Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Illustrating Epiphany greetings
from an Episcopal bishop in the US

My photograph of an Ethiopian icon on the cover of an Epiphany card sent out by Bishop Jeffrey Lee of Chicago

Patrick Comerford

We are still in the weeks of Epiphany that continue the Season of Christmas, and my photograph of an Ethiopian icon of the Visit of the Magi continues to find use for Epiphany-themed occasions in the US.

Earlier this month [5 January 2016], it was pleasure to see this photograph used to illustrate the front cover of a Presbyterian Church magazine, Peaks Postings, the magazine of the Presbytery of the Peaks in Virginia.

Yesterday [20 January 2016], I received a copy of an Epiphany card sent out by Bishop Jeffrey Lee using the same photograph for his Epiphany seasonal greetings to the Diocese of Chicago in the Episcopal Church.

Bishop Jeff has been the Bishop of Chicago since 2008. He was born in Michigan and was raised in a Lutheran family. At an early age he was urged by his pastor to consider ordained ministry, and as a young man he joined the Episcopal Church.

After he and his wife Lisa were married in 1979, they moved to New York, where they both worked as buyers for Bloomingdale’s. But the juxtaposition of wealth and extreme poverty that they saw side-by-side in New York led him to decide to pursue ordained ministry, and he studied at Nashotah House in Wisconsin.

After he was ordained priest on 1985, he served as the canon to the ordinary. He also worked in church development, and started a suburban congregation near Indianapolis, Indiana.

Bishop Jeff worked as a rector with declining parishes in both Wisconsin and Washington before he was Bishop of Chicago. He was chosen from a list of eight nominees, and when he was consecrated by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori on 1 February 2008, he was the 1,026th bishop consecrated for the Episcopal Church.

A major event during his episcopacy has been the reunification of the Diocese of Chicago with the Episcopal Diocese of Quincy. In 2008, a majority of laity and clergy in the Diocese of Quincy left to form a diocese in the more conservative Anglican Church in North America.

The remaining Episcopalians in Quincy reformed their diocese and in 2012 they approached Bishop Jeff and the Diocese of Chicago about the possibility of reunification with Chicago. In November 2012, the convention of the Diocese of Chicago agreed that reunification should be pursued and on 8 June 2013, both diocesan conventions voted unanimously to reunify.

The reunification was ratified by a majority of the bishops and the standing committees of the Episcopal Church, and on 1 September 2013, the Diocese of Quincy merged into the Diocese of Chicago as the Peoria deanery.

Despite the decision of the Anglican Primates at their meeting in Canterbury last week, all of us are going to find that our friendships with individuals and dioceses in the US cross many of the boundaries that others would try to raise, and that there are pleasant surprises in the way they bear creative fruit.

On this Epiphany card, Bishop Jeff quotes the Collect for the Epiphany in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church:

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son
to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by
faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to
face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

The greetings and collect on Bishop Jeffrey Lee’s Epiphany card

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