Two top candidates emerged last night in the election for the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
The Very Rev. John B. Chan, dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego, and the Rev. Harold T. Lewis, rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, led a field of six candidates for one of the most visible posts in the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church.
Although the 40,000-member Diocese of Washington is not among the 10 biggest Episcopal dioceses, it carries clout by virtue of being in the nation’s capital and by having the National Cathedral as the seat of the bishop of Washington and the presiding bishop of the entire Episcopal Church.
In times of national crisis, mourning or thanksgiving, its diocesan bishop performs keynote services at the cathedral, as Bishop Jane Dixon did Sept. 14 during a national memorial service for September 11 victims.
In order to win the election, one candidate needs a simple majority among both clergy and lay delegates. Last night there were 162 clergy and 173 laity voting.
Mr. Chan won 78 clergy votes and 78 lay votes, just four clergy and nine lay votes short of a winning margin. Mr. Lewis received 50 clergy votes and 53 lay votes.
Voting continues today at the cathedral at 10:15 a.m.
The winner replaces the Rt. Rev. Ronald Haines, who retired last year. The diocese is now headed by his suffragan bishop, Bishop Dixon, who retires this summer. The new bishop is to be consecrated June 1.
Mr. Chan, 57, oversees a 1,500-member congregation and is president of the San Diego Ecumenical Council, a group of 240 congregations. In an interview, he took great pride in having invited controversial speakers to preach from his pulpit. He and his wife, Karen, are members of Integrity, the Episcopal homosexual caucus, and march each year in San Diego’s gay-pride parade.
Mr. Lewis, 54, oversees a 1,600-member parish in the Pittsburgh suburb of Shadyside. He has openly disagreed with the more-conservative Episcopal Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh over homosexual unions. A year ago he also threatened the diocese with a financial boycott after it backed two Rwandan prelates who consecrated conservative American priests as alternative bishops.
The four runners-up, who could possibly overtake the leaders in today’s balloting, ran as follows:
The Rev. Mark Anschutz, rector of St. Michael and All Angels Church in Dallas, had 20 clergy votes and 34 lay votes.
The Rev. Lloyd Prator, rector of St. John’s Church in Manhattan, N.Y., won eight clergy votes and four lay votes.
The Very Rev. Allen Farabee, dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo, N.Y., won six clergy votes and three lay votes.
The Rev. Helen Moore, recently the interim dean of St. James Cathedral in Chicago, won no clergy votes and one lay vote.
The election began with a field of 132 candidates that was winnowed down to 42, then 20, then 12, then nine, then the six finalists.