At the Diocesan Convention held in Maryland last week, a resolution approved “the creation of the position of Assistant Bishop,” to be appointed by the Bishop with the consent of the Standing Committee, “under such conditions as the Bishop Diocesan may determine, until such time as the election of a Bishop Suffragan is deemed appropriate.”
The Assistant Bishop has been named as the Rt Rev Chilton R. Knudsen, former Bishop of Maine, presently serving as Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Long Island.
The Baltimore Sun has covered the case of former Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook in detail since the crash in which cyclist and family man Thomas Palermo died in December. Cook has since been arraigned on a number of charges including vehicular homicide and manslaughter charges, leaving the scene of a fatal accident, and drunk and distracted driving She has pleaded not guilty, and her trial is set to begin next month. Cook recently accepted deposition as an ordained minister in an Accord reached with the office of the Presiding Bishop.
Reporting on the announcement of Knudsen’s appointment, the Sun wrote,
Knudsen, 68, says she sees the “heartbreaking” death of Palermo, a married father of two who was well known in the local cycling community, and the recent unrest in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray as tragedies that, while devastating, can, with prayer, serve as catalysts for change.
“In my very devoted Christian heart, I believe that every … moment of pain and every experience of grief and loss and anger breaks us open in a way that allows new things to happen,” she said in a telephone interview Monday. “I believe God can bring beautiful things out of awful things.
“I’m ready to help the Diocese of Maryland be part of that resurrection.”
Knudsen has co-authored two books on alcohol addiction and recovery, and has been public about her own struggles with addiction and ongoing recovery. In March, she led a Clergy Day workshop in the Diocese of Maryland on addiction and recovery issues. The Sun coverage continues:
Most who commented on her appointment were enthusiastic about it, including the Rt. Rev. Robert W. Ihloff, a former bishop of Maryland who has criticized the national church for taking more than four months to defrock Cook.
“I have known Bishop Knudsen throughout her episcopacy and consider her one of the leading bishops of the Episcopal Church — an excellent choice!” he said in email.
Indeed, most said her expertise would very likely become a strength in her new job.
“Given what sounds like the state of her recovery, I think she’s at a lower risk [of difficulties] than the average person would be,” said Dr. Benjamin Carey, a lifelong Episcopalian and a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction. “She knows how recovery works. She’s likely to have special insight in this area.”
Carey, of Virginia Beach, Va., was an outspoken critic of the Maryland diocese after Palermo’s death, arguing that it didn’t do enough to ensure that Cook remained in recovery after the 2010 incident.
Nate Evans, the president of Bike Maryland, a bicycle advocacy group that helped lead a commemorative ride for Palermo in January, said the hire shows the diocese has carefully considered just how it needs to reform.
He wasn’t prepared to comment as a cycling community leader, he said, but as a Christian, he was enthusiastic.
Knudsen will take up her new position in the Fall.
Photo credit: www.dioceselongisland.org. Posted by Rosalind Hughes