[Diocese of New Jersey] In a grand three-hour service on June 24 at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton, the Rt. Rev. Sally J. French was consecrated as the 13th bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey. She is the first woman ordained to this position in the 238-year history of the diocese.
“I am delighted and joyful at gathering today and at my call to serve you and walk with you as your new bishop,” French told the congregation moments after receiving the bishop’s crozier from her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. William H. Stokes. “It is an honor and a joy and a privilege to be with you as your new bishop. I promise I already love you, and I will walk with you in love. I will serve you, and we will journey together, in the strong name of Jesus, our Lord.”
More than 500 people attended the service in person, with several hundred more joining online via the diocesan website and social media channels. The chief consecrator was the Rt. Rev. Mary Gray Reeves, vice president of the House of Bishops and retired bishop of El Camino Real. She was joined by Stokes, as well as North Carolina Bishop Samuel S. Rodman, retired Georgia Bishop Scott A. Benhase, Newark Bishop Carlye J. Hughes, Rio Grande Bishop Michael Hunn, and former Christchurch Bishop Victoria Matthews, in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.
The preacher for the service was Toronto Suffragan Bishop Kevin Robertson, in the Anglican Church of Canada. “I have known your new bishop for almost 30 years; we went to seminary together in Toronto,” Robertson said in his sermon. “If you haven’t discovered it already over the past few months, you have chosen a wise and experienced priest to be your new bishop. She is smart as a whip. She has a heart of a pastor. She is a powerful force in the Jesus movement.
Prior to her election, French served as canon for regional ministry and collaborative innovation in the Diocese of North Carolina. Before that, she spent 20 years in parish ministry. She designed and oversaw the process to revise the “Journey to Adulthood” youth ministry curriculum that has been used by thousands of Episcopal congregations since 1995.
French was raised in Toronto, Canada, in a secular home. She was baptized, confirmed and sponsored for ordination through campus ministries at the University of Toronto.
She is married to the Rev. Clarke French, who is the interim rector at St. Peter’s, Pine Street in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and they are parents to teenagers Jack and Libby.
Founded in 1785, the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey, headquartered in Trenton, consists of more than 130 congregations in the southern two-thirds of the state.
Video and photos of the service are on the diocesan website.