[Diocese of Nevada] The Rt. Rev. Elizabeth Bonforte Gardner was ordained and consecrated as the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada on March 5 at Christ Episcopal Church in Las Vegas. Gardner succeeds the Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards, who retired in December 2018.
March 5 was proclaimed Bishop Elizabeth Gardner Day by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. On Ash Wednesday, just three days before her consecration, Gardner was offering ashes to pedestrians on the famous Las Vegas Strip.
“My deep heart’s desire is that we begin a new season today of resurrection, hope, justice and love in the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada that will be a beacon for all,” said Gardner during the service. “This day has been years and years in the making. To every parish, to every person, to every congregation, to every mission, to every outreach project, to every person you have touched, thank you. I am honored and humbled to be here with you today and I am so grateful. The gifts today will go for the ministry of the Diocese of Nevada.”
Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry served as the chief consecrator. Joining Curry as co-consecrators were: the Rt. Rev. Peter Eaton, bishop of the Diocese of Southeast Florida; the Rt. Rev. Dan Edwards, retired bishop of the Diocese of Nevada; the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, retired presiding bishop and retired bishop of the Diocese of Nevada; and the Rt. Rev. Gretchen Rehberg, bishop of the Diocese of Spokane.
More than a dozen other bishops were in attendance, including the Rt. Rev. Mark Lattime, bishop of the Diocese of Alaska, who will serve as a special adviser to Gardner, and the Rt. Rev. David Bailey, bishop of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland.
The Rev. Donna S. Mote of the Diocese of Southwest Florida preached at the service, sharing the knowledge she has gained from a lasting friendship with the newly ordained bishop first formed in a CREDO small group.
“There is no going back. Christ will come again; the 1950s will not. The mission has not changed; the movement inaugurated by Jesus continues. And some of our most beloved models and methods no longer connect with, no longer reach the world and the cultures in which we live and the people who share them with us,” Mote said. “There is no going back; there is only going forward. And, especially when we are going forward, we need reliable partners and trustworthy companions traveling beside us as we find our way. The 11th bishop of Nevada will be such a partner. You can trust her. She will come out to meet you where you are – even on the Las Vegas Strip on Ash Wednesday.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person seating was limited, but the service was livestreamed and is available on YouTube.
Born in Pueblo, Colorado, at the same hospital as her mother and grandmother, Gardner received a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in public policy from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Master of Divinity degree, cum laude, from Virginia Theological Seminary. Gardner moved to Washington, D.C., to “save the world.” She worked for Rep. Barbara Vucanovich of Nevada on Capitol Hill and then was lured to big business working for Nordstrom, eventually buying women’s career clothing for the mid-Atlantic region. Gardner went back into politics and started her own successful consulting firm before beginning ordained ministry. She is married to Christopher Gardner and they have two adult daughters.
“As a cradle Episcopalian, I am committed to helping our branch of the Jesus Movement thrive,” Gardner said. “This is a crucial time.”
As diocesan bishop, Gardner will lead 30 churches (including parishes, missions and worshiping communities) affiliated with The Episcopal Church in Nevada, plus one congregation in Bullhead City, Arizona. The diocese represents more than 5,500 members, and more than 125 priests and 20 deacons who are either canonically resident or licensed to serve the diocese. Before the pandemic, the Diocese of Nevada consistently ranked as one of the fastest-growing dioceses in The Episcopal Church, with an 11% increase in baptized members from 2010 to 2019.