A Message from the Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely, Bishop of Vermont
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.
Dear people of the Episcopal Church in Vermont:
I was indeed very glad when you said to me, “Come and share in God’s mission with us, here in Vermont.” In so many ways, Vermont is the house of the Lord, and my joy and gladness have grown each day, along with my deep affection for Vermont and its people. I thank God and the people of Vermont for calling me to this ministry as your bishop. I celebrate all we have accomplished together and thank you for teaching me so much about what it means to be human, to be in community and to love and serve the Lord with gladness and singleness of heart.
After several months of prayerful discernment, I have decided that it is time for me to bring this season of mission and ministry in my life and yours to its conclusion, and to open the door for the next season in the life of the Episcopal Church in Vermont, as well as in mine. To that end, I have informed the Presiding Bishop and the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Vermont of my decision to resign this ministry as the 10th Bishop of Vermont, and begin the “retirement” phase of my journey, no later than September 30, 2019. By that date, I will have served as your bishop for over 18 years and as a priest for nearly 39 of my 67 years of life. There are other interests and ministries to which I am feeling called to devote my time and energy while my health and stamina are still good, including family, community theatre, various justice ministries and a bit more golf.
It has been over 18 years since the Episcopal Church in Vermont has experienced a transition in episcopal ministry. I have every confidence that you will do it well and faithfully. The Standing Committee recently met with the Right Reverend Todd Ousley, from The Episcopal Church Office of Pastoral Development. Among his many ministries, Bishop Ousley is charged by the Presiding Bishop to offer support and guidance to dioceses during times of transition in the episcopate. There is a wealth of “best practices” upon which to draw and I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit will guide you well in the months ahead. You will hear more from the Standing Committee about the process going forward. Others in the diocese will also play important roles in this transition and I pledge you my full support and cooperation, especially when that means “getting out of the way!”
I look forward to the months of ministry we have together before I step aside, and Ann and I take up residence in our house in Newfane, Vermont. I plan to use these months ahead to continue encouraging full and passionate engagement in your local mission approaches, so vital to our call to participate in the Jesus Movement. I plan to continue my efforts related to a sustainable Rock Point and all that means to our life as the Episcopal Church in Vermont. And, I plan to pursue in new and appropriate ways the passion I have for various justice, ecumenical and interfaith ministries that have helped shaped me and our life and ministry together over the years.
During this time of transition, I ask for your prayers for Ann and me, as we continue to hold you in ours. Pray also for the members of the diocesan Ministry Support Team and the Staff at Rock Point, who I know will carry on the work and ministry of this diocese with competence and faithfulness. Pray for the members of the Standing Committee and Diocesan Council and all those who will be called upon to lead the Episcopal Church in Vermont into its next season of mission and ministry.
Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever. (Ephesians 3:20,21)
Faithfully yours in Christ,
The Right Reverend Thomas C. Ely