Diocese of Northern Michigan elects Rayford Ray as 11th bishop[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. Rayford Ray was elected Dec. 4 as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan, pending required consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of the Episcopal Church.
Ray, 54, a member of the Episcopal Ministry Support Team in the Diocese of Northern Michigan, was elected on the second ballot of a special convention from a field of three nominees. A fourth nominee, the Rev. Nigel Taber-Hamilton, rector of St. Augustine's in-the-Woods Episcopal Church, Freeland, Washington, had earlier asked that his name be withdrawn from consideration.
"We are a life-giving people here in this diocese," said Ray, who visited the convention after his election. "It is an exciting time as we will partner together as we look at the possibilities that stand before us. We have much to do, but we will do it together as we proclaim the Gospel as we know in Jesus Christ."
Ray received 59 delegate votes and 16 congregational votes. With 88 delegates from 25 congregations present, 59 delegate votes and 13 congregational votes were required to elect at the special convention held at St. Stephen's Church in Escanaba in the state's Upper Peninsula.
According to the bylaws of the Marquette-based diocese, a nominee must receive two-thirds of the delegate vote and a simple majority of the congregational vote to be elected. To achieve a congregational vote, delegates from a congregation meet and caucus--a simple majority of those delegates is considered a congregational vote.
Ray, a four-time deputy to General Convention, has served in Northern Michigan for more than 20 years, working as ministry development coordinator, and collaborated with parishes across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He was recently an adjunct instructor at Episcopal Divinity School.
He was born in Heidelberg, Germany, on August 30, 1956, and became a U.S. citizen on his 18th birthday, according to a personal statement posted on the diocesan website.
He earned a bachelors degree in history and language arts from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. He was confirmed at age 24 at St. Andrew's Church in Lawton, Oklahoma.
A former middle school geography, social studies and American history teacher, he is a 1986 graduate of Nashotah House. He served congregations in Oklahoma until 1990, when he moved to Northern Michigan.
He is married to Suzanne Ray, also a priest in the diocese. The couple has three sons and four grandchildren.
Pending a successful consent process he will succeed Bishop James Kelsey, who was elected in 1999 and died in an auto accident in 2007.
The consecration is planned for May 21, 2011 in Marquette.
In July 2009, the Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester was elected bishop but did not receive the required consents from diocesan bishops and standing committees as outlined in Canon III.II.4(a) from the wider church.
According to the canons, a majority of bishops exercising jurisdiction and diocesan standing committees must consent to the bishop-elect's ordination as bishop within 120 days of receiving notice of the election.
Bishop Tom Ray (no relation to Rayford Ray), who preceded Bishop Kelsey, now serves as Northern Michigan's assisting bishop. "Bishop Ray has been our rock through all of this," said Linda Piper, chair of the diocese's Standing Committee in a letter posted on the diocesan website.
The other nominees were:
• the Rev. Dr. Susanna E. Metz, 60, executive director of the Center for Ministry in Small Churches at Sewanee: University of the South in Tennessee, and rector of St. John the Baptist Church, Battle Creek Tennessee (Diocese of East Tennessee);
• the Rev. Jos Tharakan, 46, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Russellville, Arkansas (Diocese of Arkansas).
The Diocese of Northern Michigan, founded in 1895, encompasses 27 congregations and about 1,770 Episcopalians in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.