PORTLAND, Maine — The Rt. Rev. Chilton R. Knudsen, the first woman to serve as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine, on Saturday handed a shepherd’s staff — the symbol of the office — over to her successor at the seating and investiture of Bishop Stephen Taylor Lane.
Lane, 58, was elected bishop in October at the annual diocesan convention in Bangor. Ordained in 1978, he served in upstate New York in a number of congregations and diocesan staff roles. Lane was the canon for deployment and ministry development in the Diocese of Rochester when he was elected.
“The installation of a bishop is one of the most dramatic services in our worship,” he said earlier this month. “Beginning with a pounding on the door of the cathedral to be let in, then Bishop Knudsen and I exchanging the crozier — the symbol of our role as chief shepherd — and finally I’ll be seated in the cathedra, or bishop’s chair, located in the cathedral.”
The highly symbolic service was held at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland four months after Lane was consecrated bishop. He spent the summer serving as bishop coadjutor alongside Knudsen. The two participated in July and August in the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, with bishops from around the world.
Knudsen, 62, was elected the first female Episcopal bishop in November 1997 and was consecrated the following March. In the days leading up to Saturday’s investiture service, she attended a series of retirement services and dinners in her honor around the state. At the final event, held Friday night in Portland, Knudsen’s official portrait was unveiled. It will hang in the parish hall of the cathedral alongside portraits of the men who served as bishops before her.
The painting is by Ronald Frontin of South Thomaston, who is known for his portraits of the state’s most influential people. Frontin’s subjects have included former U.S. Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, ex-Gov. John McKernan and retired Maine Supreme Court Justice Paul Rudman.
“Ronald is not only a truly gifted artist,” Knudsen said earlier this month. “He is a reverently attentive student of human vocation. His portrait work, indeed all his art, seeks not just the rendering of likeness, but the story of his subject as expressed through their life’s work.
“The backdrop of [my] painting is the cathedral, the spiritual center of our diocese and the place where my ministry began,” she continued. “When I was elected, I requested that my crozier be crafted by a member of the Penobscot Nation, one of the native people of Maine. That crozier in the portrait is my tribute to all of our native communities.”
Knudsen said earlier this month that she plans to focus the next phase of her ministry on Maine’s sister diocese in Haiti after some rest and travel.
“I’m looking forward to doing something I haven’t done in nearly 30 years: not working on Christmas and spending the entire day with my family,” she said.