Over a year ago the Standing Committee of the Diocese appointed twelve persons to serve on a Bishop Search Committee, choosing persons who represented the diversity of our great Diocese. The members of the Committee were charged to “seek candidates whose experience and manner of life derive from his or her Baptismal Covenant, who strive to live a life built around Scripture and prayer, being a faithful pastor dedicated to unity, being faithful to the disciplines of the Church, and respecting the dignity of every human being.”
The Search Committee sought the best candidates possible to lead our Diocese as God wills. They have worked diligently and tirelessly in the discharge of their duties over the course of the last year. Their work was accomplished with great care and unceasing prayer spent over countless hours and meetings and emails and video conferences and more. As President of the Standing Committee I have been privileged, while serving ex officio on their committee, to bear witness to the inspiring dedication of the Search Committee.
On behalf of the Standing Committee, I am thrilled and humbled to announce those candidates who, after a holy and rigorous process of discernment, have been selected by the Search Committee and who have consented to have their names placed in nomination for the election of The Fourth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee.
Your servant in Christ,
The Rev. Gary Meade,
President, Standing Committee
Updates posted on the Search for the Fourth Bishop of West Tennessee website: https://wtnbishop.com/.
Upon the recommendation of the Bishop Search Committee and nomination by the Standing Committee of The Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee, the Standing Committee presents to the diocese three priests as nominees for the Fourth Bishop of West Tennessee:
The Rev. Marian Dulaney Fortner
Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Hattiesburg, MS, Diocese of Mississippi
Greetings, West Tennessee, from your neighboring Diocese of Mississippi, and thank you for your invitation to continue the discernment as you search for your fourth bishop. These are exciting days for all of us! As one who grew up in the Episcopal church in nearby Tunica, Mississippi, during the 1960s and early 1970s, your journey was in many ways a familiar one to me. Thus, I am drawn to your stories, your struggles, and your triumphs best described in your profile history and as explored more deeply with your search committee. I sense in you a movement toward a common purpose of drawing others to the love of God in Christ through communal worship and prayer, service to others, and work toward a more just world. I am honored to among your nominees.
Currently, I am in my tenth year as rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, a faithful parish serving downtown Hattiesburg for more than a century. My path has taken me from twelve years of practicing law in Mississippi to General Theological Seminary in New York where I graduated in 1996. I was ordained to the diaconate in June of that year and to the priesthood on February 15, 1997. Since then I have served in faith communities of various sizes and compositions in Mississippi and Arizona. My years make me grateful for the breadth of practice and expression we find in the Episcopal “middle way” where we truly find room for all. I am married to Tom Fortner, whose own calling throughout his legal career has been to defend the criminally accused, both as a public defender and in private practice. We have one daughter, Alley, who is now married and raising our much beloved eight-month old grandson, William.
The Rev. Sarah D. Hollar
Rector, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Huntersville, NC, Diocese of North Carolina
Greetings, good people of the diocese between the two rivers. I introduce myself to you by first saying I appreciate the care, the prayer, and the committed attention your search committee took in bringing me to you. I am both humble and joyful, curious and eager to meet more of you.
I come to you as a rector, a convocational dean, a daughter, wife, mother, baseball and theatre lover, follower of new church initiatives and keeper of the most essential traditions. North Carolina has been my home for most of my life, but I come from the pioneer stock of Texas. My husband is a futurist and that leads to intriguing conversations. We have four adult children and it is exciting watching them navigate their lives in the age we live. I am a UNC grad, a Virginia Theological Seminary grad and was ordained in 2004.
I want you to know that I love serving God’s church. I love preaching and teaching and being with the people of God in the holy moments of their lives. I love talking about the movement of God in our lives and how the church can be that place that encourages you in trials and rejoices with you in times of transformation. I love thinking about how the community of believers can change the world by spreading life giving good news. I like to co-create a vision and work collaboratively to make it so. I think God may have a plan for us to grow and explore new ways of being church together. I ask your prayers as we continue to discern what God holds for us. Please know I hold you in mine.
The Rev. Phoebe A. Roaf
Rector, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, VA, Diocese of Virginia
The Diocese of West Tennessee’s commitment to the Good News of Jesus Christ led me to submit my name to your discernment process. I am a lifelong Episcopalian who grew up in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, a couple of hours from Memphis. I was an active member of several congregations when I worked as a public policy analyst and a commercial real estate attorney. When I sensed God’s call to ordination, I prayerfully trusted the Holy Spirit to lead me in the right direction. I graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2008 and I have served two parishes in New Orleans and Richmond since my ordination.
I sense tremendous potential in the Diocese of West Tennessee as you honor the fundamental aspects of our Episcopal identity and incorporate new approaches to ministry. I would welcome the opportunity to collaboratively discern God’s vision for how the diocese can address issues that impact our lives today. I am comfortable in a wide variety of settings and can effectively communicate in multi-cultural and multi-racial contexts. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of your discernment process.
“Almighty God, Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer: we pray that you will continue to send your blessings to the Diocese of West Tennessee, and to all those who will participate in the search for our next Bishop. We pray that you will give us open hearts, wisdom, and clarity of thought and that our efforts will be guided by the Holy Spirit. Give us the courage and perseverance to find and elect a person who will be for us a Shepherd, who will follow in the example of Jesus Christ, and whose voice and actions will promote unity in a church and a society too often divided. May our search be a product of the love, mercy, and grace you extend to all of God’s children. Amen.”
Prayer written by The Reverend Deacon Randy McCloy