[Diocese of Massachusetts] Bishop Alan M. Gates has appointed Bishop Carol J. Gallagher to serve as assistant bishop in the Diocese of Massachusetts.
The appointment comes as Bishop Suffragan Gayle E. Harris prepares to retire after 20 years of active episcopal ministry. A start date of Feb. 1 for Gallagher will allow for transition consultation as Harris completes her work in the diocese on Dec. 31 and then takes sabbatical time ahead of her official retirement date of March 31.
Gallagher has been serving in the Diocese of Massachusetts since November 2018 as a regional canon, providing transition ministry with congregations and clergy involved in search processes for new ordained leadership, along with lay leadership development and clergy wellness support for the congregations of the diocese’s Central Region.
“It has been a privilege to have served in the Diocese of Massachusetts as regional canon for these past four years. I am excited and honored to now work alongside Bishop Alan Gates as the assistant bishop. The Diocese of Massachusetts has been and continues to be a place of inclusion and justice, peopled by folks serving Christ as they love their neighbors,” Gallagher said.
Regional canons Martha Hubbard and Kelly O’Connell and the canon for immigration and multicultural ministries, Jean Baptiste Ntagengwa, will temporarily share the duties for the Central Region, allowing for a review of the current regional staffing structure that has been in place since 2018.
“I am so grateful that Bishop Gallagher has accepted my invitation to join in episcopal leadership here in the Diocese of Massachusetts. She brings to us lengthy experience as a bishop in a variety of contexts. She is especially knowledgeable about ministry in small churches, which represents a growing portion of our congregations. She is dedicated, humble and kind, and possesses the heart of a pastor. Because she has been serving our diocese as regional canon these past four years, she knows many of our communities and begins with a deep relational base already established,” Gates said.
In The Episcopal Church, an assistant bishop is appointed from among those who are already bishops and meet eligibility requirements outlined in church canons. An assistant bishop serves under the direction of the bishop diocesan, who determines the assistant bishop’s term of service. (This is different from a bishop suffragan, who is elected as such by a diocese and whose tenure there is not determined by the bishop diocesan.)
Gates opted not to call for the election of a successor bishop suffragan following Harris’s retirement. In his annual address to the Diocesan Convention on Oct. 29, he said that compelling reasons for his decision included the financial expense and length of time required to undertake a search, election and consecration process.
In accordance with Episcopal Church canons, the Diocesan Convention voted to create the assistant bishop position and authorized Gates to appoint an eligible bishop to that position with the advice of the Executive Committee of Diocesan Council and consent of the Standing Committee.
The Standing Committee on Nov. 11 gave its unanimous approval for Gallagher’s appointment. “On behalf of the Standing Committee, I will say, we look forward to Bishop Gallagher’s transition into the assistant bishop role. This decision provides continuity during a time of change,” Louise Gant, the president of the Standing Committee, said.
The Diocesan Council’s Executive Committee provided its counsel when it met on Nov. 17, expressing appreciation for the appointment of a bishop who can continue work on diocesan mission strategy, including its priorities of racial and environmental justice.