Reflections on the Consecration of the Eighth Bishop of Pittsburgh

Author:

David Wilson

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . (from the OT lesson)

As so it was, as the Rev James L. Hobby Jr. became the Rt. Rev. James L. Hobby, Jr. eighth Bishop of Pittsburgh on Saturday September 10, 2016.   Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, the Most Rev. Foley Beach, conferred the episcopal mantle upon him with co-consecrators the Most Rev. Robert Duncan Archbishop Emeritus and seventh Bishop of Pittsburgh as well as the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey Bishop of the Mid-Atlantic Diocese and the Rt. Rev. Neil Lebhar, Bishop of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese and Jim Hobby’s former diocesan bishop.

It was a great day in the life of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, in the life of the ACNA and in the life of global Anglican Christianity as well over 600 congregants joined 3 Archbishops (Beach, Duncan and Tito Zavala Abp of South America), and 23 other bishops – mostly from the ACNA but also including a bishop from the Anglican Church of Canada (which was somewhat brave given the level of hostility the Primate of the ACoC, Fred Hiltz has heaped upon the ACNA within the structures of the Anglican Communion).  The bishop who ordained Jim a deacon and a priest, the Rt. Rev. Alden Hathaway was also present in the congregation.  Jim joins four other grads of Trinity School for Ministry as bishops in the United States – all of whom are in the ACNA or Diocese of South Carolina. Three of the four were present in the service, Mark Lawrence, Ken Ross and Mark Zimmerman.

The bishops were joined in the procession by 18 deacons and 70 priests of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, at least 9 bishop’s wives, numerous members of the Hobby family (many acting as presenters), the Dean and faculty members of Trinity School for Ministry, leaders of the Anglican Global Mission Partners, and lay leaders and youth of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Lastly 8 ecumenical partners — judicatory heads, bishops and archbishops who are members of Christian Associates of Western Pennsylvania joined the procession as well.

The long procession formed in nearby Church of the Ascension and we marched on a warm, sunny day one city block to the Cathedral of St. Paul.  As we strolled we greeted the Pittsburgh police who held up the traffic on our behalf as we crossed the intersections.  At one point as we passed a PAT bus, the door opened and the female bus drive called out, “Glory to God, Alleluia, Praise the Lord”

After we entered the edifice, finished the stirring processional hymn and were all seated, Bishop David Zubik of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh offered a warm welcome his Cathedral.  Later Bishop Trevor Walters of the Anglican Network in Canada (ACNA) delivered a stalwart sermon likening Jim Hobby’s call to that of 3rd century Cappadocian father, bishop and martyr Cyprian.

A light moment came when Jim Hobby was bopped on the head with a Bible by Foley Beach as he presented it to him and urged him to preach the Word of God.  A serious moment occurred when Jim was charged to “banish and drive away from the Church all strange and erroneous Doctrine contrary to God’s Word; and both privately and publicly to call upon others and encourage them to do the same?”   Had this charge been taken seriously in the postwar Episcopal Church by its bishops and other leaders and had it been retained in the 1979 BCP then perhaps the Church would never had needed to separate.  A moot point now.

A very moving, Spirit-filled, moment was the laying-on-of hands on Shari Hobby by the bishop’s wives and the seven or eight minutes of concentrated prayer on her behalf.

Then there was the awesome worship – majestic Anglican hymns being led by a magnificent pipe organ, mixed with old gospel tub-thumpers and the very best of contemporary Christian music led by marvelous praise band.  As the worship enveloped the Cathedral, the whole of the event was summed up in the words of songwriter Chris Tomlin, “How great is our God! Sing with me.  How great is our God!  And all will see – how great, how great is our God!”   Finally, the Dean and Rector of St Paul’s Father Chris Stubna said to a member of our Altar Guild as they were loading up, “Boy, you Anglicans love to sing!”    A great day it truly was.

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