The Reverend Canon William “Chip” H. Stokes, rector of St. Paul’s Church in Delray Beach, Florida, has been elected as the twelfth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey, pending the ratification of his election by a majority of bishops in the Episcopal Church.
Stokes, 56, was selected today, from a field of nine nominees. He was elected on the fifth ballot at an election convention at Trinity Cathedral in Trenton.
“I am humbled beyond expression and deeply honored to have been elected as the twelfth Bishop of New Jersey,” Stokes said in a prepared statement. “I am grateful to the people of the diocese for their confidence, support and prayers. I am grateful above all to God in Christ who has called me and walked with me throughout my journey.”
Stokes said the diversity of the Diocese of New Jersey is one of its great strengths.
“The Diocese of New Jersey is a part of the deep history of the Episcopal Church. It is an overwhelming thing to be brought into that history through this election. The Diocese is made up of a rich and wonderful variety of people,” he said. “The people of the diocese understand well the very real challenges that face the church today. My experience of the clergy and lay people of the diocese is that that they are faithful, hopeful and up to any challenges as we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us `right onward.’ I look forward to getting to know them and to journeying with them hand in hand as we all respond to God’s call to us to love and serve one another, the communities in which we are placed and the wider church and world.”
Stokes has served as the rector of St Paul’s since January of 1999. From 1995 to 1998, he was the associate for Christian Education at the Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida. He previously served as the school chaplain and curate of Grace Episcopal Church and Day School in Massapequa, Long Island from 1990 to 1994. He has served on numerous board and committees, including serving as dean of the South Palm Beach Deanery, a member of the executive board of the Diocese of Southeast Florida, and as chairman and member of the Board of Episcopal Charities of Southeast Florida.
He has been an active leader in anti-racism work and has served as a certified anti-racism trainer for The Episcopal Church as a member of the Episcopal Church Executive Council’s Anti-Racism Committee, as well as the anti-racism committee of The Diocese of Southeast Florida. He is currently a member of The Episcopal Church’s standing commission on Anglican and International Peace with Justice Concerns.
Stokes, who is recognized as a dynamic preacher and teacher, graduated from the General Theological Seminary in 1990 and received the Seymour Prize for best extemporaneous preaching and the Bishop of Newark preaching prize. He is married to Susan and they have four children, and two grandchildren.
Pending a successful ratification process by the bishops, his ordination is scheduled for November 2. He will replace Bishop George Councell, who is retiring in November after serving as the bishop of the diocese for a decade.