Bishop Baxter to Resign in May 2014

The Rt. Rev. Nathan Baxter
Monday, January 13, 2014

To The Beloved Diocesan Family of Central Pennsylvania:

I have written to the Presiding Bishop requesting consent to resign as Diocesan Bishop of Central Pennsylvania upon the election of a Bishop Provisional (Interim Diocesan).  

In our Church, the resigning of a bishop from a jurisdiction requires agreement of the majority of the members of the House of Bishops. This is true whether one is moving to another ministry or planning to retire. Depending upon when our Standing Committee decides to elect a Bishop Provisional, I could step down (resign) from my Ecclesiastical Authority before my effective retirement date of May 31, 2014. After consultation with the Standing Committee, leadership and the officers of the diocese, I have decided that I will end my visitation schedule at Easter, using the month of May to clear my office and complete any essential administrative matters and ordinations.

As I have communicated to you previously my health, though improved, continues to be insufficient to the demands and duties of this sacred office. The people and mission to which we are called need the energy and strength I cannot give.

We have grown in our common spiritual life and in mission. We have become more open to creative candor in facing our resource challenges without despair or acrimony. I believe that God is showing us new ways to be church and do mission in Central Pennsylvania. There are so many examples evident in small and larger congregations - a deep commitment to inward spiritual growth and mission outreach in their local communities. But I rejoice most in what I believe is a spiritual sense of hope and collaboration between congregations and the Diocesan leadership. In recent years, we have come to understand that “the Diocese” is us, not just a distant office of the bishop. I believe we have also gained a deeper understanding that “Diocesan Leadership” is collaboration between the diocesan staff, volunteers on diocesan committees, commissions and convocations. From our Episcopal Church Women to our Youth ministries the joy of Christ is evident. No, we have not experienced perfection by any means. But I do rejoice in the overall spirit of goodwill, community and common commitment from the Northern Tier to the Southern Convocation and all points in between.

It has been a joyous privilege to serve this diocese as layman, deacon, priest and bishop. I pray I have served you and our larger Episcopal Church faithfully. I do hope that you have experienced the love of Christ in my ministry and leadership among you. Mary Ellen and I have certainly felt loved and lifted in prayer by you; and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Yours in Christ,