George Edward Councell was born in Detroit and baptized in St. John’s Episcopal Church in Royal Oak, Michigan in 1949. He was raised in Whittier, California, where he attended public schools. In 1967 he enrolled at the University of Redlands, where he met his future wife, Ruth Tietjen. They were married in 1971.
In 1971, after graduating from the University of California, Riverside (with honors, Phi Beta Kappa) he then enrolled in the Episcopal Divinity School. He graduated in 1975 (M.Div., with distinction).
He was ordained Deacon and Priest in 1975 by the Right Reverend Robert C. Rusack, Bishop of Los Angeles. For two years he served as Vicar of Grace, Colton and St. Luke’s, Fontana, California. In 1977, he was called to St. George’s, Riverside, California where he was elected the first Rector at the time that St. George’s was admitted as a parish of the Diocese of Los Angeles in 1982. While serving in Riverside, he was also Episcopal Chaplain at the University of California and Chaplain of Riverside Hospice.
In 1986 George Councell was called to the Diocese of Western Massachusetts as Canon to the Ordinary under the Right Reverend Andrew F. Wissemann. He assisted the bishop with the pastoral care of the clergy, leadership training for vestries, ecumenical and interfaith affairs, and the administration of the diocese. He was a deputy to General Convention and chair of the diocesan deputation in 1991 and 1994.
Called to be the ninth rector of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Lake Forest, Illinois in 1995, George Councell and the parish, during its centennial year 2002 , raised funds to purchase and renovate a church home for Iglesia Episcopal Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, the newest mission church of the Diocese of Chicago.
George Councell was elected the Eleventh Bishop of the Diocese of New Jersey on May 3, 2003, and consecrated on St. Luke’s Day, October 18, 2003 in Trinity Cathedral in Trenton.
Bishop Councell is Vice-President of Province II and serves on the Board of Trustees of General Theological Seminary, the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice, and the Joint Standing Committee of Program, Budget and Finance.
Ruth Tietjen Councell, an artist and illustrator of six children’s books, has recently worked in botanical illustration and oil painting. George and Ruth have two adult daughters: Sarah Councell Turner is on the staff of Bread for the World, in Washington, D.C. Dr Martha Councell Vargas is a professional flutist and faculty member at Western Michigan University.