Bishop Stephen Lane of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine will retire in mid-2019 and a search committee has been formed to find his successor. COURTESY PHOTO/Episcopal Diocese of Maine

Bishop Stephen Lane of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine will retire in mid-2019 and a search committee has been formed to find his successor. COURTESY PHOTO/Episcopal Diocese of Maine

BIDDEFORD  — Episcopal worshipers in Maine are about to experience a change in leadership as Bishop Stephen Lane will retire in mid-2019.

Lane announced his decision on Aug. 24 and has called for the election of a new bishop to succeed him. He has served as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maine since May 2008 and is the ninth person to serve in that role.

“Serving as your bishop is the greatest joy of my life in the church, and I look forward to continuing that service for the next two years,” Lane wrote to church members. “The work of following Jesus goes on even as we make preparations for our diocesan future, and I will remain fully engaged as your bishop until the moment I pass the crozier to my successor.”

The bishop was raised in Leroy, New York and began his career as a youth minister for the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. He worked in youth ministry for four years, and then attended seminary at Colgate-Rochester/Bexley/Crozer Seminaries. 

His ordained ministry started at Christ Church in Corning, New York, where he served for seven years as Assistant and Priest-in-Charge. Lane then spent 15 years as Rector of Zion Church in Palmyra, New York.

In 2000, he was called to serve as Canon for Deployment and Ministry Development in the Diocese of Rochester, until he was elected Bishop Coadjutor of Maine. Lane also served as president of Province II, and a member of the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church before his election as Bishop of the Diocese of Maine in 2008.

Bishop Lane and his wife, Gretchen, reside in Portland and they have three grown children and six grandchildren. 

Along with his duties as Episocpal Bishop of Maine, Lane currently he serves the wider Episcopal Church as the Vice-Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget, and Finance and is a member of Bishops for a Just World, a small group of bishops who work with The Episcopal Church’s Office of Government Relations.

The Rev. Maria Hoecker has been named by the diocese to chair a standing committee to find Lane’s successor.

“With Bishop Lane’s call for the election of a diocesan bishop, your standing committee has already begun planning for the election of the 10th Bishop of Maine in 2019,” Hoecker wrote in an open letter to the diocese. “Under the guidance of the Office for Pastoral Development of the Episcopal Church, we have called the Rev. Canon Rick Callaway as our search consultant to shepherd us throughout the entire process, using best practices that are well-established throughout the Episcopal Church.”

Hoecker said that diocesan leaders are committed to listening and responding to diverse voices across Maine and to making the selection a prayerful process.

“As followers of Jesus, we believe that all orders of ministry: the laity, deacons, priests, and bishops are one within the Body of Christ by virtue of our baptism,” she wrote. “Through the variety of our prayers and experience across the diocese, we trust that the Holy Spirit will guide and inspire us through these seasons of endings and beginnings.

“Meanwhile, we continue to share our diverse gifts created by God’s abundant love,” Hoecker wrote. “Your standing committee invites you to keep our diocese, Bishop Lane and Gretchen, and our next bishop in your daily prayers as we enter this season of growing in our life together. All shall be well.”

Lane wrote to members of the diocese that his decision to retire was not easy, but he feels confident that the succession process will be smooth.

“I invite all Maine Episcopalians to take part, through prayer and discernment, and by continuing the faithful work and worship that are going on all over the diocese,” he wrote. “I ask your prayers, and promise you mine, as we make this journey together.”

 —  Executive Editor Ed Pierce can be reached at 282-1535 ext. 326 or by email at [email protected]

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