[Episcopal News Service] The Rt. Rev. George Wayne Smith, former bishop of Missouri, was elected provisional bishop of the Diocese of Southern Ohio during a special virtual diocesan convention on July 17. Smith was nominated by the diocesan Standing Committee, which has served as the diocese’s ecclesiastical authority since the resignation of Bishop Thomas Breidenthal in November 2020 due to health problems.
Smith was elected on the first ballot of both the lay and clergy orders, the diocese reported. He will begin his duties as provisional bishop on Aug. 15.
A provisional bishop has the same ecclesiastical authority and status as a diocesan bishop but serves for a limited time, similar to a parish priest-in-charge. Smith will serve for an initial period of two years, the Standing Committee wrote in an email announcing the results.
Smith was elected bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Missouri in 2001 and ordained a bishop in 2002. Later that year, he was seated as the diocesan bishop, a role in which he served until 2020.
“We are thrilled with this outcome,” the Standing Committee wrote. “Our diocese is at an exciting moment as we build on our strengths and address our opportunities for learning and growth. In due course, once the necessary benchmarks are completed, we will appoint a search committee to begin the process leading to the search, election, and ordination of our next diocesan bishop. For now, our diocese will be in excellent hands with the leadership of Bishop Smith.”
The Rt. Rev. Ken Price Jr., the Rt. Rev. Nedi Rivera and the Rt. Rev. Wendell Gibbs will continue to serve the diocese as assisting bishops.