Statement from Maryland Bishop Eugene Sutton
It is with great pleasure that I have announced, with the concurrence of the standing committee, the appointment of the Right Rev. Chilton R. Knudsen as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Maryland.
Bishop Knudsen is well known throughout the Episcopal Church as a leader and an expert in addiction and recovery with clergy and congregations. Her depth of knowledge and experience will benefit the Diocese of Maryland as we continue to learn more about this issue. Our plan and prayer is to be the mission focused diocese we aspire to be and Bishop Knudsen brings gifts that will help us.
The Right Reverend Chilton R. Knudsen, DD
8th Bishop of Maine (retired), The Episcopal Church
Bishop Knudsen is the oldest of four siblings in a Navy family. She grew up overseas (Panama, Guam/Marianas Islands, the Philippines, Japan); here began her commitment to world-wide mission. She studied biology/ecology at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, PA, earning a BA in 1968. During graduate study at the University of Pittsburgh (1969-1972), she taught at her alma mater, developing interdisciplinary courses in Behavioral Biology and Ecosystem Analysis. She later taught in the Nursing Program at a community college, and was a counselor at maternal health clinics in Pittsburgh, PA, and in Wheaton, IL.
Called to the priesthood in early adolescence, long before the Episcopal Church ordained women, she enrolled in 1977 at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, receiving the M. Div. in 1980. She was ordained deacon in 1980 and priest in 1981, first planting/pastoring a new mission in Bolingbrook, IL. In 1987, she was called as Pastoral Care Officer (later Canon for Pastoral Care) in the Diocese of Chicago. During her diocesan tenure in Chicago, she offered pastoral care to clergy, their families and congregations in crisis. She was a faculty member in Christian Ethics in the program for the Diaconate. She developed and managed the Employee Assistance Program for the Diocese of Chicago.
Elected a Trustee of the Church Pension Fund (CPF), she chaired the Benefits Policy Committee during the system-wide revision of CPF’s pension and medical insurance programs. She served on diocesan teams overseeing the ordination screening / formation process, and became qualified as an Interim Pastor. She became a recognized expert in congregational healing, authoring a chapter in RESTORING THE SOUL OF A CHURCH (Alban, 1995).
Elected Bishop of Maine in 1997, she served until retirement in September 2008, leading the diocese in mission work in New Orleans, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The Diocese of Maine formally entered into a mission partnership (Companion Diocese Covenant) with the Diocese of Haiti in 2002, and she has spent much time in Haiti over the last decade. Important accomplishments during her episcopacy include: restoration of the Vocational Diaconate, creative ministry development in small rural congregations, a successful capital campaign, inauguration of campus ministry, and important work in reconciliation/peacemaking as the diocese struggled with church-wide controversies. From 2003-2008, Bishop Knudsen was President of the Episcopal Province of New England (Province One) and sat on the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice.
Bishop Knudsen has extensive experience in conflict resolution, organizational development, and issues of addiction/recovery, especially regarding systems (congregations, dioceses, organizations) impacted by addiction – in all its forms — in clergy or lay leaders. Her audiotape Christianity and the Twelve Steps (1985) was produced by Cowley Publications. In November 2010, Morehouse-Barlow/Church Publishing released a widely-used book SO YOU THINK YOU DON’T KNOW ONE? Addiction and Recovery in Clergy and Congregations, co-authored with Nancy VanDyke Platt. She and Canon Platt also co-authored DEPENDING ON THE GRACE OF GOD: A Spiritual Journey through the Twelve Steps (Forward Movement, 2014).
She has received a number of awards and honors, including:
Outstanding Woman Leader, Chicago area YWCA 1970
Sabbatical Fellowship, Russian Orthodox Theology/Iconography 1994
Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, Seabury-Western 1999
Maine Council of Churches honoree for Religious Leadership 2000
Maine Women’s Hall of Fame Inductee 2006
Lambeth Conference Designation as Indaba Group Leader 2008
In retirement, she served as a Trustee of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, a Board member of the Tutu Institute for Prayer and Pilgrimage, a popular guest preacher, a consultant to religious organizations, a retreat/conference leader, an advocate and mission-team trainer for Haiti and a personnel/human resources advisor in church and non-profit contexts, especially in matters of addiction and recovery.
Bishop Knudsen was a missionary in the Diocese of Haiti (2009). She served as Bishop-in-Residence in the Diocese of San Diego (resident at St. Paul in the Desert, Palm Springs, CA) in early 2011. She was the Presiding Judge on the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop (2010-2011).
Coming out of retirement, she served as Interim Bishop in the Diocese of Lexington, KY, (2011-2012), then as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of New York (2013-2014). She currently serves as Assistant Bishop of Long Island, with special responsibility for establishing Episcopal Ministries of Long Island, a successor organization to previous development and outreach programs in the diocese. She continues a ministry of retreat leadership and spiritual direction. She is the Bishop Visitor to the Community of the Gospel, a dispersed co-educational Benedictine community recognized by the House of Bishops. Bishop Knudsen is liturgically and pastorally competent in French and Spanish.
Travelling is a joy, and she finds long car trips relaxing. She observes a discipline of prayer and silent meditation, spiritual reading, and working a 12-Step program. Golf, swimming, hiking, opera and classical music, and spending time with family and friends, support balance and wholeness. She and her husband, Dr. Michael J. Knudsen, a retired computer scientist and musician, make their home in Bath, Maine.