Bishop Nominee: Julia E. Whitworth


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Letter of Introduction, Essays, Resumé:  Read Julia E. Whitworth's complete materials here.

The Rev. Julia E. Whitworth The Rev. Julia E. Whitworth

Greetings, Beloved of God in the Diocese of Massachusetts!

I am deeply honored to be nominated for election as your 17th bishop.

It is clear that you are a diocese rich with diversity, beauty, faithfulness, and passion for justice. I love that your breadth allows many points of access to the Holy: through parishes, chaplaincies, and schools; mission initiatives, ministries, and partnerships; and religious and intentional communities. As I get to know you, I notice your candor and your vision, your pragmatism and your optimism—qualities which I share. I am excited by the possibility of joining you in the work of equipping congregations for leadership, partnership, and innovation, caring for clergy and laity alike with a sense of God’s grace and abundance. Together, we can cultivate the resilience and imagination necessary to be the Church not just of today, but of tomorrow.

My path to this moment was an unusual one, via the theatre and academia as well as church leadership. Rehearsal rooms and classrooms nurtured my creative and collaborative leadership and taught me how to set vision, strategy, and boundaries for the work ahead. As a cathedral canon, I created large, joyful consecrations, confirmations, and diocesan celebrations. This work clarified for me the significant role a bishop and cathedral can play in bringing together a whole diocese to encourage and celebrate common mission, connections, and support. As we face an increasingly cynical secular society, those bonds are more important than ever to strengthen.

As rector of Trinity Church in Indianapolis I now lead a staff, pastor a congregation, and manage a campus with two independent schools and four secular not-for-profits which serve our neighbors lacking food, educational equity, and legal representation. Under my leadership we incubated a new intentional community for young adults and Trinity Haven, the first dedicated residence for LGBTQ+ youth in Indiana. I am passionate about bringing people and institutions together to dream, strategize, and implement new ways to serve our community, as well as identifying and encouraging new leaders, ordained and lay, for the Church.

I was raised in the Diocese of Virginia, in parishes where my parents still worship. There I developed a love for our liturgy and for building community, which undergirded my theatre studies at Dartmouth College and NYU. My experience of 9/11 while in New York City turned my heart back to an earlier call to ordination, and I entered Union Theological Seminary in 2007. I have been married to artist-designer Ray Neufeld for 25 years, and we have three children—Liam (17), Gregory (15), and Grace (12). We have been blessed to raise them in Episcopal churches, schools, and camps where they have been nurtured in the knowledge of the unconditional love of God in Christ.

The Episcopal Church, and the Diocese of Massachusetts specifically, has singular gifts to bring to our world today. Using our charisms of liturgical grace, intellectual inquiry, and deep hospitality, we can offer the Gospel of reconciliation, justice, love, and hope to a world that desperately needs it. We can work on congregational development through intentional strategies of evangelism and invitation—being more visible, telling our stories better— and by showing up in public arenas as advocates for justice. As a priest here, I regularly work with advocacy groups to support and, if asked, speak up for the marginalized, who are often rendered voiceless in Indiana. I would consider this a privilege and responsibility as bishop in Massachusetts as well.

I am passionate about the Church and about living out the Great Commission of Jesus in joyful community. The people, history, diversity, and beauty of your diocese are thrilling to me. If elected, I would love and lead you well. While there are challenges ahead, through collaboration, prayer, and strategy, with deep listening for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, we could do amazing God-filled work together.

I pray for the Diocese of Massachusetts daily and look forward to meeting you soon to see where the Spirit leads us.

Faithfully, with gratitude,
The Rev. Julia Whitworth

Letter of Introduction, Essays, Resumé:  Read Julia E. Whitworth's complete materials here.

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