Bath minister a finalist to become Pittsburgh Episcopal bishop

By Rick Wills, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Posted April 20, 2012, at 5:58 a.m.

Five finalists seeking to become the first permanent bishop of Pittsburgh’s reconfigured Episcopal diocese have strong records in mediating and listening to people, a church official said.

“We are clearly looking for people who are healers and reconcilers,” said the Very Rev. George Werner, former dean of Trinity Cathedral and former president of the house of deputies of the Episcopal Church, the national church’s second highest position.

In addition to mediating well, he said, the candidates “are people who build the community.” Among the finalists is the Rev. Canon Michael N. Ambler Jr., 47, of Bath, Maine.

Certified church deputies, clergy and designated diocesan leaders will vote Saturday at Trinity Cathedral, Downtown, until a nominee gets more than 50 percent of the vote. Anyone can attend the electing convention and tonight’s pre-convention meeting at 7 o’clock at the cathedral.

The bishop will take the job after a fractious decade in which the Pittsburgh diocese split in 2008. Then-Bishop Robert Duncan tried to realign it with more theologically conservative churches that opposed the U.S. leadership’s support for keeping abortions legal and the 2003 consecration of openly gay pastor V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.

Duncan formed the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. A court fight resulted over the rights to Episcopal church property.

“These kinds of scars take a long time to heal,” Werner said.

Bishops David Jones and Kenneth Price served as interim bishops for the Episcopal diocese.

“We are ready to elect a new bishop and move on,” said Werner, who is overseeing the selection.

Episcopal bishops typically keep the post until retirement, said Rich Creehan, spokesman for the diocese.

“The new bishop will likely be in the job for 10 or 15 years,” he said.

The selection committee of 15 lay and clergy members received 125 names and interviewed 24 people before narrowing the candidates to Ambler and four others: the Rev. Canon Scott T. Quinn, 57, of Crafton; the Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell, 58, of Chestnut Hill, Mass.; the Rev. R. Stanley Runnels, 59, of Kansas City, Mo.; and the Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, 49, of Denver.

(c)2012 The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)

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