Two new candidates have emerged to succeed the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts: the leader of a South End church who runs a citywide youth program, and a top official in the Episcopal Diocese who is one half of the first same-sex couple married by the retiring bishop, M. Thomas Shaw.
The Rev. Timothy E. Crellin , vicar of St. Stephen’s Church in the South End, and the Rev. Canon Margaret “Mally” Ewing Lloyd , who oversees diocesan staff and operations, were selected through a grass-roots petition process involving clergy and laypeople. They join five nominees named last month after a lengthy national search.
Shaw plans to retire in September, after having led the diocese for nearly two decades.
In 2011, Shaw, a vocal advocate for gay rights in the church, married Lloyd and the Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, the first same-sex marriage he performed.
Lloyd said she was humbled to be nominated as a candidate to replace Shaw and said she is “very excited to be part of the process.”
A former rector of Christ Church in Plymouth, Lloyd works as the diocese’s canon to the ordinary, a wide-ranging job that includes ministering to laity and clergy and overseeing diocesan staff and operations.
Lloyd likened her position with the diocese to a chief of staff. She said she is looking forward to meeting with clergy and parishioners during the open meetings next month.
“I’m really curious to hear their questions and learn what I can offer them,” Lloyd said.
Crellin said he is also excited to be nominated and looks forward to a lively conversation about the church’s future.
“I like to talk about the church and hear what people are thinking,” he said.
Crellin has been vicar of St. Stephen’s since 1999 and led youth programs that now serve 600 children across Boston and in Chelsea.
Crellin said he told his congregation at the end of Sunday services that he had been nominated and was moved when they responded with an extended standing ovation.
“They jumped to their feet,” he said, adding that the congregation has “become my family.”
James Wagner, president of the diocese’s standing committee, said the petition process allows clergy and laypeople to nominate candidates who were not tapped during the initial search. To be considered, a candidate must gain 16 signatures, six from clergy and 10 from laypeople, opening the selection procession to direct democracy.
“Essentially, this is to replace nominations to the floor,” said Wagner.
The addition of two prominent church leaders from Massachusetts enhances an already strong slate of candidates, said Wagner. “I think it’s terrific,” he added.
The election is slated for early April, following a series of public meetings with the seven candidates next month. The Diocese of Massachusetts is among the Episcopal Church’s largest, with 183 congregations in Eastern Massachusetts.
Among the five candidates chosen last month were the Rev. Holly Antolini, rector of St. James’s Church in Cambridge, and the Rev. Sam Rodman, project manager for campaign initiatives for the diocese and former rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Milton.
Also chosen were the Rev. Ronald Culmer, rector of St. Clare’s Church in Pleasanton, Calif., the Rev. Alan Gates, rector of St. Paul’s Church in Cleveland, and the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, rector of St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia.
To be named bishop, a candidate must receive majority support both among ordained clergy and among lay representatives, about 500 people in all. Wagner said that although candidates from Massachusetts may have an advantage because they are more familiar with the diocese, people may gravitate toward a “fresh, outside approach.”
“It’s entirely impossible to predict,” Wagner said.
The diocese recently completed a $20 million fund-
raising drive, but like many churches has struggled to appeal to young people. That will be a key challenge for the new bishop, Wagner said.
Several of the nominees announced last month also have Massachusetts ties. Rodman oversaw projects funded by the $20 million campaign, including collaborations among congregations. Gates, who previously worked in Massachusetts, helped establish an interfaith social justice organization at his church in Cleveland.
Peter Schworm can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.