"It has been a distinct privilege to serve two presiding bishops and this church in the ongoing quest for Christian unity," Epting said. "As we move into the future, ecumenical and interreligious work will have to be done differently, and fresh thinking will be necessary to see how this might best be accomplished."
"I am very grateful for Bishop Epting"s abundant and effective gifts in ecumenical and interreligious work over the last several years," commented Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori. "We will miss him and his gifts."
According to the Presiding Bishop"s office, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Ferguson, associate deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations since 2001, will serve as interim ecumenical officer at Epting"s retirement.
Ferguson noted, "It's been a pleasure to work with Bishop Epting, and I am glad to serve as interim. Serving as associate deputy for the last eight years brings important continuity to our ecumenical partnerships. I have a strong commitment to the ecumenical and interreligious engagement of the Episcopal Church."
Bishop Christopher Epting
Epting was elected Bishop of Iowa in 1988 following 16 years as a parish priest in the Diocese of Central Florida. While Bishop, Epting focused on the ministry of all the baptized, the renewal of the diaconate, spiritual formation, and ecumenical relations both locally and nationally. He was a leader in the state council of churches, Ecumenical Ministries of Iowa, and chaired The Episcopal Church"s writing team on "Called to Common Mission" effecting full communion between The Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
In 2001, then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold asked him to serve as ecumenical officer, marking the first time a bishop was given this responsibility. As ecumenical officer, Epting served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches, staffed bilateral dialogues with the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian churches, the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee, and the Jewish-Christian dialogue of the National Council of Churches. From 2001 until 2009, he served on the Inter Anglican Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations.
Epting is a graduate of the University of Florida and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and holds an STM from General Theological Seminary.
Following his retirement as ecumenical officer, Epting will serve as interim dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Davenport, Iowa.
The Episcopal Church, with 110 dioceses in 16 nations, is a member province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
The Episcopal Church: www.episcopalchurch.org
Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations: http://www.episcopalchurch.org/eir.htm