Episcopal Diocese to choose woman bishop

The three candidates for Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas visited St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City Kansas, Tuesday, Oct. 2. They were, left to right, The Rev. Cathleen Chittenden Bascom, Forest City, Iowa; The Rev. Helen Svoboda, Durham, North Carolina; and The Rev. Martha N. Macgill, Cumberland, Maryland. The Rev. Dixie Roberts Junk, the priest-in-charge at St. Paul’s, greeted the candidates before a luncheon in the parish hall. (Photo by Murrel Bland)

by Murrel Bland

The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas will make history this fall as it chooses one of three clergywomen candidates who will become its 10th bishop. A woman has never been bishop of the diocese that dates back to 1859.

This also will be the first time an all-woman slate has been presented in any Episcopal Diocese in the United States. The Very Rev. Foster Mays, president of the Council of Trustees of the diocese, said the fact that they are all women, while historic, speaks to the ministry and experience of ordained women across the Episcopal Church.

The three candidates were guests of clergy members of the diocese at a luncheon Tuesday, Oct. 2, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1300 N. 18th St., Kansas City, Kansas.

Later that day, the candidates were introduced at the “walkabout” at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church, 12251 Antioch Road, Overland Park. Similar walkabouts are scheduled at other Kansas parishes including Wednesday, Oct. 3, at The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, 400 Maple St., Independence; Thursday, Oct. 4, at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 7404 E. Killarney Place, Wichita; and Friday, Oct. 5, at Grace Episcopal Cathedral, 701 S. Eighth Ave., Topeka.

The candidates:

The Rev. Cathleen Chittenden Bascom grew up in Denver. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Kansas at Lawrence and a Master of Arts degree in modern literature from Exeter University, Penryn, England. She received a Master of Divinity degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary at Evanston, Illinois, and a Doctorate of Ministry in Preaching from Illif School of Theology at Denver. She was a curate at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, Deerfield, Illinois, and served as campus clergy for St. Francis Canterbury House at Kansas State University, Manhattan. She served as rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Newton, Iowa, and as dean of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Des Moines, Iowa. She is an assistant professor at Waldorf University, Forest City, Iowa. She and her husband Tim Bascom are the parents of two adult sons, Conrad and Luke.

The Rev. Martha N. Macgill is a graduate of Davidson College, North Carolina, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree. She received a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Virginia School of Law at Charlottesville and a Master of Laws degree from the School of Law at New York University. She was a law clerk in the U.S. Tax Court in Washington, D.C. She practiced law in Connecticut. She became an ordained deacon in 1995 and an ordained priest in 1996. She served as priest-in-charge at St. Francis, Walkerville in the Diocese of Christ-the-King in South Africa. She also served as rector of Memorial Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland. She is now rector of Emmanuel Parish, Cumberland, Maryland. She and her husband Bryan Kelleher are parents of two adult children, Jack and Anna.

The Rev. Helen Svoboda-Barber grew up in Chapman, Kansas. She received degrees in psychology and human development from the University of Kansas at Lawrence. She received a Master of Divinity degree from the Seminary of the Southwest, Austin, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Austin Presbyterian Seminary. She was canon at Grace Episcopal Church in Topeka, and an assistant pastor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Overland Park. She also was rector of Harcourt Parish Episcopal Church in Gambler, Ohio. She is now rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina. She and her husband Shawn Barber are the parents of two teenage sons, Charlie and Luke.

The bishop will be chosen when the diocese holds its annual convention in Topeka Friday, Oct. 19. The Most Rev. Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the national Episcopal church, will come to Topeka Friday, March 2, for the ordination and consecration.

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