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Ecumenical officer Christopher Epting announces retirement

[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. C. Christopher Epting, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori's deputy for ecumenical and interreligious relations, has announced his retirement at the end of 2009, according to a release from the Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs.
 
"It has been a distinct privilege to serve two presiding bishops and this church in the ongoing quest for Christian unity," Epting said. "As we move into the future, ecumenical and interreligious work will have to be done differently, and fresh thinking will be necessary to see how this might best be accomplished."
 
"I am very grateful for Bishop Epting's abundant and effective gifts in ecumenical and interreligious work over the last several years," said Jefferts Schori. "We will miss him and his gifts."
 
According to the Presiding Bishop's office, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ferguson, associate deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations since 2001, will serve as interim ecumenical officer after Epting's retirement.
 
 "It's been a pleasure to work with Bishop Epting, and I am glad to serve as interim," Ferguson said. "Serving as associate deputy for the last eight years brings important continuity to our ecumenical partnerships. I have a strong commitment to the ecumenical and interreligious engagement of the Episcopal Church."
 
Epting was elected Bishop of the Diocese of Iowa in 1988, following 16 years as a parish priest in the Diocese of Central Florida. During his tenure in Iowa, Epting focused on the ministry of all the baptized, the renewal of the diaconate, spiritual formation, and ecumenical relations both locally and nationally. He was a leader in the state council of churches, Ecumenical Ministries of Iowa, and chaired the Episcopal Church's writing team for "Called to Common Mission" effecting full communion between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
 
In 2001, then-Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold asked Epting to serve as ecumenical officer, marking the first time a bishop was given this responsibility. As ecumenical officer, Epting served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches, and staffed bilateral dialogues with the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches, the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee, and the Jewish-Christian dialogue of the National Council of Churches. From 2001 until 2009, he served on the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations. 
 
Epting is a graduate of the University of Florida and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and holds an STM from General Theological Seminary.
 
Following his retirement as ecumenical officer, Epting will serve as interim dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Davenport, Iowa.

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