A reader sent me photos of the consecration yesterday of the new bishop of Southern Virginia, Herman Hollerith IV at William and Mary Hall on the College of William and Mary campus in Williamsburg. The Diocese of Southern Virginia is one of three Episcopal dioceses in Virginia, which includes the original Diocese of Virginia currently led by Bishop Peter James Lee.
The Presiding Bishop was wearing her sea breeze vestments that she wore at her installation as the Presiding Bishop in 2006, but what caught my attention was seeing Bishop Peter James Lee.
Not only was he wearing a mitre (which we have seen on rare occasions, very rare) - but he was wearing a cope. In Virginia. He was wearing a cope in Virginia. Now maybe they wear copes in Southern Virginia (that Tidewater area can be tricky on the best of occassions), but to see a Diocese of Virginia bishop wearing a cope - I just can't recall such a thing. He doesn't even look like himself. I have to admit, I am, well, surprised. Someone get Bishop Moore (see photo, no cope) and Bishop Meade (see photo, no cope) on the phone.
Now, I do know that copes and mitres and all kinds of vestments are important to many Episcopalians - I've been gently corrected by a few friends when I called the little purple or red hats I saw at the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury "beanies." I am truly sorry about that. Bishop Ackerman took us through the most fascinating historical instruction lesson at our daily Eucharists in the Undisclosed Location in Canterbury that were truly fascinating and I enjoyed those teaching moments very much.
Bishop Ackerman in a cope, yes. Bishop Iker in a cope, yes. Even Bishop Duncan in a cope, yes (with reservations). Those make sense. But Bishop Lee in a cope? That makes no sense at all. I even looked up Bishop John W. Howe's consecration to see if Bishop Lee wore a cope. Nope. Bishop Lee preached and left his cope in the closet where it belongs.
I guess we can imagine he's worn a cope before - after all, he is an Episcopal bishop. They do like to wear them, especially these days. I just don't recall ever seeing him dressed in one. Theologically, I didn't think it was his cup of tea.
The photos are lovely though and should play well in Richmond - or will they? Please, someone, get Bishop Meade on the phone. One can only imagine what he'd have to say. Perhaps it's time to do a rousing chorus of this song, yet again.
By the way, since we did come across it, here's Bishop Howe's consecration in Orlando. It's filled with an Episcopal who's-who of 1989. There are actually some shots in the audience of yours truly when she was twenty-something, a lifetime ago. Was this really twenty years ago?
UPDATE: Interesting conversation going on in the comments. Order a chai or butterbeer and pull up a chair here.