EAST PROVIDENCE — The Rev. Jennifer Pedrick, rector of the Church of the Epiphany in Rumford, is among five preliminary candidates selected to stand for election as the 13th Bishop of Rhode Island, officials with the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island announced Monday.
A diocesan search and nomination committee selected the preliminary slate for the 13th Bishop of Rhode Island, who will be chosen and elected at a special diocesan convention on Saturday, June 2 at St. Paul's Church in Pawtucket. Because the election will occur close in time to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in July, church canons provide for the required consents to be sought from the bishops and deputies at the General Convention. Subject to obtaining that consent, the bishop-elect will be consecrated at a ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 17 at St. George's School in Middletown.
In addition to Pedrick, this preliminary slate of candidates includes:
• The Rev. Kurt Dunkle, 50, rector, Grace Episcopal Church, Orange Park, Florida (Diocese of Florida).
• The Rev. Cathy George, 55, currently on a writing sabbatical; former priest-in-charge, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Dorchester, Massachusetts (Diocese of Massachusetts).
• The Very Rev. Nicholas Knisely, 51, dean, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Phoenix, Arizona (Diocese of Arizona).
• The Rev. Ledlie Laughlin, 52, rector, St. Peter's Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Diocese of Pennsylvania).
The five candidates were announced Monday at the annual Diocesan Convocation in Providence.
“Search and Nomination committee members spent 2½ days this past weekend in discernment with these priests, and I am very excited about what each of them would bring to the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island,” said Lora MacFall, chairwoman of the committee. “That weekend was the final step in a nine-month process that was centered in prayer, and respectful listening and conversation.”
MacFall said the process began with the development of a diocesan profile, which described the hopes and challenges of the diocese and outlined the strengths and skills the diocese is seeking in its next bishop.
More than 40 individuals responded to the profile by submitting applications that included answers to four essay questions and an autobiography.
The search and nomination committee interviewed 19 of the applicants by Skype (computer-based video technology) and then visited nine, all of whom were then invited to Rhode Island for the discernment weekend. Following that weekend, the committee agreed on the preliminary slate of five.
Pedrick, 45, was ordianed on Jan. 24, 1999 in the Diocese of Rhode Island. As rector of the Church of the Epiphany, her current leadership leadership positions include chairwoman of the Mission Task Force; Standing Committee member; and Deputy of the General Convention. Previous positions included assistant to the Rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth; teacher and chairwoman of the Humanities Department at St. Andrew’s School in Barrington; and an internship at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Tiverton.
She received her Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Sweet Briar College.
Married to Michael DeAngelo, the couple has two children.
“The tremendous human resources in the Diocese of Rhode Island, coupled with the opportunity to redevelop the Church in this place are two of the most exciting things to me in this time of transition,” Pedrick said. “Several of the challenges facing the Diocese of Rhode Island are the very things that engage me as a dis¬cerner in this search process.
“Like many dioceses across the Episcopal Church, our current number of congregations is not sustainable, and many are in decline,” she said. “The financial condition of the diocese is cause for concern. I have experi¬ence in reversing decline in a parish and would look forward to supporting motivated leaders in redevel¬oping congregations and the diocese. I would bring pastoral experience and a collaborative approach to this redevelopment ministry. I believe that the Holy Spirit would be at work, strengthening the faithful in this difficult ministry of change.”
As the chairwoman of the Mission Task Force for two years, and the primary author of the initial report, Pedrick has worked collaboratively in setting the goals to create a new direction for the diocesan mission and strategy.
“I can see that connections are emerging between congregations, diocesan bodies, and individuals who are sharing new ideas and plans for ministry,” she said. “There is evidence of joy, hope and commitment among people from across the diocese engaging the new mission focus 'feeding the hungry.”
In 2007, Pedrick led a merger of two parishes that resulted in a new congregation with a new name.
“The merger was arduous, but also a holy time of transformation for the emerging new community and for the lead¬ers and members,” she said.
“My leadership through this time called on gifts I knew I had, such as pastoral care, communication, discernment, community building, visioning and strategic planning. It also gave me the opportunity to develop new skills and discover abili¬ties I did not realize I had. I have learned to lead and foster growth in complex emotional systems. I have experience with managing conflict effectively and pastorally.”
Said Pedrick: “I have first-hand experience in the new life that comes when God’s people are willing to let go of some of the institutional trappings of Church, seek healing of past hurts and choose to join together in God’s mission. I would enjoy supporting congrega¬tions and clergy in discerning new partnerships for mission and ministry, and new ways of being the Episcopal Church in Rhode Island.”
Beginning last Sunday and continuing through 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 25, additional nominees may be added by petition.
The transition blog/website at www.episcopalrisearch.org  includes complete information about the requirements for nominations by petition, including signatures from four clergy members who are canonically resident in the Diocese of Rhode Island and four lay people who are delegates to the electing convention in each of the six Rhode Island deaneries.
All the nominees will visit the diocese for a walkabout May 11-12, which will also feature an all-day public event on Saturday, May 12 at St. Andrew's School in Barrington, where they will make remarks and answer questions from lay and clergy attendees.