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Practically two years after election, Episcopal Diocese of Chicago’s first Black feminine bishop takes workplace

LOMBARD, Illinois (RNS) — Everybody would have understood if Bishop Paula E. Clark had stepped away from her name to steer the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, mentioned her fellow bishop, Mariann Edgar Budde of Washington.

Simply weeks earlier than she was set to take workplace in April 2021, Clark experienced a brain bleed whereas exercising. Surgical procedure adopted, suspending her consecration to June, then to August, then indefinitely as she labored by speech, bodily and occupational therapies.

As Clark regained her well being, her husband, Andrew McLean, was identified with a number of myeloma and died in November.

Bishop Paula Clark was ordained the primary feminine and first Black bishop to steer the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago on Sept. 17. 2022, on the Westin Chicago Lombard in suburban Lombard, Illinois. RNS photograph by Emily McFarlan Miller

“Paula by no means as soon as wavered — not as soon as,” mentioned Budde in a sermon on the worship service celebrating Clark’s ordination as bishop on Saturday (Sept. 17) on the Westin Chicago Lombard Lodge on this Chicago suburb.

“Now Paula is aware of methods to let go when that’s what’s greatest, however she by no means let go of you, Diocese of Chicago, and he or she by no means let go of the decision that God positioned on her coronary heart and yours.”

Clark is the primary feminine and first Black bishop to steer the Chicago diocese.

On Sunday, she is going to take her seat within the chair, referred to as a cathedra, symbolic of her place, at a worship service at St. James Cathedral in Chicago.


RELATED: Episcopal Diocese of Chicago elects the Rev. Paula Clark, its first Black and first female bishop


“The method of confirming a brand new Bishop within the Diocese of Chicago has been lengthy, difficult, typically heartbreaking, however all the time guided by God,” Clark wrote in a letter of welcome to those that attended her ordination.

“I want to thank the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago in your steadfast loyalty and religion. You have got believed in me, prayed for, comforted, and inspired me even by troublesome instances. You have got held quick to your religion and confirmed me what God-centered management actually is. Most of all, you’ve saved the religion and overcome, regardless of repeated setbacks.”

Bishop Paula Clark was ordained as the first female and first Black bishop to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago on Sept. 17. 2022, at the Westin Chicago Lombard in suburban Lombard, Illinois. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

Bishop Paula Clark was ordained the primary feminine and first Black bishop to steer the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago on Sept. 17. 2022, on the Westin Chicago Lombard in suburban Lombard, Illinois. RNS photograph by Emily McFarlan Miller

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, head of the Episcopal Church, served as chief consecrating bishop through the ordination service.

Curry and the Rev. Anne B. Jolly, president of the Diocese of Chicago’s standing committee, had mentioned repeatedly they anticipated Clark to finally function bishop.

Bishop Paula Clark was ordained as the first female and first Black bishop to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago on Sept. 17. 2022, at the Westin Chicago Lombard in suburban Lombard, Illinois. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

Bishop Paula Clark was ordained as the primary feminine and first Black bishop to steer the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago on Sept. 17. 2022, on the Westin Chicago Lombard in suburban Lombard, Illinois. RNS photograph by Emily McFarlan Miller

Budde by no means doubted it both, she mentioned. “Being within the presence of Paula Clark and watching her in motion is like taking a grasp class in Christian management. That was true earlier than all that transpired within the final 18 months, and it’s much more so now,” Budde mentioned in her sermon.

A local of Washington, D.C., Clark beforehand served as canon to the extraordinary and chief of employees beneath Budde within the Diocese of Washington. She pursued the priesthood after the loss of life of her mom, who didn’t approve of ladies’s ordination.

However the Diocese of Chicago, Clark mentioned after her election, “actually captured my coronary heart.” The diocese consists of 122 congregations and greater than 31,000 baptized members in northern and west central Illinois.

Clark succeeds Bishop Jeffrey D. Lee, who was unable to attend Saturday’s service.

However Lee recalled Clark’s election in December in a statement on the diocese web site, saying, “At the same time as we peered by our Zoom screens at each other, navigating the unfamiliar territory of a digital bishop election, your sense that she was referred to as to serve with you — that the Holy Spirit was drawing you collectively — was palpable.”

“It was a joyful event.”

Bishop Paula Clark was ordained as the first female and first Black bishop to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago on Sept. 17. 2022, at the Westin Chicago Lombard in suburban Lombard, Illinois. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

Bishop Paula Clark was ordained as the primary feminine and first Black bishop to steer the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago on Sept. 17. 2022, on the Westin Chicago Lombard in suburban Lombard, Illinois. RNS photograph by Emily McFarlan Miller

Saturday’s service additionally was stuffed with pleasure — a high quality Clark brings to every part she does, Budde mentioned.

The Diamano Dancers and Drummers carried out a West African dance referred to as lamba as they processed into the service alongside Episcopal, ecumenical and interfaith clergy from throughout the Chicago diocese and past.

Greater than 20 clergy had adopted Clark from Washington, D.C., the place she is “a lot beloved,” mentioned Canon Anne-Marie Jeffery of the Diocese of Washington.

About 125 members of the Union of Black Episcopalians had come from throughout the nation the evening earlier than the ordination for a reception to revel within the church’s celebration of individuals of colour. Much more had arrived Saturday morning, mentioned the Very Rev. Kim L. Coleman, president of the Union of Black Episcopalians.

They needed to indicate a “tangible illustration of our love” for the brand new bishop as she leads the diocese — the place, Coleman identified, the Union of Black Episcopalians’ first president, the Rt. Rev. Quintin Ebenezer Primo, Jr., as soon as served as suffragan bishop.

“She (Clark) overcame and is an instance for us, so it’s a really proud second,” Coleman mentioned.

Many clergy danced and clapped as they processed, their smiles clear even beneath face masks.

Bishop Paula Clark was ordained as the first female and first Black bishop to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago on Sept. 17. 2022, at the Westin Chicago Lombard in suburban Lombard, Illinois. RNS photo by Emily McFarlan Miller

Bishop Paula Clark was ordained as the primary feminine and first Black bishop to steer the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago on Sept. 17. 2022, on the Westin Chicago Lombard in suburban Lombard, Illinois. RNS photograph by Emily McFarlan Miller

In any case that had occurred within the final two years, after the vestments have been positioned over Clark’s shoulders, after she had led the recitation of a confession of religion and presided over communion, the brand new bishop lifted her fingers.

She clapped together with the tune she had chosen for the choir to sing at that second: “(Lord) you’re the supply of my power / You’re the power of my life / I elevate my fingers in whole reward to you.”

Clark appeared to wipe tears from her eyes because the ordination service resulted in prayer.

“Thanks be to God,” the folks responded, following the order of service.

Then, impromptu: “Now we have a bishop!”


RELATED: Episcopal Diocese of Chicago postpones consecration of bishop-elect after brain bleed


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