The Living Church

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The Living ChurchDecember 27, 1998Western New York Elects Its 10th Bishop by Don Hill217(26) p. 6

Western New York Elects Its 10th Bishop
Fr. Garrison began his ordained ministry in the Roman Catholic Church
by Don Hill

The rain and gloomy clouds outside St. Paul's Cathedral in Buffalo, N.Y., Dec. 5, did not dampen the enthusiasm with which clergy and lay delegates gathered to elect the Rev. J. Michael Garrison, 53, the 10th Bishop of Western New York.

Fr. Garrison was born in Philadelphia, Pa. He was ordained deacon in 1970 and priest in 1971, in the Roman Catholic Church. Received as deacon and priest in the Episcopal Church in 1975, he served as assistant at St. Paul's, Sparks, Nev., before becoming regional vicar. He is married to Carol Sohanney Garrison and has three children, three stepchildren and two grandchildren.

"I feel humbled by the trust the people of Western New York have placed in me," Fr. Garrison told the Buffalo News.

Following a celebration of the Holy Eucharist at which the retiring Bishop of Western New York, the Rt. Rev. David C. Bowman, presided, the electoral convention began. The nominating committee placed in nomination the names of Fr. Garrison, vicar for southern Nevada and vicar for the development of ministry, Las Vegas, Nev.; the Rev. Leander S. Harding, rector, St. John's, Stamford, Conn., and the Rev. Carol W. Hull, rector, St. George's, Dayton, Ohio. (A fourth nominee, the Rev. Paul Kowalewski, rector, St. David's, DeWitt, N.Y., had withdrawn his name from consideration prior to the electoral convention.)

Another candidate, the Very Rev. Alan W. Farabee, dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, Buffalo, had been nominated by petition from within the diocese. Three diocesan clergy were nominated from the floor: the Rev. Michael E. Hartney, rector, St. Matthias', East Aurora, N.Y.; the Rev. Canon Richard C. Rowe, deputy to the Bishop of Western New York; and the Rev. Charles W. Whitmore, rector of St. Mark's, Orchard Park, N.Y.

By the second ballot, Fr. Harding had enough lay votes for election but lacked sufficient clerical support. Before the third ballot, two of the local nominees, Fr. Hartney and Fr. Rowe, withdrew their names. The third ballot found Fr. Garrison with an election in the clergy order and Fr. Harding with an election in the lay order. Prior to the fourth ballot, the convention went into a committee of the whole for purposes of discussion. A succession of delegates gave two-minute speeches in support of their candidate. This session lasted a half hour.

The fourth ballot was cast and Fr. Garrison's election was declared. The Doxology was sung. Fr. Garrision, contacted by phone, accepted the election.

"I am humbled and, I must admit, a bit surprised. I am also very grateful ... I know that with God's grace we'll move together into the future as the people of God in Western New York."

After the testimonials were signed, the diocesan delegates joined in a Liturgy of Thanksgiving for the election of the 10th Bishop of Western New York. An April 24 consecration is anticipated, once canonical consents are received.

(The Rev.) Don Hill

'I feel humbled by the trust the people of Western New York have placed in me.' Fr. Garrison