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Newark elects Mark Beckwith as its next bishop

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

The Rev. Mark M. Beckwith is elected Bishop of Bewark on teh third ballot September 23.  

[Episcopal News Service]  The Rev. Mark M. Beckwith was elected September 23 as the tenth bishop of Newark.

Beckwith, 54, was elected out of an initial field of six nominees on the third ballot. To be elected on that ballot, based on the number of votes cast, a nominee needed 80 votes in the clergy order and 160 in the lay order. Beckwith received 87 clergy votes and 166 lay votes. The results of the balloting, which were announced at 11:48 a.m., are available at

The election took place at the Robert Treat Hotel in downtown Newark, a short walk from Trinity & St. Philip's Cathedral where the electing convention celebrated Eucharist earlier in the day.

Beckwith will succeed Bishop John Palmer Croneberger, 68, who plans to retire after the new bishop is consecrated and installed on January 27, 2007. Croneberger became bishop coadjutor November 21, 1998 and succeeded Bishop John Shelby Spong in January 2000.

 “Today the Holy Spirit has invited us all on a new journey to build on the extraordinary witness and work of the Diocese of Newark, trusting in the power of Christ and the strength of the Spirit to learn, to grow, to be faithful, to be hopeful,” Beckwith told the convention via telephone.

Croneberger told the convention that being elected by such a consensus on the third ballot is a “wonderful way to begin an episcopate.”

As in all episcopal elections, Newark's choice will require the consent of a majority of the church's diocesan standing committees and bishops with jurisdiction. Those consents must be given within 120 days of the electing diocese's standing committee sending the a certificate of election to the Presiding Bishop and the Standing Committees of all the dioceses. There are 126 days before the consecration date.

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold has made it a practice not to comment on diocesan election processes.

Beckwith is the rector of All Saints Church in Worcester, Massachusetts. He served in the Diocese of Newark earlier in his priestly life. He was associate rector at St. Peter's Church, Morristown, from 1982-1985, and was rector of Christ Church, Hackensack, from 1985-1993.

The other nominees were:

  • the Rev. Canon Michael Lee Barlowe, 50, officer for congregational development, Diocese of California;
  • the Rt. Rev. Carol Joy Gallagher, 50, assistant bishop of the Diocese of Newark (nominated by petititon);
  • the Rev. William A. Potter, 58, rector of St. Luke's Church, Hope, New Jersey (nominated by petititon and who withdrew after the second ballot);
  • the Very Rev. Petero Sabune, 53, pastor and chaplain, Sing Sing Correctional Facility and associate at Trinity Church, both located in Ossining, New York; and
  • the Rev. William "Chip" Stokes, rector, 49, St. Paul's Church in Delray Beach, Florida.

More biographical information about each of the nominees is available here

Barlowe has lived with his male partner, also an Episcopal priest, for 24 years. The other five have been married between 24 and 31 years.

The committee gave all of its potential nominees the chance to withdraw after the action of General Convention and none did, Wilson said. Four potential nominees, all women, withdrew at various points in the process before the start of General Convention. It is not unusual in a nomination process for a person's name to be put forward, for that person to initially agree to engage in the process's mutual discernment and then to withdraw.

A press released posted on the diocese's website said that the nominating committee "based its choices solely on how the nominees matched the profile of the diocese and did not eliminate anyone because of their race, gender or sexual orientation."