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WESTERN NEW YORK: William Franklin consecrated as 11th bishop

[Diocese of Western New York] The May 1 installation and seating of the Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin at St. Paul's Cathedral in Buffalo, New York, concluded a joyous weekend of festivities that reflected the diocese's diversity and hope for the future.

On April 30, Franklin, 64, was ordained and consecrated as the diocese's 11th bishop in a two-hour service that drew about 950 local, national and international, ecumenical, interfaith and other guests to the Center for the Arts at the New York State University at Buffalo North Campus in Amherst, New York.

A 130-voice diocesan choir, a diocesan youth choir and bell choir offered anthems in advance of the procession and throughout the service. The choirs and congregation chanted the refrain, and the verses of "Veni Sancte Spiritus" were prayed in English, Spanish, Seneca, Arabic, Burmese, Dinka, Trigrina, Swahili and French by representatives of the diocese's growing population of immigrants.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori was chief consecrator at the April 30 service. A short video of the consecration may be viewed here.

Co-consecrating bishops were the Rt. Rev. Mark Sisk of New York and the Rt. Rev. Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.

Bishop Blair Couch of the Moravian Church and Bishop Marie Jerge of the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, two churches with which the Episcopal Church is in full communion, also participated.

International guests included Archbishop Colin Johnson of Toronto in the Anglican Church of Canada and retired Archbishop of Perth Peter Carnley, Anglican Church in Australia.

The Most Rev. Frank Griswold, who served as the 25th presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, was among the 23 bishops who joined in the laying on of hands during Franklin's consecration.

"Bill and I were faculty colleagues at General Theological Seminary," Bishop Thomas Breidenthal of Southern Ohio said at the outset of his sermon. "I have experienced first hand Bill's great gifts as a teacher, administrator and pastor, and I look forward to working side by side with him once again."

The altar frontal and lectern fall used during the service were designed by the Reinvestments Group from St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Westfield, New York. The design represents the natural terrain of the diocese, as well as the natural and liturgical seasons of the year. Churches throughout the diocese donated fabrics that had once been used at their own altars.

During the ceremony, Western New York's retiring Bishop Michael Garrison, passed the diocese's historic crozier to Franklin, symbolizing the transfer of jurisdiction. David Bowman, the diocese's ninth bishop, accompanied Garrison in presenting the crozier.

Franklin was also presented with a crozier crafted by Art Werner, a member of Episcopal Church of the Advent in Kenmore, New York. The design was inspired by that of a 13th century crozier carved from rock crystal. Werner's design was made from cherry wood native to Western New York and incorporated a dogwood tree blossom, recognized by Western New Yorkers as a harbinger of spring.

The gold pectoral cross Franklin received was also locally designed and created. The cross was a gift from the clergy of the diocese, some of whom donated old gold and silver jewelry towards the project. The Jerusalem-style cross includes a concealed cross made from a portion of the silver that had been donated.

The newly consecrated bishop emerged from the Center for the Arts after the service to discover that a large statue of a buffalo just outside the entrance had been dressed in cope and miter by a group of diocesan youth. The group of 58 had taken part in the "Consecration Overnight" held the preceding night at the diocesan center during which they enjoyed an hour's visit with Jefferts Schori, Garrison and Bishop-elect Franklin.

When Franklin knocked on the door of St. Paul's Cathedral on Sunday afternoon at the start of a 4 p.m. Evensong service, he used a second historic crozier. Wrought of wood, stone and ornate silver, the crozier weighs about 25 pounds. Three resounding knocks left no doubt the new bishop was at the door. DeLiza Spangler, dean of the cathedral, and Reid Heffner, senior warden, opened the door and welcomed Franklin to be officially seated.

Franklin was elected Nov. 20, 2010 on the seventh ballot out of a field of four nominees. He succeeds Garrison, who was elected in 1999.

Franklin had served as the senior associate priest at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, since July 2010, having returned from five years in Italy serving as an associate priest at St. Paul's Within-the-Walls in Rome, a post he took shortly after his 2005 ordination. While in Italy, he also served as associate director of the American Academy in Rome, as a fellow and associate priest of the Anglican Centre in Rome and vicar of the Church of the Resurrection in Orvieto.

He previously was dean of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, and was also a professor at General Theological Seminary and at St. John's University in Minnesota.

Franklin was born in Brookhaven, Mississippi, on Jan. 3, 1947. He holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and a Ph.D. in church history from Harvard.

In the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe Franklin served as a member and president of the Council of Advice and as a member of the leadership team and Weaver for the Transformed by Stories Christian formation program in the European Institute of Christian Studies.

As a member of the laity he served in the Diocese of Minnesota on the Standing Committee and as chairman of the board of the Episcopal House of Prayer Retreat Center.

For the wider Episcopal Church he served on the Standing Commission on Ministry Development and as chair of its theological committee. He served on the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations, and was appointed a consultant to the 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops by the archbishop of Canterbury.

He and his wife, Carmela Vircillo Franklin, a scholar in medieval studies at Columbia University, have been married since 1971. They have two adult daughters.

The Diocese of Western New York includes 59 congregations and about 16,000 Episcopalians. It comprises the seven westernmost counties of New York State.

-- Laurie Wozniak is director of communication for the Diocese of Western New York.

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