[Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth press release] The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, a group of elected clergy and lay leaders, announced on April 10 that the Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas, is the nominee for the next provisional bishop of Fort Worth. The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., provisional bishop of Fort Worth, has called a special meeting of the convention on May 16 at which the diocese’s clergy and lay representatives will vote on Mayer’s nomination.
The Standing Committee selected Mayer in consultation with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and in accordance with Canon III.13.1 of The Episcopal Church.
In a letter to the diocese sent on April 10, High said he is stepping down five months before the planned date of November 2015 following the death of his wife, Pat, in March.
“I feel very good about this decision of the Standing Committee, and I am in full support of their recommendation,” High said in his letter.
Mayer will continue as bishop of Northwest Texas while also serving as bishop of Fort Worth under the proposed arrangement, which will continue until the Fort Worth diocese is positioned to elect a full time bishop. The plan calls for him to split his time between the two dioceses. The dioceses are not merging. This model of episcopacy is similar to the arrangement with the Rt. Rev. Edwin F. (Ted) Gulick, Jr., the diocese’s first provisional bishop who also was serving as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky at the time. A similar arrangement currently exists with the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe, who serves as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania and as provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania). The previous two provisional bishops of Fort Worth have been retired. The Rt. Rev. C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., the second provisional bishop, was the retired bishop of Northwest Texas when elected. High had retired as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas when he was elected.
The Rev. Curt Norman, president of the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, said, “When the Standing Committee began working on episcopal transition plans back in November 2014, our intention was to build on the faithful work of previous Standing Committees. Our predecessors chose quite well with bishops Gulick, Ohl, and High. Our work was cut out for us because each of those bishops was God’s choice for our diocese at the appropriate time. In recent months, we’ve had discussions with the Presiding Bishop’s office, as well as different bishops across the Episcopal Church. After considering which models of episcopacy would best support the mission and ministry of Fort Worth for the long term, this Standing Committee is firm in its resolve that God is calling Bishop Mayer to shepherd us into the next chapter in the life of our diocese. We could not be more excited.”
“It is with gratitude and a deep sense of calling that I accept your invitation to stand for election as your provisional bishop,” Mayer said. “I love Fort Worth and I am passionate about the proclamation of the Gospel as expressed in and through The Episcopal Church.”
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said that High “has been a gift to the Diocese of Fort Worth and I am grateful for all his good work. I applaud his ability to recognize what is best for him and the diocese in this season of loss for him and his family. Bishop Mayer is an excellent choice to be part of this provocative — and I mean this in the best sense of the word — arrangement to serve the Church in new and imaginative ways. Bishop High, Bishop Mayer, and the people of both dioceses are in my prayers.”
If elected, Mayer will assume his new duties prior to the 2015 General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City this summer. He will work with the deputation – elected lay and clergy deputies to General Convention – from Fort Worth as well as the deputation from Northwest Texas. High’s official day of departure from office is June 30.
High lives in Fort Worth, and along with the Rt. Rev. Sam B. Hulsey, retired bishop of Northwest Texas who also lives in Fort Worth, will be available to assist Mayer as needed.
Mayer is a native and lifelong Texan, born in Dallas and raised in Lubbock and Fort Worth. Mayer has long and deep connections to Fort Worth. He and his younger brothers were baptized and confirmed at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, attended Fort Worth public schools, graduated from Southwest High School, and enjoyed memorable summer days playing ball at University Little League. Several family members continue to reside in the Fort Worth area.
In 1977, Mayer received his BBA Degree in Management from Texas Tech University. He and Kathy Kistenmacher met while attending Texas Tech, and were married in 1978. After 12 years of sales in the automotive aftermarket, the family moved to Austin where Mayer earned a Master’s in Divinity from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in 1992.
Mayer was ordained deacon in 1992 by the Rt. Rev. Donis Patterson and priest in 1993 by the Rt. Rev. James Stanton, both in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. He then served as curate at St. James Episcopal Church in Texarkana, before being called to the Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, first as associate rector in 1994, and then as rector in 1995. He was consecrated as bishop of the Diocese of Northwest Texas on March 21, 2009 in Lubbock, where he and Kathy now reside. The Mayers have two grown children, both married, and two grandchildren.