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Thomas E. Breidenthal elected as ninth bishop of Southern Ohio

By Mary Frances Schjonberg

The Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal was elected November 11 as the 9th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio.  

[Episcopal News Service]  The Rev. Thomas E. Breidenthal was elected November 11 as the 9th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio.

Breidenthal, 55, dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel at Princeton University in New Jersey, was elected out of a field of seven nominees on the third ballot. Breidenthal was elected with 151 lay votes and 86 clergy votes. An election on that ballot required 137 votes out of a total of 272 cast in the lay order and 77 of 152 in the clergy order.

The election took place at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts on the campus of Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio, during the diocese’s 132nd annual convention.

Breidenthal will succeed Bishop Herbert Thompson Jr., 72, who retired at the end of 2005, and died unexpectedly August 16 while traveling in Italy. Bishop Suffragan Kenneth Price Jr., 63, also a nominee, has been serving as bishop in Southern Ohio. The last diocesan bishop election in Southern Ohio was in 1988.
Under the canons the Episcopal Church (III.16.4(a)), a majority of the bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan Standing Committees must consent to Breidenthal’s ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.
The consecration is scheduled for April 28, 2007, in Columbus. Price will remain as the ecclesiastical authority in the diocese until the consecration.

Complete ballot results are available at

Ordained to the priesthood in 1982, Breidenthal will bring a strong intellectual and academic background to the diocese. Prior to his position as dean at Princeton, he served for nearly a decade as the John Henry Hobart Professor of Christian Ethics and Moral Theology at General Theological Seminary in New York City. He was a senior chaplain at Harvard School in California and an Episcopal Church Foundation Fellow in Oxford, England. He also has served in two parishes, both in Oregon.

A noted author, Breidenthal has written about the issues of same-gender unions, what constitutes a Christian household and how to raise ethical children. His books include Sacred Unions: A New Guide to Life-Long Commitment, published in 2006, and Christian Households: The Sanctification of Nearness, published in 1997.

A member of ARCUSA (Anglican-Roman Catholic Consultation in the USA), Breidenthal has served on the General Board of Examining Chaplains of the Episcopal Church from 1997-2001 and as director for the Center for Jewish-Christian Studies and Relations at General Theological Seminary from 1994-1997. He also was a member of the planning and facilitation team for the 1996 Conference on Third World Debt Relief sponsored by the Office of the U.N. Anglican Observer.

He is married to Margaret Ann Garner Breidenthal, and they have two daughters, Magdalene, 20, and Lucy, 17.

The other nominees in addition to Price, who was nominated by petition, were:

  • The Rev. Robert Glenn Certain, 58, rector, St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, Palm Desert, California (Diocese of San Diego);
  • The Rev. Susan E. Goff, rector, 53, St. Christopher's Episcopal Church, Springfield, Virginia (Diocese of Virginia);
  • The Rev. Canon George Hill, 60, rector of St. Barnabas, Montgomery, Ohio (Diocese of Southern Diocese);
  • The Rev. John F. Koepke III, 53, rector, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Dayton, Ohio (Diocese of Southern Ohio); and 
  • The Rev. James B. Lemler, 55, director of mission, the Episcopal Church, New York, New York.

Hill was nominated by petition in 2005. An election planned for June 11, 2005, was postponed after the House of Bishops declared a moratorium in March 2005 on consents to bishop elections until the next meeting of General Convention in June 2006. Only one of the original nominees -- Hill -- continued in the process, while the rest withdrew their names from consideration. The Nominating Committee conducted another search after the postponed election.

Biographical information on all the nominees is posted on the diocese's website.

The Diocese of Southern Ohio represents more than 25,000 people in 40 counties. The Diocese of Southern Ohio hosted the Episcopal Church's 75th General Convention, which met June 13-21 in Columbus.