The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts Logo

Text Resize

-A +A

Noting that he is now in his 19th year as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE announced on Jan. 15 his call for the election of a bishop coadjutor to succeed him upon his retirement.  The proposed date for the electing convention is April 5, 2014. 

“I love being your bishop and it is an honor to serve you,” Shaw said in a letter announcing his The Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJEThe Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJEdecision, sent to diocesan clergy and leadership.  “These years have been some of the richest years of my life.  All of you and this work have taught me much about myself and the nature of our loving God for which I will always be grateful.  I am full of gratitude for all that God has given us to do:  the challenges God has offered us, the opportunities and all the experiences of God’s abundance which we have experienced in our life together.”  [Full text of the letter appears below.]

Oversight of the election process is the responsibility of the diocesan Standing Committee, with the leadership of its president, the Rev. Zenetta Armstrong, Rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mattapan, and its vice president, David Bergquist of Christ Church in South Hamilton.  The Standing Committee will meet on Feb. 11 with the Rt. Rev. Clay Matthews, the Episcopal Church’s bishop for pastoral development, to begin its work, which will include appointing nominating and transition committees.  [Text of a Jan. 17 Standing Committee letter is available here.] 

It is anticipated that the consecration of the new bishop will take place in the fall of 2014.  Following that, Shaw and the new bishop will work together for a period of time before Shaw’s retirement, the date of which is still to be determined. 

In his letter, Shaw outlined his priorities for the ongoing work of the diocese in the meantime.  Those include implementing the mission projects funded by the diocese’s nearly complete $20-million Together Now fundraising campaign.  “I also am committed to the work of our newly established task force on nonviolence in memory of Jorge Fuentes, our research initiative on church growth and continuing in teaching and outreach through our communications media—all of this in addition to the ongoing work of the diocese.  I am full of energy and enthusiasm to do this work with you,” he said.  “As always I ask for your prayers and I assure you of mine as we begin this new chapter together.”

Shaw, who will be 68 in August 2013, was consecrated a bishop on Sept. 24, 1994, and became the 15th bishop of Massachusetts on Jan. 15, 1995.  He is a life-professed member of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, a religious order of priests and lay brothers in the Episcopal Church.  [Full bio available here.] 

Established in 1784 and comprising 185 congregations across the eastern third of the state, the Diocese of Massachusetts is among the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest, in terms of membership.  In addition to Shaw, the Diocese of Massachusetts is served by a bishop suffragan (an assisting bishop), the Rt. Rev. Gayle Elizabeth Harris.

#  #  #

The text of Bishop Shaw's letter follows:

January 15, 2013

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

This past September I entered my 19th year as your bishop.  Our Together Now fundraising campaign is successfully approaching its goal, and our Diocesan Convention has set a clear course for our work over the next few years.  These past several months have been a time for me to reflect on all that we have accomplished together and how we are being called forward by God.  I will be turning 68 this year.  From my prayer and conversation with my community, friends and family, I have decided to call for the election of my successor, a bishop coadjutor.  The election will take place at a special convention proposed for April 5, 2014.

I love being your bishop and it is an honor to serve you.  These years have been some of the richest years of my life.  All of you and this work have taught me much about myself and the nature of our loving God for which I will always be grateful.  I am full of gratitude for all that God has given us to do:  the challenges God has offered us, the opportunities and all the experiences of God’s abundance in our life together.

The Standing Committee, under the strong leadership of Zenetta Armstrong and David Bergquist, will be meeting with the Rt. Rev. Clay Matthews, the Episcopal Church’s bishop for pastoral development, on Feb. 11 to begin laying out a more specific timeline for the work of the nominating and transition committees that the Standing Committee will appoint.  You will be hearing more from the Standing Committee very soon. 

To allow adequate time for the election and consent process, and to accommodate the presiding bishop’s schedule, the consecration of the bishop coadjutor will most likely take place in the fall of 2014.  Following that, I and the bishop coadjutor will work together for a period of time before I retire, the length of which I will determine. 

We are at the beginning of a process which we’ll need to take one step at a time.  There will be plenty of time to celebrate all that we have accomplished.  In the meantime, all of us, laity and clergy, Bishop Gayle Harris, our excellent diocesan staff and I, have a great deal of work to do together over these next years.  As I’ve said, our most recent Diocesan Convention gave us a clear mandate to fulfill our current mission strategy through the projects funded by the Together Now campaign.  I also am committed to the work of our newly established task force on nonviolence in memory of Jorge Fuentes, our research initiative on church growth and continuing in teaching and outreach through our communications media—all of this in addition to the ongoing work of the diocese.  I am full of energy and enthusiasm to do this work with you.

As always I ask for your prayers and I assure you of mine as we begin this new chapter together.

Faithfully,
/s/ M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE