WEST MISSOURI: Martin S. Field consecrated as 8th bishop

Episcopal News Service. March 7, 2011 [030711-03]

Pat McCaughan

The Rt. Rev. Martin S. Field, 54, was officially seated as eighth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Missourion March 6 before "a packed house" of about 400 at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City.

"Bishop Field preached, it was a wonderful occasion, particularly for him since his family and friends from Michigan were still here for it. The sermon was about getting ready for Lent," said the Very Rev. Douglas P. Johnson, rector of St. Peter's Church in Harrisonville, and chair of the diocesan transition committee.

A day earlier, nearly one thousand well-wishers gathered at the Muehlbach Hotel in downtown Kansas City as Field was ordained and consecrated, Johnson said.

"It was high energy and folks are excited and we're glad to get off and running," Johnson added.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori served as chief consecrator. Co-consecrating bishops included: Michael P. Milliken of Western Kansas; G. Wayne Smith of Missouri; Dean E. Wolfe of Kansas; and Barry R. Howe, retired bishop of West Missouri.

The Rev. Dr. George Clifford, priest-in-charge of the Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, North Carolina, recalled being a chaplain with Field in the U.S. Navy. He told the gathering that they'd have to try "to keep up with the new bishop, that he would move at a pretty good clip," Johnson recalled.

Other bishops attending included: Larry R. Benfield of Arkansas; Edward J. Konieczny of Oklahoma; J. Scott Mayer of Northwest Texas; Terry A. White of Kentucky; Steven A. Miller of Milwaukee; S. Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan; C. Wallis Ohl of Fort Worth and John Buchanan, retired diocesan bishop of West Missouri and Robert Shahan, retired diocesan bishop of Arizona.

The ecumenical community was well-represented, including: the Rev. Dr. Bart Hildreth, district superintendent, Ozarks District North, United Methodist Church; the Rev. Charles Spencer, executive presbyter, Heartland Presbytery, Presbyterian Church USA; the Rev. Dr. Myron McCoy, president, St. Paul School of Theology, Kansas City; Abbot Gregory Polan, OSB, Conception Abbey, Conception, Mo.; Dr. Paul Diehl, regional minister, Christian Church, Disciples of Christ; and the Rev. Leonard Dale, bishop's associate for outreach, Central States Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

A 130-voice choir from 26 of the diocese's 50 congregations supplied music at the service, Johnson said.

Field has said the diocese "has a lot of work to do … and that he wants to have a lot of conversation with folks in the diocese," Johnson said.

Field was serving as rector of St. Paul's Church in Flint, in the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan, when he was elected Nov. 6, 2010. He succeeds the Rt. Rev. Barry Howe, 67, who was elected in 1997 and in 2009 announced his decision to retire.

Field was also assistant to the bishop for congregational life and dean of the Flint River Valley Convocation in the Eastern Michigan diocese. He had served congregations in Tennessee, Hawaii, Maryland and Ohio prior to moving to Flint in 2003.

He described his ministry experience as rural, urban and suburban in "settings racially homogeneous as well as settings resplendent with wide racial and ethnic diversity," in a written statement posted on the Missouri website.

He was ordained to the diaconate Oct. 10, 1991 and to the priesthood May 2, 1992. He holds a bachelor's degree in religious studies from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia and a master of divinity degree (1983) from the Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky. He is currently working on a doctor of ministry degree in congregational development at the Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

He and Donna Cassarino were married Aug. 4, 1979. The couple has two adult children.