New head of the Episcopal Church in Delaware to be ordained

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry (left) and Bishop-elect Kevin Brown of the Episcopal Church. (Submitted photo/Episcopal Diocese of Delaware)

DOVER — The last time the head of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Delaware stepped down, it took 17 ballots across multiple days to elect a successor. This time around, only five ballots and a few hours were required.

Kevin Brown, formerly the rector of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Charlotte, North Carolina, was selected in July as the next bishop for the Diocese of Delaware and will be formally ordained and consecrated today. A ceremony will be held at Delaware State University, with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, the leader of the Episcopal Church, in attendance.

“Delaware, it’s an exciting place, it’s an interesting place, and that’s part of the call that I felt, and as I met people, I would see that there’s a hospitality that I found here that I have really, really come to enjoy,” Bishop-elect Brown said Friday.

He is the 11th bishop in the history of the Diocese of Delaware.

A native of North Carolina who graduated from Duke University, served in the Air Force and worked for FedEx, the 49-year-old bishop-elect joined the clergy 10 years ago. Though he had been a member of the faith virtually his entire life and was a strong believer, Bishop-elect Brown had no interest in becoming a priest until he was an adult.

Gainfully employed and married, he seemed to have everything. But something, the bishop-elect recalled, was missing: “There was a disquiet in my spirit.”

In search of answers to life’s great questions, he turned to the church.

“Long story short, I ended up at seminary. So, I sort of overshot,” he said with a laugh. “I just wanted to go to church, and next thing I knew, a couple years later I’m at seminary to become a priest.

“It was a sense of taking my faith seriously that I’d had in me. The seeds had already been planted, long been planted, and I started praying really seriously for the first time in my life, and when you take prayer seriously, stuff happens. So here I am.”

The Diocese of Delaware has 34 congregations and about 9,300 members around the state. It is a part of the Anglican Communion, which boasts more than 80 million members throughout the world.

“No local congregation is an island unto itself, no diocese is an island, no Episcopal Church in the U.S. and in 16 other countries is an island, but together we constitute the whole, the body of Christ,” Presiding Bishop Curry said.

Bishop-elect Brown, who began performing the duties of the office several weeks ago, follows Wayne Wright, who retired in February after 19 years leading Delaware Episcopalians.

The new bishop-elect was chosen by a mixture of clergy and churchgoers after a long process that involved answering essay questions, participating in interviews over Skype and meeting a search committee in person. More than 50 people applied, and among the five finalists was the Rev. Patricia Downing, rector of Trinity and Old Swedes Parish in Wilmington.

Bishop-elect Brown said he has already met with members of the clergy in Delaware and plans to visit every Episcopal church in the state.

He already has a connection to Presiding Bishop Curry: The Church of the Holy Comforter, where Bishop-elect Brown spent seven years, is part of the Diocese of North Carolina, which Presiding Bishop Curry served as the bishop of for 15 years.

At Holy Comforter, Bishop-elect Brown led the merger of English and Spanish preschools into one facility focused on bilingual education, especially for low-income and immigrant families.

Like most people, Bishop-elect Brown has had ups and downs in his life. As he got older, he grew wiser, he said, and turned to the church, which he characterized as a family.

He described himself as excited and humbled to take on the mantle of bishop.

“This is just the beginning. We’re celebrating the start,” he said. “It’s a little bit like baptism and since baptism is just the start of the journey, the ordination (today) is just the start of our journey together.”

The Diocese of Delaware was formed in 1785, although it was overseen by the bishop of the Diocese of Pennsylvania until 1841. It is one of the oldest Episcopal dioceses in the country.

“There’s a real sense that our best days are ahead,” Bishop-elect Brown said.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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