The American Cathedral in Paris notes on its website a “readiness to offer any hospitality” to Notre Dame’s “community and congregation” in the aftermath of that beloved historic cathedral’s devastating April 15 fire.
The top signer of the note is a recently ordained Episcopal bishop who has been until this month rector of St. John’s Church in Newtonville and director of the Amherst College Press.
The Right Rev. Mark D.W. Edington, a Harvard Divinity School graduate, was invested as the 26th bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe during ordination and consecration services April 6 at what is officially the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity on Avenue George V, off the Champs-Elysees.
The church’s history stretches over two centuries with early ties to American expatriates. It functions both as a parish headed by the Very Rev. Lucinda Laird as well as a seat for the bishop in charge of the U.S. Episcopal’s churches in Europe.
The Right Rev. Douglas Fisher, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, was among the six co-consecrators during the April 6 ceremony led by the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, the 27th Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
“Mark is now the bishop for nine churches and 25 missions spread through six countries in Europe,” said Fisher of Edington’s responsibilities.
“Some of them are small with around 100 members each. Others are quite large. The Cathedral in Paris has over 1,000 members. These churches were all started by American Episcopalians living in Europe but now they have many members from the neighborhoods they serve. The typical congregation is multi-cultural and multi-lingual.”
A native of Michigan, Edington graduated from Albion College there with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and political science.
He went on to become an Episcopal minister, earn two graduate degrees and hold posts in academic publishing, senior administrative positions at Harvard, become a media commentator in the area of foreign policy as well as religion, work with nonprofits on development projects in Africa and serve his church in such roles as rector at Saint Dunstan’s Church in Dover and as Protestant chaplain at Wellesley College.
He was ordained in 2001, named an undergraduate chaplain at The Memorial Church at Harvard and remained at Harvard to serve as senior executive officer of the Center for the Study of World Religions and the Harvard Decision Science Laboratory.
A graduate of Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Edington worked for 10 years early in his career as an analyst at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis in Cambridge.
He has served as founding director of the Amherst College Press since January 2014, and also served as publisher of Lever Press, founded by the college and a consortium of 80 liberal arts colleges.
He was elected bishop in charge on the eighth ballot during a Convocation convention last October in Belgium.
The other nominees were the Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler, president of CARAVAN, an international peace-building nonprofit; the Rev. Steven D. Paulikas, rector of All Saints’ Church in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Very Rev. Benjamin Shambaugh, dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Portland, Maine.
Edington responded to his election by telling Convocation members he would work with them “from a position of learning and posture of humility.”
“I come to you as a person eager to learn, eager to be a disciple,” Edington said.
Asked during the interview process about lifestyle habits, Edington said that he and his wife, Judith, a Boston College and Harvard Law School graduate, have sustained community wherever they lived by “having people around our table frequently; our dining room table is a cornerstone of the ministry we have built together.”
When asked why he viewed Edington as a good bishop in charge choice for the Convocation that includes congregations in France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria, Fisher stressed both Edington’s learning, outreach and an ability to model faith and community in a pluralistic society.
“These churches, they are multi-lingual and multi-cultural. Mark has the skills to work in such a context,” Fisher said.
“Europe has become overwhelming secular. The Church cannot continue ‘business as usual’ where the presumption was most people go to church and the bishop and church leaders are called to care only for them. Mark has the courage and creativity to reach out beyond church walls and connect to what the Spirit is doing ‘out there.’”
The other co-consecrators included outgoing Bishop in Charge of the Convocation Pierre Whalon; Massachusetts Bishop Alan Gates, Massachusetts Suffragan Bishop Gayle Harris; Connecticut Bishop Ian Douglas and Archbishop Joris Vercammen of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands which is in communion with the member churches of the Anglican Communion.
The ceremony was reported to have included an additional 35 bishops, 70 priests and 315 lay worshipers.
The Very Rev. Andrew B. McGowan, dean, president and McFadden Professor of Pastoral Theology and Anglican Studies at the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale University, was preacher.
Fisher, who has protested with those seeking immigration and gun control reform, said his question to Edington as part of the service was: “Will you be merciful to all, show compassion to the poor and strangers, and defend those who have no helper?”
“It is a question asked at my consecration and a question I ask myself everyday,” Fisher said.
“Mark responded: ‘I will, for the sake of Christ Jesus.’ It was a great moment for me to ask that question.”
McGowan in his sermon told Edington, “Christians are pilgrims, not colonists” and that Christ in his resurrection told apostles to “Go away” to “make disciples of all nations.”
“That is what inclusion looks like not the invitation into our tiring organizations for their sake, but the recognition that it is God who has already included us all in Christ, who calls us to look out rather than in, and thus sends us. ‘Go away.’” McGowan said.