Washington’s Bishop Jane Dixon has died

UPDATE: a memorial page can be found on Facebook

The following is received tonight from Mariann Edgar Budde, Bishop of Washington:

December 25, 2012

Dear Friends:

I write this Christmas Day with sad news. Bishop Jane Dixon died in her sleep early this morning after a spending a joyful Christmas Eve with her family. Her death comes as a shock to her beloved husband of 52 years, Dixie, to their children and grandchildren, and to all of us blessed to have known Jane as a friend, mentor, and colleague.

Jane was elected bishop suffragan by the people of the Diocese of Washington in 1992 and served until her retirement in August 2002. From January 2001 until June 2002, she held ecclesiastical authority for the diocese as bishop pro tempore. After her retirement, she was senior advisor for interreligious relations at the Interfaith Alliance, where she had served as board chair during her tenure as bishop. In 2011, she shared that organization’s Walter Cronkite Award with journalist Jim Lehrer.

Anglicans across the globe will remember Jane as the second woman bishop in the Episcopal Church and the third in the Anglican Communion. She claimed that distinction not for herself, but for its power to proclaim the gospel. “I am a symbol of the inclusiveness of God,” she said at a press conference on the morning of her consecration.

Jane was born in Mississippi in 1937 and, after being graduated from Vanderbilt University, spent her early life as a teacher and mother. She told a 1992 meeting of the Episcopal Women’s Caucus that she “stepped out of the kitchen into a new and different world,” at age 40 when she enrolled at Virginia Theological Seminary. She received her master of divinity in 1982 and doctor of divinity in 1993.

Jane, who was rector of St. Philip’s Church in Laurel, Maryland when she was elected bishop, was just the second woman priest in this diocese. Throughout her ministry as priest and bishop, she was a champion for reconciliation and justice.

Called to serve at a time when some refused to accept the authority of a woman bishop, Jane led with courage and conviction, and sometimes at great personal cost. She demonstrated that same bravery and grace when she brought hope and healing to our country by officiating at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance service at Washington National Cathedral following the tragedy on 9/11.

Jane was a fighter for equality and social justice and this led her to speak at the White House against hate crimes and to stand for inclusiveness within the Episcopal Church.

“Jane is a person who has the courage of her convictions but the grace and humility to know that none of us can equate our ways with God’s ways, our thoughts with God’s thoughts,” said the late Verna Dozier, Jane’s longtime mentor, in the sermon she preached at Jane’s consecration.

Jane is survived by her husband, David McFarland Dixon, Sr., her three children, David, Jr., Edward and Mary, and her beloved grandchildren, Ed, Emma, Madeline, Mack, Rosalie, and Lucy. We are still working out plans for a religious service to celebrate Jane’s life and grieve her death, and I will contact you as soon as I have information to share.

Jane was among the first to telephone me after I had been elected bishop, and she offered to support me in any way she could. Shortly afterwards, Dixie called back and offered that same support to my husband, Paul. Like many, I consider myself blessed to count Jane Dixon as a friend and mentor. She paved the way for us; may we walk on in her spirit.


Mariann Edgar Budde

Bishop of Washington

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