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John C. Bauerschmidt elected as 11th bishop of Tennessee

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
10/28/2006

  

 
[Episcopal News Service]  The Rev. John C. Bauerschmidt, rector of Christ Church, Covington, in the Diocese of Louisiana, was elected October 28 to be the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee.

Bauerschmidt, 47, was elected out of a field of three nominees on the 12th ballot. He was elected with 93 of 128 votes cast in the lay order (72.7 percent) and 56 of 84 votes cast in the clergy order (67.7 percent). In Tennessee, both orders must cast two-thirds (66.7 percent) of their votes in favor of a single nominee on the same ballot.

The election took place at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville, Tennessee.

Bauerschmidt will succeed Bishop Bertram Herlong, who turned 72 on October 16 and expects to retire later this year.

The election happened during the diocese's fourth attempt to choose a successor to Herlong. Results of the October 28 balloting are available at http://www.tnbishopsearch.org/election1028.html.

Bauerschmidt was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, while his father served in the United States Navy. He grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, from 1977-1981, during which time he began the ordination process in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina.

Bauerschmidt attended the General Theological Seminary from 1981-1984. In 1984, he was ordained deacon by Bishop William Beckham of Upper South Carolina and became the curate of All Saints' Church, Worcester, in the Diocese of Western Massachusetts. Beckham ordained him to the priesthood in 1985.

He and his wife Caroline were married in 1986. They have two sons and a daughter.

In 1987, Bauerschmidt became a graduate student at New College at Oxford University, England. He was a priest-librarian (chaplain) at Pusey House, an Anglican house of studies and chaplaincy to the University community. In 1992, he became rector of Christ Church, Albemarle, in the Diocese of North Carolina, serving until 1997. While there he completed a D.Phil. thesis for Oxford and was awarded the degree in 1996. He became rector of Christ Church, Covington, in 1997.

The other nominees were: the Rev. James L. Burns, 60, rector, Church of the Heavenly Rest, New York, Diocese of New York; and the Rev. Carter N. Paden, 53, rector, St. Peter's Episcopal Church and School, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Diocese of East Tennessee.

The Rev. Thack H. Dyson, 50, of St. Paul's Church, Daphne, Alabama, and the Rev. Dr. Russell Jones Levenson, Jr., 44, of Christ Church Parish, Pensacola, Florida, had withdrawn their names from consideration before the election. Both priests are from the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast.

More information about all the nominees is available here.

The first meeting of the electing convention on March 18 recessed after 14 ballots. The lay and clergy electors returned to Christ Church Cathedral March 25. They cast 11 more ballots without success. The delegates cast another 11 ballots on May 6.

The May 6 results are available at http://www.tnbishopsearch.org/election.html. The results of the March 25 Tennessee balloting can be seen at http://www.tnbishopsearch.org/election-old2.html. The March 18 ballots are available at http://www.tnbishopsearch.org/election-old.html.

Herlong, who intends to retire at the end of this year, reconfigured the Episcopate Committee in May and charged the members with gathering new names and offering a slate of three to five names.

The slate announced September 20 did not include any of the original nominees: the Rev. Canon Brian Cox, 55, rector, Christ the King Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, California; the Rev. Dr. Winston B. Charles, 57, rector, Christ Church, Raleigh, North Carolina (nominated by petition); the Rev. Canon James B. Magness, 59, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Kentucky; and the Rev. Canon Neal O. Michell, 53, canon missioner for strategic development, Diocese of Dallas.

In the Diocese of Tennessee, it is not unusual for bishop elections to require a number of ballots. Herlong was elected after 15 ballots and it took 39 ballots to elect his predecessor.

One reason for the length of the process is the supermajority rule.

The Diocese of Tennessee comprises about 15,000 members worshipping in 51 congregations in the area between the north and south borders of Tennessee, the Tennessee River (west) and approximately the Eastern Time line.