Dear Episcopalians of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire,
Today we celebrated a new milestone!
Episcopalians from across Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire met on Zoom today for Maine’s Spring Training event, and during the program, the three of us had the opportunity to reflect and answer questions about the collaboration we are pursuing. We also had the opportunity to share some news.
In a spirit of trust in each other and in God’s future for the church in Northern New England, we announced today that we have decided to name one another as assisting bishops in one another’s dioceses, beginning in September.
This means that:
Bishop Brown will name Bishop Shannon and Bishop Rob as assisting bishops in Maine
Bishop Shannon will name Bishop Rob and Bishop Brown as assisting bishops in Vermont
Bishop Rob will name Bishop Shannon and Bishop Brown as assisting bishops in New Hampshire
Assisting bishops serve at the invitation of the ecclesiastical authority—in this case, bishops inviting other bishops. The role of an assisting bishop is to preach and teach and provide sacramental rites (Canon III.12.5), but not to exercise governance authority. Through preaching, teaching, and presiding, we look forward to exercising our ministry in ways that will allow us to get to know each other’s dioceses, learn more about the Episcopal Church across our region, and discern how we might learn to collaborate with one another for the sake of God’s mission.
As you know, the three of us have been meeting together for quite some time. As we have talked about ways that we could collaborate in ministry, it has stirred in us a holy curiosity to understand and imagine who we are in God’s eyes. As we imagine together, we are creating space to practice creativity with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, learning and exploring where we might give up control and try new things. We believe that serving as assisting bishops in one another’s dioceses will feed that holy curiosity and creativity, and we are eager to begin this new chapter in our ministries.
We are also grateful to the members of our standing committees who graciously and eagerly affirmed this new arrangement when they met together online for fellowship and conversation in early April. This new arrangement will not change our full-time ministry with the dioceses where we serve as bishop diocesan, and it will be budget-neutral for all three dioceses.
We are excited to explore together where the Holy Spirit may guide us, and we look forward to continued conversations and collegiality across our three dioceses.
Faithfully in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Thomas J. Brown, Bishop of Maine
The Rt. Rev. Dr. Shannon MacVean-Brown, Bishop of Vermont
The Rt. Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, Bishop of New Hampshire