The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh takes great joy in presenting its preliminary slate of four priests who will stand for election in April to become the next Bishop of Pittsburgh.

The slate is preliminary because the diocese now enters a short period during which names may be added to the ballot by petition.

The preliminary slate was unanimously recommended by the Nominating Committee and unanimously accepted by the Standing Committee.  The candidates, in alphabetical order, are:

The Rev. Canon Michael N. Ambler, Jr.
Rector of Grace Episcopal Church
Bath, Maine
Click here for brief biography

The Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell
Rector of Church of the Redeemer
Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Click here for brief biography

The Rev. R. Stanley Runnels
Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Kansas City, Missouri
Click here for brief biography

The Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley
Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church
Denver, Colorado
Click here for brief biography

The four were selected from an initial field of 125 names submitted to the Nominating Committee last year.  Of those, 62 agreed to enter the discernment process.  The committee then narrowed the selection over the course of several months through a review of submitted documents, telephone interviews and face-to-face meetings.

"The Nominating Committee involved itself in a prayerful and intense scrutiny of all the candidates.  We then carefully listened and discussed with them whom they chose and how they went about doing so.  We are all in agreement about this slate and that the committee did an extraordinary job," said the Very Rev. George L. W. Werner, speaking on behalf of the Standing Committee as its president.

An account of how the Nomination Committee went about its work can be found on the web site of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh by clicking here.

Several priests from the Pittsburgh Diocese decided before the nomination process began that they did not have a calling at this time to the ministry of bishop and would not allow their names to be submitted.  For others, that discernment became clearer later on in the search process.

"Each and every candidate that came before us, whether from inside our diocese or from elsewhere, was viewed through the same lens," said Dana Phillips, the chair of the Nominating Committee.  "We applied the same criteria to all, namely the qualifications set forth in the 'Our Search' section of the Profile."  

The Profile is available at

The Petition Process

As is customary for elections in the Episcopal Church, the search now moves into a second phase, a three-week period in which the diocese will be asked whether other names need to be added to the ballot.  A mode of nomination by petition is provided for if a significant number of clergy and laity of the diocese feel the ballot could be meaningfully enhanced by including an additional candidate who also meets the criteria of the Profile.

"A petition should come after a prayerful discernment about the preliminary slate and as a way to strengthen the slate," advises Dean Werner.

A nomination by petition requires ten signatures from individuals representing at least three parishes.  Four of those signing must be canonically resident clergy, and of the six lay communicants in good standing in parishes of the diocese, three must be deputies to the Diocesan Convention.  The petition must also include the consent signature of the person being nominated.

Following the close of the petition period on February 5, 2012, anyone nominated through this process will be asked to complete the same materials and undergo the background checks as required of the preliminary slate candidates.  Assuming a successful completion, those nominated by petition will also be included on the ballot.   

The final slate is scheduled to be announced on March 1, 2012.  At that time, the diocese will publish a detailed set of biographic and background materials for the entire slate. 

Pre-Election Visits

All candidates on the final slate are scheduled to visit the diocese and answer questions in a series of public forums known as "walk-abouts."   These are scheduled to take place from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on:

  • Tuesday, March 20, 2012 – St. Brendan's, Franklin Park (Dist. 1)
  • Wednesday, March 21, 2012 – St. Peter's, Brentwood (Dist. 3)
  • Thursday, March 22, 2012 – Holy Cross, Homewood (Dist. 2)
  • Friday, March 23, 2012 – St. Michael's of the Valley, Ligonier (Dist. 4)

Additional Information

The 8th Bishop of Pittsburgh will be elected at a Special Convention of the diocese to be held at Trinity Cathedral on Saturday, April 21, 2012.   

Because the election will occur close in time to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in July 2012, church canons provide for the required consents to be given by the bishops and deputies at General Convention. Subject to that, the bishop-elect will be consecrated at a ceremony at Calvary Episcopal Church on October 20, 2012.  

The new bishop will be called to lead a fellowship of vibrant communities united in Christ, who proclaim Him as Lord and Savior.  All are welcome in our congregations regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey.

For more information about the search process, visit the Bishop Search section of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh website,

click here

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