Bishop Chane calls for election, will step down in Fall 2011

The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane announced today that he plans to retire as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington after the consecration of his successor in the fall of 2011.

Chane, 65, became the eighth Bishop of Washington in June 2002. He is known for his passionate support for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in the Church, his commitment to interfaith dialog, and his outreach to Africa and the Muslim world.

“I love what I do and I deeply love this diocese,” Chane told delegates to the diocese’s annual convention at Washington National Cathedral. “When the time actually comes to turn over the crosier to another it will be a very emotional time for me. “

However, noting that he had been a priest for 38 years, Chane said it was “time to elect a younger person to lead what I consider to be the best and one of the most influential dioceses in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion.”

The diocese’s Standing Committee will form a search committee in March to compose a diocesan profile, screen nominees, and selecting a group of potential successors. Chane said he hopes an election will be held in May or June, 2011.

“Today is not a day for goodbyes or reminiscing, nor is it a time of sadness,” Chane said. “It is a time to continue moving forward, engaging in the exciting work that God has called all of us to do as a mission driven diocese. I am going to work as hard as I can and continue to serve you with all the gifts God has given to me until the next bishop takes office.”

During his seven years tenure, Chane has been named by Washingtonian magazine as one of the 150 most influential leaders in the District of Columbia and recognized by the Sunday Telegraph in London as one of the 50 most prominent leaders in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Chane is known for his outspoken support of marriage equality for gays and lesbians, both within the Episcopal Church and without. He allows his clergy to bless same-sex relationships and blesses such relationships himself. He supported the District of Columbia’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

Under Chane’s leadership, the diocese quadrupled its Spanish speaking membership, and opened the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys to provide a free education to underprivileged boys in the District of Columbia’s poorest neighborhoods.

He is the co-founder of the Episcopal Church’s “Bishops Working for a Just World,” which seeks solutions to domestic and global poverty, universal health care and the environmental crisis.

In 2003, Chane established a partnership between his diocese and the Anglican Church of southern Africa, helping the Church earn two multi-million dollar grants from the U. S. government to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS and malaria.

In 2006 Chane extended a controversial invitation to speak at Washington National Cathedral to former Iranian president Mohamed Khatami, and the two became allies. Chane has since traveled to Iran on numerous occasions, speaking to, and studying with numerous religious leaders at seminaries and universities in the cities of Tehran and Qom.

The bishop has spoken on links between religion and terrorism at the National Defense University and the U.S. State Department’s “Secretary’s Open Forum.” Next month he will present a paper on the role of religion in public diplomacy at the Brookings Institution’s U.S. Islamic World Forum,” held in Doha, Qatar.

As Bishop of Washington, Chane also serves as the president and chief executive officer of the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation which oversees the operations of Washington National Cathedral and the three cathedral schools of Saint Alban’s, National Cathedral School for Girls and Beauvoir School.

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