Carl Wright elected bishop suffragan for armed services and federal ministries

By ENS Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2016

Bishop Suffragan-Elect for Armed Services and Federal Ministries

[Episcopal News Service – Detroit, Michigan] The Rev. Carl Wright was elected Sept. 20 to be the Episcopal Church’s bishop suffragan for armed services and federal ministries.

The House of Bishops elected Wright on the second ballot with 59 votes. One hundred and fifteen bishops voted and 58 votes were need for an election.

Wright is the rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in Pasadena, Maryland, in the Diocese of Maryland. In his military career, he has served as deputy command chaplain for the Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. Commissioned an Air Force chaplain in August 1993, Wright is an associate member of the Anglican religious Order of the Holy Cross (OHC). More biographical information about Wright is here.

The election took place on the closing day of the bishops’ Sept. 15-20 meeting here.

In accordance with Episcopal Church canons, Wright must undergo another round of vetting and then earn the consent of a majority of the church’s diocesan standing committees and all bishops with jurisdiction before he can be consecrated on Feb. 11, 2017.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry notified Wright of his election via speakerphone from the meeting and asked him if he would accept his election. Wright agreed, to the house’s applause.

With an office based in Washington, D.C., the bishop suffragan for armed services and federal ministries is a member of the staff of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

The other nominees were:

The Rev. Christopher Garcia, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Greenwood, Virginia, Diocese of Virginia. A career Army officer, he retired after 25 years of service in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps with the rank of colonel. He was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Iraq for Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

The Rev. David McElwain, Veterans Administration staff chaplain in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Diocese of Wyoming. A retired Navy commander, he served as pastoral care chaplain at the Naval Hospital Jacksonville, Florida, and as command chaplain, supervisory chaplain and battle group chaplain, USS Nassau Amphibious Ready Group.

All three nominees met with the House of Bishops on Sept. 17.

Christopher Weaver, rear admiral, U.S. Navy-retired, chaired the search committee.  Members of the committee included: Major Gen. Razz Waff, U.S. Army (Ret.); Chaplain (Col.) Paul Minor, U.S. Air National Guard; Col. Stephen Dalzell, U.S. Army (Ret); Chaplain (Col.) Carl Andrews, U.S. Air Force (Ret.); Chaplain Marion Thullbery, Department of Veterans Affairs; Chaplain Christine Waweru, Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Prior ENS coverage of the bishops’ meeting at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in downtown Detroit is here.


Comments (11)

  1. Lori Fehr says:

    Great news!!

  2. Jeffrey Neuberger says:

    With gratitude for the work of the Holy Spirit in Carl’s life, I give thanks for his election. Carl brings a host of skills to this episcopate and I’m delighted for the church and for those to whom Carl will minister. I have been blessed to call Carl a colleague and friend for over eighteen years and this is great news.

  3. Kirk Bigger says:

    This is great news! Father Carl Wright was our chaplain at Malmstrom AFB when he was active duty. Prior enlisted service and eventually a Wing Chaplain; no better person for the job! God has called correctly!

  4. Cn. Shirley M. Watts says:

    Congratulations and Best Wishes to The Rev. Carl Wright.

  5. Kevin Miller says:

    Alleluia Alleluia! Give Thanks to the Risen Lord!

  6. Elsie Kirton says:

    Congratulations to Fr. Carl Wright and his family.

  7. Jane Gormley Bullion says:

    This man is an amazing man of God and His children! I’m very excited to hear this good news! Congratulations! Well deserved!!

  8. Norman Hutchinson says:

    I received this news, posted by a very good friend, on Facebook with mixed emotions. I am sure that Carl Wright is a very good man and priest as many people have said in the comment section above. My “mixed emotions” are not about him, but about the conflict of having any Christian clergy person in the military. This conflict can be seen visually when one looks at Carl’s picture with him dressed in a military uniform and posed in front of the flag of the United States. It begs the very question Jesus posed about serving two masters. Some will argue, with some justification, that those in the military deserve clergy to minister to their religious needs and this is not entirely incorrect. However, in the September – October issue of Sojourners magazine on page 9 Chris Antal addresses this question in a short article entitled “I Refuse To Be An Empire Chaplain”. In the article he addresses his reasons for becoming a military chaplain and then explains why he decided to leave that service. He says in part, “I learned that the U.S. military chaplains are not allowed to have a prophetic voice; they are expected to be nothing more than empire chaplains.
    Empire chaplains, like empire churches, represent what T. Jeremy Gunn calls the ‘American National religion,’ an unholy trinity of governmental theism, military supremacy, and capitalism as freedom. These chaplains … cloak state violence with the garb of piety, lend religious legitimacy to military campaigns, and conflate God and country.”
    In his book Saving Jesus From The Church author Pastor Robin Meyers, after citing Constantine’s decision to paint the cross on his shoulders shields and reminding us of Jesus’ comment about wanting to protect the people of Jerusalem like a mother hen he says, “One can only wonder how the world would have been different if Constantine had painted a mother hen on the helmets of his soldiers, wings spread to protect a brood of helpless chicks, instead of the cross. How strange that a symbol of nonviolent resistance and redemption ends up becoming part of a military uniform … Today the cross is quite literally wrapped in the American flag, as if there were no contradictions between the world’s only superpower and the symbol of God’s power made perfect in weakness.”
    As followers of the Prince of Peace we, as Episcopalians, need to consider the dicodomy of being and having military chaplains in the U.S. armed service and of having unquestioned support for military action required of military chaplains.

    1. Harold B. Baldauf says:

      You may be assured, Mr. Hutchinson, that Carl Wright will provide exemplary service and leadership in his new position. I can tell you this from two perspectives: that of a lifetime Episcopalian and also as a proud veteran who clearly understands and appreciates the values of both institutions, as well as their interwoven existence. Reverend Wright is currently my son’s and daughter-in-law’s pastor and baptized two of my grandchildren, and I have had the pleasure of speaking with him on many occasions. I cannot think of anyone who would be a better fit in this position, as he understands both institutions thoroughly.

  9. The Rev. Thomas M. Rardin says:

    Carl can sing. Carl is devout. Carl is my friend. My only sadness is as I am retired, I may not see him in person. Please know that my spouse Chris and I are delighted and will be praying for you!!!!

  10. The Rev. Carol Sims says:

    Carl, congratulations! This is wonderful news and know you will be an excellent replacement for Jay. It’s been a long journey from our Montana days.
    God’s blessings, Carol

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