Following a search lengthened by the coronavirus pandemic, the Diocese of South Carolina has elected the Rev. Canon Ruth Woodliff-Stanley as its fifteenth bishop on the second ballot.
The diocese’s announcement of the election notes that:
Once consecrated in October, Bishop-elect Woodliff-Stanley will be the first female to serve as bishop in the more than 200-year history of the historic diocese.
Woodliff-Stanley, who currently serves as Canon for Strategic Change for the Dioceses of Northwestern Pennsylvania & Western New York, and the Senior Vice President for Strategic Change with the Episcopal Church Building Fund, was elected on the second ballot in an election that was fully conducted on Zoom due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There were five candidates on the slate for this election, and on the second ballot Woodliff-Stanley received 26 of 34 clergy votes and 13 of the 19.5 votes from the lay order representing the parishes and missions of the diocese. To win the election, a candidate needed to carry the required majority in both the Lay and Clergy Orders on the same ballot.
Bishop-elect Woodliff-Stanley joined the Convention on Zoom to address the delegates and all of the diocese just after the election results were announced. “You have given a vision of what is possible,” the Bishop-elect shared with those attending the Electing Convention virtually, adding “It’s a vision I hope I can honor.” She went on to say: “Ours is the call to see the hearts of all the people of the world, beginning with one another.”
South Carolina’s previous bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence, was removed from Episcopal ministry in late 2012 following a public proclamation that the diocese had disassociated itself “legally and canonically” from the Episcopal Church and aligned with the Anglican Church in North America. (Episcopal News Service throughly detailed the events surrounding Lawrence’s removal at the time.) The diocese has since been led by two provisional bishops, the second of whom retired in 2019.
You can read more about the Bishop-Elect on the South Carolina bishop search website. Her ordination and consecration is scheduled for October 2, 2021, pending consents from a majority of Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction.
(Note: this post has been updated to include the official announcement from the diocese.)