[Episcopal Diocese of West Texas press release] The Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge, in a Jan. 28 letter to the diocese, announced his intention to step down from his responsibilities as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas sometime during 2017. His plans call for an orderly leadership transition over the next three years. As he begins his 11th year as a bishop this year, Lillibridge intends to remain very active, busy, and dedicated to the people and ministries of the diocese throughout this transition.
In 2017, Lillibridge will turn 61 years old and will have been ordained for 35 years. His leaving the position of diocesan bishop is by no means for retirement; rather, Lillibridge plans to stay active in his ordained ministry. He has no set plans at this time, and he trusts God will lead him when the time is right in his next season of ministry.
Asked about his announcement, Lillibridge noted, “I love and care deeply for the Diocese of West Texas and continue to be grateful for the opportunity to serve as its bishop. I grew up here, this diocese sent me to seminary, and I have served here since my ordination in 1982. We continue to have many things to do together, and we will continue to do them. I certainly have mixed feelings about this announcement, but also have every confidence that three more years is the right amount of time for both the diocese and for me.” He will speak more about these things during his annual address to Diocesan Council on Feb. 21.
During his council address, Lillibridge will also outline a plan for the election of a bishop coadjutor to be held on Oct. 25 of this year. A bishop coadjutor has the automatic succession upon the resignation of the diocesan bishop. West Texas has a long tradition (dating back to 1914) of electing a bishop coadjutor who then works closely with the diocesan bishop for a smooth and orderly transition. The Standing Committee of the diocese has the responsibility of oversight of the election process. It is expected that the bishop coadjutor will begin responsibilities in 2015.
This decision comes after deep and prayerful consideration by Lillibridge and his wife, Catherine, and they both remain deeply thankful for the diocesan family’s partnership in the Gospel.