Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Bishop Takes a Husband

Not what you're thinking; the Episcopal bishop of Rhode Island (a woman), has announced her engagement to a financier who converted to ECUSA from... guess where:
The bishop says that until she met her husband-to-be, Thomas Charles Bair Jr., at a visit last summer to St. John’s Parish, in Newport, she assumed she would always remain single.

But that changed when Bair, who runs his own financial-services company in New Paltz, N.Y., and who had come to help the Newport parish with its stewardship campaign, saw her there and invited her out for lunch.

They ate at a barbeque restaurant near America’s Cup Avenue.

“I thought he wanted to talk about the church, but he really wanted to get to know me,” the bishop said.

Bair says: “When I heard the bishop addressing the congregation that morning, I just found her to be very loving and very interesting to listen to, so I was attracted.”...

Although it is not common for a sitting Episcopal bishop to get married while heading a diocese, it is not unprecedented. Bishop Wolf noted that Bishop Carolyn Irish, the Episcopal bishop of Utah, married an old friend a few years ago. Bishop Wolf and her fiancé are planning to be wed at the Cathedral of St. John, Providence, on April 21, with the U.S. Episcopal Church’s former presiding bishop, Frank Griswold, officiating.

(Don't forget to invite Milingo -- with moglie, of course.)

To reserve the cathedral for that day without tipping their hand, Bair requested use of the cathedral for that date for the purpose of holding a retreat. Staff members in on the secret developed the practice of referring to Bair not as the bishop’s fiancé, but as the “retreat director.”

Bishop Wolf acknowledged that even she was surprised by how it all developed.

“I’ve never had any suitors. When I went out with him, I told him it was my first date in 11 or 12 years. Nothing before was serious. I had always assumed I would remain single.”

She said one of the attributes she finds most attractive in her future husband is his faith.

“He is devoted to Christ and to the church. He is kind and thoughtful and fun to be with. And there’s the added ingredient of love. I love this man.”

How sweet, eh? Many congrats to the happy Episcopal, and episcopal, couple.

Just up the road in New England, as if Fifth Anniversary Weekend wasn't enough to cause stirrings in the archdiocese of Boston, now we have the case of what could be called the Mother of All Flips.

Here's the deal: a closed parish plant in East Boston was put on the market by the archdiocese. Stating plans to convert the church into a studio and the rectory into condos, a local photographer picked it up for $850,000.

And then, the twist: 20 days after closing the sale, the photog sold the land and buildings to a Pentecostal church.

Price? $2.65 million.

Yes, you're reading that correctly.

There's absolute howlin' going on in Beantown, and the Herald's been riding it like gangbusters. The politicos are jumping in, higher (and denied) bidders are steaming, and the lay-run Council of Parishes has lodged a protest with the nuncio.

Plenty of people believe the archdiocese has failed to realize the potential profits from the sale of church properties sacrificed to the parish reconfiguration process," the paper said in a Monday editorial. "And this debacle surely makes one wonder about the qualifications of the person in charge of marketing church properties to prospective buyers."

Whatever its provenance, the episode is just further proof that the ripple-effects of what began there five years back just haven't stopped.