WASHINGTON: Bishop Chane to retire in 2011

Episcopal News Service. February 1, 2010 [020110-02]

ENS staff

Episcopal Diocese of Washington Bishop John Bryson Chane announced Jan. 30 that he will retire in the fall of 2011.

Saying that he was calling for the election of his successor "not because of any health reasons, or because I am burned out or bored," Chane, 65, told the diocese's 115th annual convention at Washington National Cathedral that "I love what I do and I deeply love this diocese."

Instead, he said in 2011, "it will be time to elect a younger person to lead what I consider to be the best and one of the most influential dioceses in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion."

Chane became the eighth bishop of Washington in June 2002; he has spent the last 38 years in ordained ministry.

The diocese's Standing Committee will form a search committee in March to compose a diocesan profile, screen nominees and select a group of potential successors. Chane hopes an election will be held in May or June 2011 with the consecration in September or October of that year, he said.

Chane has been named by Washingtonian magazine as among the "Power 150" list of the most influential leaders in the District of Columbia and recognized by the Sunday Telegraph in London as one of the 50 most prominent leaders in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

He is known for his outspoken support of marriage equality for gays and lesbians; allows his clergy to bless same-sex relationships and blesses such relationships himself; and he supported the District of Columbia's 2009 decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

Under Chane's leadership, the diocese quadrupled its Spanish speaking membership, and opened the Bishop John T. Walker School for Boys to provide a free education to underprivileged boys in the district's poorest neighborhoods.

He is the co-founder of the Episcopal Church's "Bishops Working for a Just World," which seeks solutions to domestic and global poverty, universal health care and the environmental crisis.

In 2003, Chane established a partnership between his diocese and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, helping the church earn two multi-million dollar grants from the U. S. government to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS and malaria.

In 2006, he extended a controversial invitation to speak at Washington National Cathedral to former Iranian president Mohamed Khatami, and the two became allies. Chane has since traveled to Iran on numerous occasions, speaking to, and studying with numerous religious leaders at seminaries and universities in the cities of Tehran and Qom, according to a diocesan news release.

The bishop has spoken on links between religion and terrorism at the National Defense University and the U.S. State Department's "Secretary's Open Forum."  Next month he will present a paper on the role of religion in public diplomacy at the Brookings Institution's U.S. Islamic World Forum," held in Doha, Qatar, the release said.

The Diocese of Washington comprises 89 congregations and some 42,000 members in the District of Columbia, and Montgomery, Prince Georges, Charles and Saint Mary's counties in Maryland.