After 10 years of service in tight-knit Winchester, the Rev. Thomas Brown is getting ready to spend a lot of time on the road. As part of his new ministry as the bishop of the Episcopal Church in Maine, he’s expecting to put 40,000 miles on his car visiting the 60 congregations that he will be overseeing.
Although Brown has already been elected through a scrupulous election process with five finalists, other Episcopal dioceses have to give their consent for Brown’s election, a process that he estimates will conclude in March. “There is real sort of tentativeness,” he noted. “We can’t be going to Portland and buying a house.” Brown’s last Sunday at Epiphany will be March 31 and he is slated to begin his ministry in Maine on May 1. Pending the final confirmation, Brown will be ordained and consecrated on June 22 at the cathedral in Portland.
Brown’s election also makes history for Maine’s Episcopal church. Brown will become the first openly gay male bishop in Maine, and the second openly gay male bishop in the Episcopal Church, including the church’s dioceses in other countries.
“It’s a very hopeful day for lesbian and gay people,” Brown said. “But also beyond that, it sends a message to the whole church that we desire to be welcoming and loving. We believe that the church’s leaders, lay and ordained, have to reflect who is who in the world.” In the past year, he noted, there have been more female bishops elected, with several being African-American. “There is excitement about some bishops -- we look different and we are different,” he said.