Bishop Lee to serve at Grace Cathedral

The Diocese of California announced today that Bishop Peter Lee, the bishop of the Diocese of Virginia will serve as Interim Dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Lee will begin this ministry in October of this year and will serve until the new dean has been installed.

Alan Jones, the recently retired dean of the Cathedral stepped down at the end of January of this year.

The press release from the Diocese of California states:

“Peter Lee brings outstanding experience as a community builder and will be a voice of moderation in this time of transition,” said Andrus. “During this period, the congregation and the diocese are reassured that Grace Cathedral will be in good hands as we prepare for our future ahead. Peter is an iconic bishop, and the perfect interim dean for this iconic cathedral.”

Lee is known both in the Diocese of Virginia and in the wider Episcopal Church as a moderate who intentionally reached out to people in both wings of the denomination attempting to keep as many people around the table as possible.

The full press release follows:

The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee Named Interim Dean of Grace Cathedral

San Francisco, March 6, 2009 – The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California, today announced the appointment of the Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee, currently Bishop of Virginia, as interim dean of Grace Cathedral.

Lee will assume this new role on Oct. 1, 2009, the date which coincides with his resignation as Bishop of Virginia. He will serve as interim dean until a new, permanent dean of Grace Cathedral is installed, targeted for Michaelmas (Sept. 26) 2010. Andrus is currently serving as the dean, following the retirement of the Very Rev. Alan Jones, the seventh dean of Grace Cathedral on Jan. 31, 2009.

It is the standard practice of The Episcopal Church to have an interim period between deans, allowing for the reassessment and planning of the next phase of a church or cathedral’s life, especially after a long and successful dean’s tenure.

“Peter Lee brings outstanding experience as a community builder and will be a voice of moderation in this time of transition,” said Andrus. “During this period, the congregation and the diocese are reassured that Grace Cathedral will be in good hands as we prepare for our future ahead. Peter is an iconic bishop, and the perfect interim dean for this iconic cathedral.”

“The Board of Trustees values Bishop Lee’s acumen both as a gifted spiritual leader and a talented administrator,” said Greg Scott, chair of Grace Cathedral’s Board of Trustees. “He has successfully led a large and complex diocese for a quarter century. Bishop Lee’s tenure will enable us to search for a new dean while continuing our mission in spiritual advancement and to the broader Bay Area community.”

For 25 years, Lee has led the Diocese of Virginia, the nation’s oldest Episcopal Diocese, which was founded in 1785. Stretching south from the Washington, D.C. suburbs to the Shenandoah Valley, the Chesapeake Bay, and Richmond, the state capital, the diocese is comprised of 181 congregations, 80,000 members and 455 clergy, making it the largest diocese in The Episcopal Church.

A new dean search committee, led by chairs Valerie Crane Dorfman and Tobias Keller, was formed in fall 2008, and is comprised of lay and ordained cathedral and community leaders. The search will be global in reach. The committee’s goal is to deliver recommendations to Andrus that will then be approved by Grace Cathedral’s Board of Trustees and result in the installation of the new dean, targeted for Michaelmas (Sept. 26) 2010.

About Bishop Peter James Lee
Bishop Peter James Lee was raised in Pensacola, Florida. He was graduated magna cum laude from Washington and Lee University in 1960, and studied law at Duke University before entering Virginia Theological Seminary, where he received his M.Div. cum laude in 1967.

He was ordained to the diaconate in June 1967 by Bishop Hamilton West of Florida and to the priesthood in May 1968 by Bishop William Creighton of Washington. He served as a deacon at St. John's Cathedral, Jacksonville, Florida, and from 1968‑1971 was assistant minister at St. John's Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.

In 1971, Bishop Lee became rector of the Chapel of the Cross, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the parish that serves both the community and the University of North Carolina, and continued as rector there until he was consecrated a bishop in May 1984. Bishop Lee became the 12th Bishop of Virginia on May 27, 1985, upon the death of the Rt. Rev. Robert H. Hall, his predecessor.

Bishop Lee was awarded the honorary degree of doctor of divinity by the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1984, by the University of the South in 1993 and the degree of Doctor of Letters from Washington and Lee University in 1998. He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Virginia Theological Seminary and Rector of the Board of the Episcopal High School in Alexandria. As Bishop of Virginia, he is Chairman of the Board and President of Shrine Mont, Inc., and chairs the Memorial Trustees (the body that owns the Virginia Diocesan Center at Roslyn) and the Trustees of the Funds of the Diocese of Virginia (a shared investment vehicle for use by Virginia diocesan institutions). He also presides at the annual meeting of the Church Schools in the Diocese of Virginia, Inc. He has been a trustee of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale.

The Bishop is currently a member and co-chair of the Board of Trustees of the Church Pension Fund and he is co-chair of the Joint Nominating Committee for the Presiding Bishop.  He has served on the Board of Directors of the Greater Richmond YMCA, the Board of Directors of the National Alliance to End Homelessness and the Advisory Committee to the Anglican Observer at the United Nations. He previously served as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief and was chairman of its grants committee. He also served as a member of the Cathedral Chapter of the Washington National Cathedral.

In 1997, Bishop Lee received the Jessie Ball duPont Fund Award for "courageous and bold commitment to community leadership and social ministry," from the trustees of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.

Before he entered seminary, Bishop Lee was a U.S. Army intelligence officer and was decorated for service with the U.S. Eighth Army in Seoul, Korea. He has been a newspaper reporter and copy editor in Memphis, Tennessee; Pensacola, Florida; and Richmond, Virginia.

Until they relocate to San Francisco in late Sept., Bishop Lee and his wife Kristina live in Richmond; their married children are a daughter, Stewart, a son, James, and they have five grandchildren. 

About the Diocese of California
The Episcopal Diocese of California is seeking to enter a new era of the Church’s life emphasizing mission, diversity and collaboration. We believe The Episcopal Church has a charism, a gift, to be a generous form of Christianity. The Diocese of California has embraced the vision put forth a hundred years ago by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, later espoused by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that we should manifest “the beloved community” – the living out of our essential interrelatedness in Christ.

About Grace Cathedral
Grace Cathedral is home to a community where the best of Episcopal Christian tradition courageously embraces innovation and open-minded conversation, where inclusion is expected and people of all faiths are welcomed, where beliefs are put into action and where people are encouraged to seek God and progress on their own spiritual journey. This renowned San Francisco landmark serves as a regional magnet where diverse people gather to celebrate, seek solace, converse and learn.

Comments (2)

From the bishop to his diocese:

March 6, 2009

Dear Friends,

When I announced my resignation as bishop at January's Annual Council, I said I was considering new steps in my ministry. I have now accepted the call of Bishop Andrus of California to serve as interim dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, after I have resigned as Bishop of Virginia on October 1, 2009.

While I will depart Virginia with sadness at leaving so many whom I love, I am excited and challenged by the call to serve at one of the nation's primary urban cathedral churches.

I began ordained ministry at an urban cathedral, St. John's in Jacksonville, Florida, and I have spent many years emphasizing the diversity and continuity of our Anglican tradition which are so well expressed in a cathedral's ministry.

After a year or so of cathedral ministry, Kristy and I expect to retire in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where we were living when I was elected Bishop in Virginia.

I look forward to these next seven months together as we all prepare for the next chapters of our service to the Lord and the church.

Faithfully yours,

Peter James Lee

Bp. Lee, who for years and years halted any discussion on homosexual inclusion in his own diocese and disagreed with the deposition of schismatics who were openly threatening to take property and assets of the Episcopal Church, now accepts a position at one of the most diverse and inclusive churches in the US.

My question is... Will he celebrate the same-sex blessings he never allowed to exist, and accept the ministry of openly partnered gay and lesbian priests he refused to ordain in his former diocese?

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