Alan Gates of Ohio Elected Bishop of Diocese of Massachusetts

The people of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts have elected an Ohio parish priest to be their next bishop.

At the special electing convention held on Saturday, April 5, clergy and lay delegates elected the Rev. Alan M. Gates, the rector of St. Paul’s Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, to succeed the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE as the 16th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.  The electing convention took place at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in Boston. 

In order to be elected, a candidate needed to receive a simple majority of votes from both theThe Rev. Alan M. Gates clergy and lay delegates, voting separately as “orders,” on the same balloting round.  Gates secured election on the fourth ballot, receiving 157 clergy votes and 188 lay votes, with 145 and 164 needed, respectively, for election.

There was a delay in the proceedings after the third ballot had been cast because an error was discovered in the first ballot’s lay vote tally.  The corrected results for ballot one were posted, and ballots two and three were then deemed invalid.  Fourth ballot results and the election were announced at 3:40 p.m.

Gates’s election must now receive consent from a majority of the Episcopal Church’s diocesan bishops and a majority of its dioceses.  Pending that consent, the bishop-elect’s consecration is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Sept. 13 at the Agganis Arena at Boston University, with the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding.

“To return to the Diocese of Massachusetts a quarter century after my ordination to the priesthood there will be a genuine delight.  To be called to do so as bishop-elect is an unimagined honor and a privilege beyond the telling,” Gates said in a statement following the election.  “I am humbled to follow the episcopate of Bishop Tom Shaw who has led the diocese with grace and courage for 20 years.” 


The other six candidates were the Rev. Holly Lyman Antolini, Rector of St. James’s Church in Cambridge, Mass.; the Rev. Timothy E. Crellin, Vicar of St. Stephen’s Church in Boston; the Rev. Ronald Culmer, Rector of St. Clare’s Church in Pleasanton, Calif.; the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, Rector of St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia; the Rev. Canon Mally Lloyd, Canon to the Ordinary of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts; and the Rev. Sam Rodman, Project Manager for Campaign Initiatives for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

“Alan is a skilled pastor and he has an appreciation for the complexity of the Diocese of Massachusetts.  I have real confidence in his ability to lead this diocese forward with creativity and dedication.  It will be a pleasure working with him in these next months,” Bishop Shaw said following the election. 

“It was a long day, but it was worth taking that extra procedural time,” Shaw said of the tally correction made during the balloting process.  “I was impressed with people’s desire to make sure everything was in order,” he said.

Shaw became the 15th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts in January 1995.  In preparation for retirement, he plans to resign his office at the time of the bishop-elect’s consecration in September.

The Diocese of Massachusetts, established in 1784, is among the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest, in terms of baptized membership, and comprises 183 parishes, missions, chapels and chaplaincies in eastern Massachusetts.

Gates, 56, has been the rector of St. Paul’s Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, since 2004.  He is a graduate of Middlebury College and undertook graduate studies at Georgetown University.  He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.  He was ordained to the priesthood in 1988 and served congregations in the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts and Chicago prior to his call to Ohio. He and his spouse, Patricia J. Harvey, live in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and have two children. 

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