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TORRINGTON, CONN (SZS) — On September 13, 2014, Bishop Wilma Kucharek represented the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States, with about 4 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region, at the Consecration of the newly elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Bishop Kucharek was among the six co-consecrating Bishops participating in the Consecration and, in keeping with our ecumenical agreement with the Episcopal Church in the USA called Call to Common Mission, represented the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates is the new Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. Bishop Gates is the former rector of St. Paul’s Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where he served since 2004. He is a graduate of Middlebury College and undertook graduate studies at Georgetown University. He holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1988 and served congregations in the Episcopal dioceses of Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts and Chicago prior to his call to Ohio. He and his spouse, Patricia J. Harvey, have two adult sons.

Boston University’s Agganis Arena was transformed almost overnight from sporting arena to sacred space on Saturday, Sept. 13. Some 4,000 participants and guests from around the country and across the globe attended the consecration. The event opened with the colorful pageantry of processions that began at 10:30 a.m., with the liturgy itself beginning at 11 a.m. The diversity of the Episcopal Church in eastern Massachusetts was fully evident through the many voices, languages and musicians that were part of the service. A massed choir of 550-plus singers from nearly 75 parish choirs presented themselves with musical excellence, along with a gospel choir, a brass ensemble, a steel drum band and a handbell choir. The diocese also welcomed the Rt. Rev. Mark Hollingsworth Jr., Bishop of the Diocese of Ohio, and formerly a priest of the Diocese of Massachusetts, as the preacher. Following Hollingsworth’s sermon came the sacred and solemn highlight of the service, when the participating bishops placed their hands on the bishop-elect’s head during the prayer of consecration.

Bishop Gates succeeds the current bishop, the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, who has served the Diocese of Massachusetts since 1995 and who resigned his office at the time of the consecration on Sept. 13. The Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, established in 1784, is among the Episcopal Church’s oldest and largest in terms of baptized membership, and comprises 180 parishes, missions, chapels and campus chaplaincies in eastern Massachusetts.

This is not the first time Bishop Kucharek has served as the Lutheran co-consecrater at an Episcopal Consecration: She also participated on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in the Ordination and Consecration of the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, who was consecrated Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut on April 17, 2010 at the Koeppel Community Sports Center, at Trinity College in Hartford.


Bishop Kucharek with the Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates


Agganis Arena as the crowd gathers and the choir rehearses


Close-up of the stage


Bishop Kucharek with the Episcopal co-consecrators at the laying on of hands


Bishop Shaw greets Bishop Gates, and presents him with the diocesan crozier


Bishop Gates, with his family at his side, is recognized following his consecration, the highlight of the service


Bishop Gates waves as he recesses


Bishop Kucharek certifies the Call with her signature, adding it to others on the Call Certificate


Bishop Kucharek affixes her seal to the Call document


The Luther Rose in wax, the seal attesting to Bishop Kucharek’s presence at the Consecrating Ceremony, and symbolic of the ELCA’s participation and communion with the Episcopal Church