The next Episcopal bishop of New York is, among other things, a cartoonist

I’ve been too busy with massive education projects and way-complicated education stories of late to think about my old God-beat.

So time to do a little catch-up:

The Episcopal Diocese of New York on Saturday elected a bishop-coadjutor elect. This means that the fellow in question, the Rev. Canon Andrew Dietsche, is in line to become the next bishop when current Bishop Mark Sisk retires in 2014 (he needs the consent of other bishops and standing committees from other dioceses).

Dietsche, who lives in Poughkeepsie, is already on the staff of the NY Diocese, serving as canon for pastoral care. Interestingly, he was not one of five candidates put forth in August by a special committee of the diocese. But he was one of two candidates nominated from the floor and was elected on the third round of balloting.

His resume includes these responsibilities in his current position:

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• Coordinated medical, mental health, spiritual and financial resources for clergy well-being.
• Liaison to the Clergy Critical Needs Committee, the Executive Committee of the Mid-Hudson Region,
and the former Clergy Wholeness Committee;  Member of the Liturgy Committee.
• Member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for the Relief of Clergy Widows and Orphans.
• Cartoonist for the Episcopal New Yorker.
• Keynoter for diocesan and regional conferences in New York and New Jersey, particularly priests’ and
deacons’ conferences.
• Workshops and Presentations, regionally and parochially, on Pastoral Care in Parishes, Spiritual and
Pastoral Issues of Death and Dying, and Clergy Stress and Self-Care.
• Vestry Retreats, Vestry Training, and Vestry Consultation.
• Stewardship education and preaching, and conflict resolution.

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Dietsche, 57, will become bishop at a challenging time for the diocese and for the Episcopal Church. Membership has been falling for decades. Many churches in the Lower Hudson Valley have small, aging congregations. The denomination has, of course, faced all sorts of internal conflicts over homosexuality. And the profile of the Episcopal Bishop of New York is much lower than it was a few decades ago (despite Sisk being a really smart, level-headed and respected guy).

After his election, Dietsche said this:

“I believe that it is especially a privilege to be the church in uncertain times.  It is the greatest gift to face challenges which surpass our ability and understanding, for it is only then that we learn what it really means to trust God.  We are in a season in which so much of our common life, the life and health of so many churches, and the resources on which our ministries and our mission have depended, can no longer be taken for granted.  The particular challenges with which we will contend in this next chapter of our life will test us, but I am certain that, God being our helper, we will prevail over fear and doubt and by the witness of a courageous faith give glory to God.  I thank the clergy and people of New York for inviting me to lead them into that wonderful future, and I ask God’s blessing on this, our great Diocese of New York.”