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First woman Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Montana elected

Posted at 10:49 AM, Dec 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-09 12:50:22-05

The Episcopal Diocese of Montana has elected the Reverend Martha Stebbins as the 10th Bishop of the Diocese, and the first female bishop of Montana in the 152 year history of the Diocese.

“I’m thrilled to have arrived and settled in Montana, and excited to start my ministry,” said Rev. Stebbins. “Montana, I think it’s a little bit different than maybe some other diocese simply because even before women had the right to vote, you all sent a woman to Congress. Montana has a very long history of having women not only in formal leadership, but certainly in informal leadership.”

Rev. Stebbins most recently served at the St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Wilson, North Carolina. She is also a board-certified veterinarian with a PhD in veterinary bacteriology.

As Bishop Rev. Stebbins will oversee a diocese comprised of 34 churches across the entire state of Montana.

“It’ll be a lot of driving,” quipped Rev. Stebbins. “We already use technology for conferencing, email and social media to stay connected. In the Christian denomination we really are about physical presence so I’ll be doing lots of traveling.”

Rev. Stebbins said Montana is similar to North Carolina but with different crops and livestock off the roads. She did note one big difference she’s noticed since coming to Big Sky Country.

“You all are polite on the roads,” said Rev. Stebbins. “You stop for pedestrians, you wait patiently when someone is lost at a light. In North Carolina they consider themselves polite on the roads. You all don't use your horns at all."

The ordination on Saturday was overseen by the Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. Most Rev. Curry famously delivered the sermon at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding.

Most Rev. Curry said he has personally seen the work Rev. Stebbins in rural communities and has faith that she will be a force for good at the Diocese. Stebbins spent much of her time as a priest working in rural communities and already feels a kinship with Montana.

“Bishop Stebbins is not a storm the barricades kind of person,” explained Most. Rev. Curry. “She’s the kind of person that is going to go in and listen, learn, and help people think through how can we follow Jesus together here. And how do we do it most effectively so that it really matters? I’ve seen her do it before and she’ll do it again.”