Episcopal Diocese of Rochester
Joy in Christ, a way of life

Bishop-Elect's Writing / Enews June 2024

A Rochester Sky

Rochester in the Path of Totality - the banner headline caught my eye and stayed with me during the diocesan tour. How cool, I thought, as I tucked that information into my memory; I have only experienced a partial eclipse in Chicago. After I was elected bishop of Rochester, I thought: I want to be in the diocese for this momentous occasion. But on top of many goodbyes and the demands of a move, plane tickets were three times the usual cost. Imagine my excitement when John’s job interview was scheduled for April 10! We could both go, look for a house, and see the eclipse!

The forecast wasn’t promising, but I am by nature a hopeful person – maybe the wind would drive the clouds away, maybe there would be a gap in the clouds at just the right moment. We gathered on the lawn of the apartment complex where we were staying. Like the minutes before a worship service begins, people gathered, some with lawn chairs and coolers, some with dogs on leashes, folks with canes and children underfoot, a real Norman Rockwell-esque motley crew. A deer appeared out of the trees, looked at us, and sauntered away. Birds chattered. The breeze was gentle and cool and did not part the clouds.

And then, as if someone used a dimmer switch, the light began to fade, not like a sunrise or sunset, but from the center of the sky like a great gray bowl unrolling to the horizon. It was dark and quiet and holy. I felt connected to the vast universe, the rich earth, and the strangers around me. It was a beautiful moment.

And then the light returned, and people packed up their chairs and children. We grumbled to each other about the obstructed view and how we got eclipse glasses for nothing. And then we went home to see the amazing pictures taken by the people who were in the path of totality on a beautiful clear day.

I expect that July 13 might feel like a similar day. You have met and prayed, told stories, personal and historical, argued, sought healing, attended endless meetings. I prayed and wrote and talked and interviewed and prayed some more. You voted. I said yes! I cleaned and packed and said goodbye, unpacked and set up my new office. I shadowed Bishop Lane. The transition committee and I met to plan and sort details, and now it is almost upon us. The new bishop begins!

I am guessing we both have some big expectations about what it will mean for me to be your new bishop. There has been change, and growth and hardship, but now we are starting fresh! It will be momentous, a total eclipse, a transformation! The consecration service will be a solemn and joyful occasion– processions, funny outfits, glorious music! The past is past; you have been resurrected; I now have new insight and special powers. Or …not. Perhaps the clouds won’t part. Perhaps the change will come quietly and not with a bang. On July 14 we will go back to the routine of our ordinary lives, the demands of family and volunteer work, the pews not as full as we’d like, the building needing repair, the prayer list breaking our hearts, and the path of justice full of roadblocks.

My consecration and ordination as bishop and your renewal and commitment to the shared life of faith as a diocese will be a momentous occasion – but more like a total eclipse behind a Rochester sky (why did no one tell me about that in the interviews?!?). There will be a motley crew of people showing up as best we can, there will be tears, laughter, joy, dancing and music. It will be holy. It will be a beginning and a continuation of our life of faith. We will recommit to meet and pray, be baptized and fed, to discern our and our faith communities’ call to join in the God Project. July 13 is just a marker, a reset on our journey -- working towards a world where God is in charge, and we are the agents of God’s peace, justice, and mercy. That kind of totality, that kind of eclipse, is what we’re truly waiting and working for.

God’s Blessings,



BRASS TACKS (aka what is on the bishop’s To Do List)

To continue on my Christian journey as your new bishop I am beginning my prayer time each morning with a reading from Ladder to the Light: An Indigenous Elder’s Meditations on Hope and Courage by Steven Charleston (retired bishop of Alaska and member of the Choctaw Nation). I know I will need both hope and courage in this new role.

Both Bishop Lane and I endorse the use of the creation care liturgies. You are welcome to use a portion or all of the recommended prayers and readings found at this link.

I am discerning what a healing and helpful response to the ongoing war in Gaza should come from us as a diocese. I invite conversation and writing partners; please contact me at kara@episcopaldioceseofrochester.org.

I want us to provide a model and resources on civil discourse and civic engagement in this upcoming election season. If your parish has plans for forums, non-partisan voting drives, or pastoral conversations on how to love family and neighbors whose political views enrage you, please let me know! I want to provide support for preachers, events, and conversations for congregations, and support for civic leaders. I hope that as a diocese, and as individual parishes we can be a model of courageous and civil listening and action.