[Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina news release] It was a joyful Saturday in Durham, N.C., on July 15, when the Rt. Rev. Samuel Rodman was ordained and consecrated as the 12th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.
Rodman was elected on March 4, 2017, marking the culmination of a search that began after former N.C. bishop the Most Rev. Michael Curry was elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church at General Convention in 2015.
Approximately 1,000 people attended and participated in the two-and-a-half-hour service at Duke University Chapel, with Curry returning to North Carolina to celebrate his successor and serve as the chief consecrator.
Several bishops served as co-consecrators, including the Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts; the Rt. Rev. Rob Skirving, Bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina; the Rt. Rev. Jose McLaughlin, Bishop of the Diocese of Western North Carolina; the Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, Bishop Suffragan (retired) of the Diocese of Massachusetts; and the Rt. Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of North Carolina, who also served as bishop diocesan pro tempore during the time of diocesan transition.
[Watch video of the service here.]
The Drummers of St. Cyprian’s, Oxford, signaled the start of the service at 10:30 a.m., their synchronized rhythm immediately creating an atmosphere of high energy and celebration. The steady beat of their drums provided the backdrop for the early part of the procession, which included liturgical dancer Diana Turner-Forte, an 80-person choir comprising singers from churches across the diocese, service participants, ecumenical and interfaith clergy and diocesan clergy. As they were seated, the choir’s voices joined tympani drums and brass instruments in heralding the rest of the procession, including the visiting and co-consecrating bishops.
Readings were presented in both English and Spanish; both Spanish and American Sign Language interpreters provided translation throughout the service.
The Rt. Rev. Gayle E. Harris, Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Massachusetts, delivered the sermon, by turns drawing laughter, applause, cheers and murmurs of agreement. She spoke of how in a world of immense challenges, North Carolina is blessed, noting the state has mountains, beaches, forests, NASCAR and the best barbecue in the world. And, perhaps the biggest blessing of all, she said, is North Carolina’s proven wisdom in the selection of bishops, from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who “reminds us we’re disciples,” to Bishop Hodges-Copple and her “passion for mission and evangelism,” to the Rt. Rev. Gary Gloster, Bishop Suffragan (retired) of the Diocese of North Carolina, a “wise and faithful witness.”
“And now,” Harris said, “you have elected Sam Rodman to lead you and be a companion with you on this continuing journey.”
“He is and will be a servant child of God with you, and who I know lives in and with the gospel of Jesus Christ. He seeks not only to abide in God with hope and faith and love for himself, but to offer that readily to others,” Harris said.
After being presented gifts of his stole, chasuble, liturgical vestments from the Diocese of Botswana, cope, pectoral cross, ring, mitre, crozier and the Holy Bible, Rodman followed the exchange of The Peace with thanks, saying, “Someone asked me this week if I would be a different person after today, and I said, 'No, I’ll be the same person, just with a bigger hat.' But I feel like I have a bigger heart today…and it is that grateful heart that I offer to you, the people of North Carolina.”
Following the service, a light reception was held in Penn Pavilion on the Duke University Campus, and Rodman spent his first Sunday in his new position visiting St. Mark’s and La Guadalupana, Wilson, where before leading a bilingual service, he blessed the church’s new and nearby soccer fields.
From pre-festivities that began Friday and included a clergy luncheon with the presiding bishop and a dinner honoring Rodman, to the conclusion of Rodman’s first Sunday visitation as bishop, it was a weekend full of joy, spirit, gratitude, anticipation and excitement.
Prior to Rodman’s election, he served as the special projects officer for the Diocese of Massachusetts, a tenure that began after 16 years as the rector of St. Michael’s Church in Milton, Mass. Following the election, Rodman and his wife of 32 years, Deborah, relocated and now reside in Raleigh.
The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina encompasses the 38 central counties of North Carolina and includes 50,000 congregants, 111 worshiping communities and 10 campus ministries.