenaded Harrison with "The Eyes of Texas are Upon You."

Ousley, 44, was elected on the fifth ballot during an election May 6.  He is missioner for congregational development and clergy deployment for the Diocese of Eastern Michigan.  He is a native Texan and served in the Diocese of Texas as a parish priest until he assumed his post in Eastern Michigan.  He and his wife Ann have three sons.  Ousley will succeed Bishop Edwin M. Leidel, Jr., the first bishop of the diocese, who retires at the end of the year.

Leidel told the committee that Ousley was gifted in stewardship training, a skill the new diocese – formed in 1995 – would need.  He said the bishop-elect is also "known for being a teacher and a coach," primarily in vocational discernment.  Carol Moggo, a deputy from the Diocese of Eastern Michigan, said, "I have known [Ousley] since he came to the diocese.  He is a genuine human being who cares, is nurturing and is a wonderful facilitator."