Bishop Coadjutor Consecrated in Syracuse

Episcopal News Service. May 21, 1981 [81160]

Syracuse, N. Y. -- The Rt. Rev. O'Kelley Whitaker became Bishop Coadjutor of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, and the eighth bishop in the history of the diocese, in a service of ordination and consecration held May 16 in the Onondaga County War Memorial, Syracuse.

The Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop, the Rt. Rev. John Maury Allin, traveled to Syracuse to be the chief consecrator of the new bishop. Co-consecrators included the Rt. Rev. Ned Cole, Bishop of Central New York, and three of Whitaker's former classmates at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary: the Rt. Rev. William H. Folwell, Bishop of Central Florida; the Rt. Rev. C. Charles Vache, Bishop of Southern Virginia; and the Rt. Rev. Robert C. Witcher, Bishop of Long Island.

Clergy and laity from throughout Central New York, as well as ecumenical representatives and visitors both local and from out of town, filled the large auditorium. A 350-voice choir was composed of members of parish choirs throughout the diocese. Each parish was also represented by its own acolytes, carrying a parish banner.

The Diocese of Central New York includes 116 parishes and has 47,000 members.

Whitaker, who was elected at the 112th convention of the diocese last November, will share diocesan responsibilities with Cole, 64, who has been the diocesan bishop since 1969. He will become diocesan bishop upon the retirement of Cole.

The new bishop comes from Orlando, Fla., where he had been dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke since 1973. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1952 and has served churches in North Carolina and Florida.

The last time an Episcopal bishop coadjutor was consecrated in Central New York was 1964, the year Cole assumed that post. He served with Bishop Walter Higley, who retired in 1969.

Whitaker was born December 26, 1926, in Durham, N.C., and was graduated from Duke University in 1949 with a B.A. in philosophy. He served as a hospital corpsman in the U. S. Navy during World War II.

He married Betty Frances Abernethy, a professional church musician, in 1955. She and their three children took part in the service of consecration as bearers of the elements at the service of Holy Communion.