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J. Scott Barker becomes 11th bishop of Nebraska diocese

[Episcopal News Service] The Rev. J. Scott Barker was consecrated the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Nebraska Oct. 8 at the La Vista Convention Center in Omaha before an excited, energetic congregation of 700.

Ecumenical and interfaith guests were included in the gathering, considered a "homecoming" for Barker, 48, an Omaha native who had served congregations locally and in upstate New York prior to his June 4 election.

"It was a great event," the Rev. Canon Judi Yeates, diocesan canon to the ordinary, said Oct. 10 about the Saturday celebration and consecration. "Everybody's very excited about Fr. Scott coming back and being our bishop. There’s a lot of excitement and energy."

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori served as chief consecrator. Included among the co-consecrators was the Rt. Rev. Joe Goodwin Burnett, Barker's predecessor, who resigned to become assistant bishop of Maryland.

Other co-consecrating bishops included Mark Sisk of New York; Alan Scarfe of Iowa; John Smylie of Wyoming; Dean E. Wolfe of Kansas; Wayne Smith of Missouri and Edward Konieczny of Oklahoma, as well as Julio Cesar Holguin of the Dominican Republic, which has a companion relationship with the Nebraska diocese.

Also attending were the Rt. Rev. David DeFreese of the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and representatives from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha, the Methodist Church and the diocese's Tri-Faith Initiatives partnership with the Muslim and Jewish community, Yeates said.

Jefferts Schori, during an earlier gathering of media representatives in Omaha, had called the Tri-Faith Initiative "one of the leading examples in the Episcopal church of what's possible in terms of Abrahamic reconciliation and understanding."

She often shares the partnership's story, she said, "because people don't know that something like this is possible, and here it is in Omaha, in the center of the United States."

She called it "a witness and an example to the rest of the nation and to the rest of world. There is nothing like this in New York City, Washington, D.C., or Chicago. There are small initiatives that are usually bilateral — Jews and Episcopalians ... but this is the only intentional community that involves all three."

The choir from Church of the Resurrection, where Barker had served as rector prior to accepting a call to serve as rector of Christ Church in Warwick, New York, performed a musical selection during the service, she said. Other music was provided under the direction of Marty Wheeler Burnett, director of music at Trinity Cathedral.

The Rev. Thomas Brown, rector of the Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, Massachusetts, served as guest preacher and also called Barker's consecration a homecoming and reunion.

In addition to serving as rector of Resurrection in Omaha (1996-2002), Barker had also served as assistant to the dean at Trinity Cathedral and as chaplain at the Browne Talbot School in Omaha from 1999 to 2002.

A 1985 graduate of Yale College, Barker briefly attended law school at Boston University before enrolling in the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. He graduated and was ordained to the priesthood in 1992 in the Diocese of Nebraska.

Barker was elected on the second ballot from a field of three nominees at a special convention held at St. Mark's Pro-Cathedral in Hastings.

He will be formally seated at Trinity Cathedral on Sunday, Nov. 20, Yeates said.

Barker is married to Anne and they have two children; Emily, who attends Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, and son Sam, who attends the State University of New York in Geneseo.

The Diocese of Nebraska represents some 8,000 Episcopalians in 52 parishes and encompasses the entire state of Nebraska.

-- The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a correspondent for the Episcopal News Service. She is based in Los Angeles.

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