The Rev. Julia E. Whitworth elected bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts

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

The people of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts have elected an Indianapolis priest to be their next bishop.

At the special electing convention held on Saturday, May 18, clergy and lay delegates elected the Rev. Julia E. Whitworth to succeed the Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates as the 17th bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts. The electing convention took place at Trinity Church in Boston. 

In order to be elected, a nominee needed to receive a simple majority of votes from both the clergy and lay delegates, voting separately as “orders,” on the same balloting round.  Whitworth secured election on the fourth ballot, receiving 118 clergy votes and 155 lay votes, with 110 and 146 needed, respectively, for election. 

Following the 3:33 p.m. announcement of her election, Whitworth joined the convention via Zoom to offer her greetings.

“I would like to take a moment just to express my deep, deep gratitude for you, for the work that you do to make disciples, protect creation, promote justice and love Jesus, and for the opportunity to join you in that work as your bishop-elect,” Whitworth said.  “I am honored, I am flabbergasted, I am overjoyed, I am overwhelmed, and I feel it a deep, deep privilege to be called in this way."

Whitworth, the rector of Trinity Church in Indianapolis since 2016, is the first woman to be elected to lead the Diocese of Massachusetts as diocesan bishop.

Her election must now receive consent from a majority of The Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishops and a majority of its dioceses via their Standing Committees.  Pending that consent, the bishop-elect’s consecration is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Oct. 19 at Trinity Church in Boston.

The other four nominees were the Rev. Dr. Brendan J. Barnicle, Rector of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Wilsonville, Ore.; the Rev. Edwin D. Johnson, Director of Organizing for Episcopal City Mission in Boston; the Rev. Canon Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa, Th.D., Canon for Immigration and Multicultural Ministries in the Diocese of Massachusetts; and the Rev. Gideon L.K. Pollach, Rector of St. John’s Church in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.

“The diocese is eager to embrace a hopeful future and a pragmatic present.  Julia Whitworth brings gifts of creativity and joy, along with solid experience and accomplishments at the diocesan and parish levels, which have prepared her for Spirit-driven leadership in our midst,” Bishop Alan M. Gates said of the bishop-elect.  “I look forward to having our bishop-elect join me and Assistant Bishop Carol Gallagher over the summer to serve together in preparing for a healthy and faithful transition in October.”

Gates became the 16th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in September 2014.  In preparation for retirement, he plans to resign his office at the time of the bishop-elect’s consecration in October.

The Diocese of Massachusetts, established in 1784, is among the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest, in terms of baptized membership, and comprises 180 parishes, missions, chapels and chaplaincies in eastern Massachusetts.
 


Statement from the bishop-elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts:  
The Rev. Julia E. Whitworth


May 18, 2024

Beloved of God in the Diocese of Massachusetts–

It is a tremendous honor to have been elected your 17th bishop.  I am profoundly grateful and humbled that your clergy and lay representatives have placed such trust in me, to lead you and your amazing diocese.

The Diocese of Massachusetts has a long, proud history:  centuries of nurturing spiritual vitality, leadership and prophetic witness for the whole Episcopal Church.  Together we will build on that legacy by walking joyfully into your next chapter—proclaiming the Gospel, making disciples, strengthening our worshiping communities with imagination and courage, and working together for a more just and loving world.

I have adored my years as a priest in the dioceses of Connecticut, New York and Indianapolis.  To now have the opportunity to serve as bishop in God’s church in Massachusetts is a sacred responsibility that I will strive to uphold with compassion, humility and faithfulness.  And so much gratitude!  For you, for your ongoing witness to the resurrecting power of Jesus Christ and for the future ahead of us.

God bless you, DioMass! I can’t wait to be with you, very soon.
 



Biography: The Rev. Julia E. Whitworth

Currently:  Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Indianapolis, IN

Born:  Richmond, VA

Education:
Bachelor of Arts, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, 1993
Majors: Drama, English; Minors: Women’s Studies, Education
Master of Arts, M.Phil.: New York University/Tisch School of the Arts, Performance Studies
Master of Divinity, Union Theological Seminary, 2010

Ordained Priest: September 2010

Ministry:  
Rector, Trinity Church, Indianapolis, IN, 2016-Present
Canon for Liturgy and the Arts, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, New York, NY, 
2013-2016
Assistant Rector, St. James’s Church, West Hartford, CT, 2010-2012

Deputy to two Episcopal Church General Conventions, serving this summer on General Convention’s Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music Legislative Committee.  Serves in the Diocese of Indianapolis on the Executive Council and the Committee for Canons and Constitution, is a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Richard’s Episcopal School, and the Board of Directors of Trinity Haven, the first dedicated residence for LGBTQ+ youth in Indiana, and the LGBTQ+ youth advocacy organization Shelly’s Voice. Is a former member of the Governing Board of the National Association of Episcopal Schools.

Path to ordained ministry via theatre and academia, as well as church leadership.  Has been a drama instructor and associate teacher at the Tisch School of the Arts/New York University, a visiting lecturer in theater arts and guest director at Mount Holyoke College, and director of stage productions at numerous theaters and festivals.

Personal:  Married to artist-designer Ray Neufeld for 25 years. Three children, Liam, 18, Gregory, 15, and Grace, 13.

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Statements from bishop nominees

Dear Friends in Christ,

Congratulations on electing your new bishop! Your work has not been easy. I witnessed your loving and faithful discernment. You will be well served by your bishop-elect.

Thank you for all your prayers and support and love. I have felt lifted up and supported by you during this discernment process. You are blessed with lay and ordained leaders who offer abundant compassion and grace.

You have also inspired me. The Holy Spirit is abundantly clear in the Diocese of Massachusetts, and I will always carry the lessons learned and the memories formed from journeying with you. Also, I hope that I will run into some of you on my return trips to Massachusetts and to the Cape.

In the meantime, Go Celts!

All my love and all my blessings
In Christ,

Brendan Barnicle


I am deeply grateful for the support, affirmation, prayers and encouragement that I have received from so many of you throughout this process. The dreams that I have for this diocese, dreams that I have nurtured and held since my most formative years, remain alive and well and I am eager to see how they will unfold. As we step into a new chapter together with the Rev. Julia Whitworth as our bishop diocesan and pastor I feel honored to have been part of her journey of discernment and am excited to see how she will bless our diocese. Julia, I look forward to supporting your ministry with us in addition to continuing to grow the ways we make Jesus' presence known and felt wherever we go.

The Rev. Edwin Daniel Johnson


Although I will not be serving as our diocese’s 17th bishop diocesan, I’d like to take this moment to thank everyone who voted for me, my Inshuti z’akadasohoka (my listening heart group), and everyone who helped me through this discernment process. I’d also like to thank those who did not vote for me. This is not a vote of nonconfidence; I know you love me, and I love you too. A big thank you to those who have been involved with this search process from start to finish. Thank you for your thoughtful and prayerful consideration. You have all worked graciously and tirelessly in your various roles. I am grateful to the Standing Committee and for the Nominating Committee’s thoughtful questions, discernment, deliberation and overall dedication to this process to ensure the best candidates were presented to serve this community. 

Thank you to the Transition Committee for your attention to detail and all your efforts facilitating the “meet and greets.” I appreciate your hospitality as we learned about some of the wonderful ministries our siblings in Christ are doing across this great diocese. Your steadfastness in ensuring members of this diocese were prepared to make a well-informed decision is commendable.

Many thanks to all my fellow candidates who have walked alongside me in this journey. It has been a pleasure getting to know you. I am confident that votes were cast after much deep prayer, given all the amazing qualities and qualifications you brought forth. And of course, congratulations to the bishop-elect. Know that I will be praying for your success among us.

And one final note:  It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work closely with the Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates during his episcopate. He will be greatly missed, and I’m grateful to him and his family for these many years of dedication and service to this diocese.

The Rev. Canon Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa, Th.D.


I want to congratulate Julia Whitworth on her election to be the next bishop of Massachusetts. During this process, I have come to know Julia as a deeply faithful person with incredible gifts for ministry. I wish her and you all the very best as you seek to follow God together and live into your vocation to be disciples of Jesus, seek justice for all and care for creation.

I will be praying for you all and watching God at work among you with great love. 

Faithfully yours,

The Rev. Gideon L. K. Pollach