The Right Reverend George Elden Packard (2000 – 2010)
V Bishop Suffragan for the Armed Services, Healthcare and Prison Ministries
George Packard distinguished himself in this Episcopate in many ways. His Chaplains thought of him as “the Pastor’s Pastor” in honor of his outward and visible love for God and God’s people. He was a career citizen-soldier. A Viet Nam hero, he had received the Silver Star and two Bronze Stars with “V” device, for valor. He further distinguished himself with his service during Operation Desert Storm. He retired a US Army Reserve Chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel. After pastoring parishes in the Dioceses of Southern Virginia and New York, he was appointed Canon to the Ordinary to The Rt. Rev. Richard Grein, Bishop of New York.
Bishop Packard was consecrated with great fanfare and Gospel music, on 12 February 2000, in the Washington National Cathedral, by the Most Rev. Frank Tracy Griswold, III, the XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church. And of course, this Episcopate and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship collaborated on a Vigil for Peace beforehand.
Bishop Packard’s ministry epitomized “practicing what he preached.” He continued the tradition of collaborating with the Episcopal Peace Fellowship and is their Chaplain to this day. He works for peace. When this nation was dastardly attacked by extremists, 11 September 2001, Bishop Packard was one of the first responders at the World Trade Centre. Likewise, when Hurricane Katrina virtually destroyed New Orleans, Louisiana, Bishop Packard was much like an “on-scene commander,” ministering to hundreds.
Back at “home,” Bishop Packard did a lot of reorganizing of this ministry. He relocated our offices from the Church headquarters in New York to the more appropriate site of the nation’s capital, where we would have better access to the Department of Defense and its subordinate units. He hired more staff members to serve our ever-growing portfolio of ministries. And he finally convinced the Church that the “Diocese of Micronesia” should be more appropriately linked to the Diocese of Hawai’i; with the Presiding Bishop having direct canonical responsibility for it.
Notably, while in office, Bishop Packard was given the honor of being Board Chairman of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces (NCMAF), the highly influential organization of Ecclesiastical Endorsers who lobby for the interests of military Chaplains.
Since retirement, Bishop Packard has been no less busy a pastor. He is now known for his Christian activism both in peacemaking and in the new Occupy Movement. At his side is his very talented spouse, Brook – a Church Musician and author – who greatly supported and enhanced the Bishop’s ministry to us.
Of the many and varied staff ministers who served under Bishop Packard, chief among them were first Executive Assistant, Chaplain, Lieutenant Colonel William C. Noble, then Executive Assistant, Chaplain, Commander Gerald Blackburn.
Anecdote: From Bishop Wright: Bishop George visited me everywhere I went, and I do mean everywhere! Ever the Pastor – and before he was even consecrated – he visited me in my hospital room in Saint Mary Immaculate Hospital, Jamaica Queens, NY, after my appendix burst on an international flight! I was very grateful for his ministrations, but it took me a while to figure out he was my new Bishop! Or, again, when I was in a very rough patch – where Chaplains sometimes find themselves – Bishop George and Brook Packard dropped everything and traveled a great distance to help me. And it is no exaggeration to say my situation changed favorably after their visit.