With new bishop, Pa. Episcopalians seek to rebuild trust

The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania has elected a new leader to succeed Bishop Charles Bennison.

Bennison left the church under fire for several reasons, including failing to act back in the 1970s on the knowledge that his brother was having sex with a young parishioner.

“Bishop Bennison lost the trust of many of the clergy and many of the lay leaders within the diocese over the course of several years of ministry,” said the Rev. Ledlie Laughlin. 

“As we look to the future, there’s a great need to return a sense of trust,” says Laughlin, president of the Standing Committee that governs the diocese. The panel formally called for the bishop to resign in 2010.

Bennison, however, refused to resign until after Episcopal Church’s General Convention finally created a way for dioceses to force out their bishops in July. Bennison announced his retirement in October, effective at the end of last year.

Laughlin, the rector of St. Peter’s Church in Philadelphia, called the mood at the Philadelphia cathedral this weekend for the election of interim bishop Clifton Daniel extraordinary.

“We’re a big and significant diocese within the Episcopal Church,” he said. “We need to get our act together …  so we can be about the act of ministry. It feels like a new day and that’s a good thing.”

The new bishop will serve at least two years while the diocese searches for a permanent leader.

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