The Rt. Rev. David Colin Jones, the bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, has accepted an invitation from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to serve as a “consulting bishop” as it rebuilds.
Bishop Jones will provide the Pittsburgh diocesan Standing Committee — the current leadership team — practical advice on the details of diocesan administration, clergy deployment, and support for congregations remaining in the Episcopal Church in the United States.
“Bishop Jones’s experience in Virginia, especially his pastoral care for congregations that continued with the Episcopal Church, provides us a great resource and guiding hand,” said the Rev. James Simons, President of Pittsburgh’s Standing Committee.
The Diocese of Virginia, like Pittsburgh, has seen a handful of parishes seek to “realign” with other Anglican churches outside of the United States. As the bishop suffragan, or assisting bishop, in Virginia, Jones’s primary responsibility is for missions and church planting, and he is known to be passionate about church growth.
“I believe my strongest spiritual gift is the gift of encouragement,” Bishop Jones says. “Throughout my entire ordained ministry I have been a listener and a guide. I now offer that to the Episcopalians of Pittsburgh to use as they see fit in rebuilding their diocese. I do not come with any predetermined expectations.”
As a consultant, Bishop Jones will have no ecclesiastical authority in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. That jurisdiction remains with the Standing Committee. He will begin his consulting role immediately. Jones will continue as Virginia’s bishop suffragan and maintain his residence in Virginia, spending time in Pittsburgh as needed. He may, on occasion, be asked to perform sacramental duties for Pittsburgh churches.
Congregations representing twenty Pittsburgh parishes are on record as remaining in the Episcopal Church, with more likely to be identified by the time the Diocese holds its Special Convention on December 13, 2008. At that meeting, vacancies in all elected diocesan offices will be filled. In the coming months, the Standing Committee will name an Assisting Bishop to serve until a permanent diocesan bishop is called – a period that could take up to two years. Bishop Jones is expected to lend advice on naming the Assistant Bishop and continue serving as a consultant until that person is in place.
Jones, 65, was consecrated the bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Virginia in 1995, making him one of the more senior bishops of the Episcopal Church. He has held numerous leadership positions within the House of Bishops and General Convention. Jones holds degrees from West Virginia University and Virginia Theological Seminary.
The Bishop has close connections to the Pittsburgh area, but until now, never had an official tie to the Diocese. Born in Youngstown, raised in West Virginia, he visited Pittsburgh often. “I bought my first suit at Kaufmann’s downtown,” Jones recalls, “and rooted for the Pirates and Steelers.”
Additional information on The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of The Episcopal Church in the United States is available at www.episcopalpgh.org.