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Arkansas elects Larry R. Benfield as its 13th bishop

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
11/11/2006

The Rev. Larry R. Benfield was elected November 11 as the 12th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas  

 
[Episcopal News Service]  The Rev. Larry R. Benfield was elected November 11 as the 13th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas.

Benfield, 51, rector of Christ Church in Little Rock, was elected out of a field of five nominees on the seventh ballot. Benfield was elected with 57 lay votes and 57 clergy votes. An election on that ballot required 44 votes out of a total of 87 cast in the lay order and 55 of 108 in the clergy order. The election took place in Trinity Cathedral in Little Rock.

Benfield will succeed Bishop Larry E. Maze, 63, who will retire at the end of the year.
 
Under the canons the Episcopal Church (III.16.4(a)), a majority of the bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan Standing Committees must consent to Benfield's ordination as bishop.

Benfield is scheduled to be consecrated on January 6, 2007, at the Episcopal Collegiate School in Little Rock.

The complete ballot results are available here.

Among his many responsibilities within the Diocese of Arkansas, Benfield is secretary of the Board of Trustees, president of the Standing Committee and vice president of Executive Council.

He currently serves as editor and examination reader for the General Board of Examining Chaplains.

Before becoming rector at Christ Church, Benfield was Canon for Administration and Planned Giving Officer for the Diocese of Arkansas and served as interim rector at St. Luke's in Hot Springs, and St. Mark's in Little Rock.

Benfield earned a Master of Divinity degree from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1990 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1991.

The other nominees were:

  • The Rev. Jo Ann Barker, 57, rector of St. Mark's Church, Jonesboro, Arkansas (Diocese of Arkansas, nominated by petition);
  • The Rev. Brian N. Prior, 47, rector, Church of the Resurrection, Spokane Valley, Washington (Diocese of Spokane);
  • The Rev. Dr. Gregory H. Rickel, 43, rector, St. James' Church, Austin, Texas (Diocese of Texas); and
  • The Very Rev. John C. Ross, 51, dean, St. John's Cathedral, Knoxville, Tennessee (Diocese of East of Tennessee).

Biographical information and photographs of all the nominees, together with the nominees' responses to six questions posed by the diocesan nominating committee, are available here.
 
The Diocese of Arkansas comprises 55 congregations with 15,000 members in the state of Arkansas.