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Jun 01, 2012 | The Rev. John Bentley

Seconding Speech for Suffragan Nominee the Rev. Beth Fain

Bishop Doyle, Bishop Harrison and Delegates to the 163rd Council, I am the Rev. John Bentley, retired priest serving part time at St. Martin’s, Houston. I second the nomination of the Rev. Beth Fain to be Bishop Suffragan for East Texas. Many of you may not know, but I grew up in Tyler where my father was rector of Christ Church and where my siblings all still live. So I have deep roots in East Texas.


I also have a strong connection with Beth Fain. In 1992, when I was rector of St. Dunstan’s Houston, I hired her as my assistant, a decision made with some trepidation because at the time I still had doubts about women’s ordination, as did many congregations. That was certainly true at St. Dunstan’s. But Beth came highly recommended by Bishop Benitez and I needed an assistant. And I was not disappointed. She proved to be the right woman at the right time. Her pastoral ability, developed during nearly twenty years as a Special Ed Diagnostician and teacher, equipped her to meet the challenge. She overcame resistance to her ministry with her calm demeanor, obvious love of God, and clear desire to serve God’s people. She convinced me, and the people of St. Dunstan’s, that women can be excellent priests.


Perhaps our most adventurous, outside the box, ministry was the Spanish language Eucharist we offered on Sunday evenings. The people who attended were very pleased with Beth’s commitment to provide a service in their native language. With the help of the Revs. Leo Alard and Uriel Osnaya, she even learned to preach in Spanish.


Beth was an invaluable key leader in the development of our Adult Christian Formation Programs for which she then recruited and trained leaders and teachers.


In the years since, she has continued to use her educational skills with the Diocesan Commission on Ministry. Many of you have experienced her understanding and guidance as you answered your call to ordained ministry. Perhaps you also experienced her compassion and pastoral care when you encountered obstacles and stresses.


In her five years with me at St. Dunstan’s, her fifteen years at St. Mary’s, and her work for the Commission on Ministry, Beth has demonstrated skills of leadership, pastoral care, commitment to education and new ministries, and a willingness to serve where God has called her. These are all characteristics that will make Beth a good bishop for the people of East Texas and for the Church.


Finally, Beth’s daughter, Lisa, lives in New York and has written a cookbook entitled The Homesick Texan. I would like to promise everyone who votes for Beth an autographed copy of Lisa’s book, but as Dana Carvey used to say on Saturday Night Live, that “Wouldn’t be prudent!” So instead, what I will promise is that if you choose Beth to be our Bishop Suffragan, you will get an experienced priest who, in twenty years of ordained ministry among us, has demonstrated a maturity of mind and spirit, who loves God and his people, who understands what it takes to be a good priest, is committed to the Episcopal Church, who takes, and gives, direction well, and is a great team player.


So I am pleased to heartily recommend the Rev. Beth Fain to you. I pray that you will elect her Bishop Suffragan for the Diocese of Texas.


- The Rev. John Bentley is the priest associate for pastoral care at St. Martin's, Houston