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Mariann Budde consecrated as Washington's ninth bishop

[Episcopal News Service] The bells of Washington National Cathedral, silent since the Aug. 23 earthquake, rang out joyfully following the Nov. 12 consecration of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington's ninth bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde.

And though black netting draped across the cathedral ceiling was testament to ongoing repair work, colored light from the stained glass windows filtered through, one of the many expressions of joy that greeted Budde as she took her place as Washington's first female diocesan bishop succeeding the Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane who served as the eighth bishop of Washington since June 2002.

Elected by the Diocese of Washington, D.C., on June 18, Budde, 52, previously served as rector of St. John's Episcopal Church, Minneapolis. Members of that congregation were on hand to present her with vestments – symbols of her new office – during the traditional presentation of gifts.

The service began with drumming – honoring Budde's outreach to Native Americans – by the Southwest Eagle Dancers, who led the first of four processions. Then came music in Spanish – Alabaré, or I praise – a nod to her commitment to Latino ministry (she spent a month in Guatemala polishing her Spanish this summer); an anthem by Gary Davidson commissioned for the occasion, The True Shepherd; and the processional hymn, St. Patrick's Breastplate.

Readings (Ezekiel 34:11-16 and Ephesians 4:7 11-16) were given in Spanish and English and the Gospel acclamation was offered in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria, reflecting some of the diversity of the diocese.

Budde's husband, Paul, read Coleman's Bed, a poem by David Whyte. In a sometimes blunt-spoken sermon, the Rev. Linda M. Kaufman also quoted a portion of the poem:

"… Feel the way the cliff at your back
Gives shelter to your outward view
And then bring in from those horizons
All discordant elements that seek a home…"

Asking Budde to stand, Kaufman said: "Mariann, you must find places where you can lean back. … Trust the cliff because its strength goes back. Its strength is the awesome power of God. … I know in the strength of the cliff and the silence you find there you will find the strength of God wrapping his arms around you."

Kaufman noted that chief among the gifts Budde brings to the diocese are her grounding in Christ and a deep understanding of how parishes thrive.

She spoke of what it means to be a shepherd – a recurring theme in the service – saying "the shepherd is required to feed the flock justice, no matter who it comforts and who it bothers."

She also spoke of the deep love of Jesus – "the invitation from Jesus is always love" – and of the centrality of forgiveness to the faith, as set out at the beginning of the Nicene Creed.

"Forgiveness is not some little appendage to our faith," she said. "It is in the top three things we believe in. Forgiveness is central to our faith and don't you forget it."

Dressed in a simple white robe, Budde stood before Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the chief consecrator, to be examined.

"With your fellow bishops you will share in the leadership of the church throughout the world," Jefferts Schori said. "Your heritage is the faith of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked to God in hope. Your joy will be to follow him who came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many."

Asked by the presiding bishop if she was persuaded that God had called her to the office of bishop, Budde said: "I am so persuaded."

Following a recitation of the Nicene Creed, Jefferts Schori and the co-consecrating bishops gathered around Budde, laid their hands on her and prayed over her. (Co-consecrating bishops were Chane; Mark Beckwith of Newark; Brian N. Prior of Minnesota; Eugene Sutton of Maryland; Jane Holmes Dixon, retired bishop suffragan of Washington; Mary Glasspool, suffragan bishop of Los Angeles; Arthur Williams, retired bishop of Ohio; Richard H. Graham of the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; and Douglas H. Kleintop of the Northern Province of the Moravian church in North America.)

Budde was presented with a Book of Common Prayer and with vestments – a chasuble, stole and miter – a pectoral cross and ring. These were placed on her by her immediate family, sons Amos and Patrick and husband, Paul. Retiring Bishop Chane presented the crosier (shepherd's staff) of the Diocese of Washington, and the presiding bishop presented a Bible.

Then, resplendent in her robes, Budde was presented to the congregation to tumultuous applause.

"It is my great honor and joy to welcome you to your cathedral," the Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope, vicar of Washington National Cathedral, said to the new bishop. And to those gathered: "Welcome back!"

In her first blog post as bishop, Budde wrote on Nov. 12: "Thank you for your warm welcome, countless acts of kindness, and heartfelt prayers. Thank you to all who have worked so hard to ensure a smooth transition for the diocese. Thank you for gathering to praise God and rededicate ourselves to the mission of Christ, and for all who have worked so hard to make today’s worship an occasion of beauty and grace.  I am blessed to be your bishop."

The Diocese of Washington is composed of congregations in the District of Columbia and the Maryland counties of Montgomery, Prince George's, Charles and St. Mary's.

-- Lucy Chumbley is editor of the Washington Window, a publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C.


Copyright © 2011 Episcopal News Service