Bishop Anthony Burton
Bishop Anthony Burton, who has served the diocese of Saskatchewan for 15 years as its bishop and two as its dean, announced on April 20 that he will be taking up a new post as rector of the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas.
Bishop Burton, who is 48, wrote to the churches in his diocese that his resignation as bishop of Saskatchewan is effective September 1, 2008, when he will begin his new ministry in Texas.
“Our sense of call to Texas is a positive one but at the same time I felt that it would be an opportunity for the diocese to be overseen with a fresh pair of eyes and to enjoy the excitement and momentum a change of bishop brings,” he wrote.
In an interview, Bishop Burton said the Dallas church contacted him as it searched for a new rector and “it seemed like God’s good time.” Bishop Burton had previously been considered for a post in the Episcopal Church in 2004, when he was a candidate in the diocese of San Diego’s episcopal election.
At his election in 1993, he was (at age 33) the youngest bishop in the Anglican Communion. “My rule of thumb for a good term is seven to 12 years, and we’ve been here 15,” he said. The diocese is experiencing change in two episcopal positions, as suffragan (assistant) bishop Charles Arthurson is retiring this year. Bishop Burton said he expected an episcopal election would be held in the fall.
“The diocese of Saskatchewan has a great future ahead of it. It is a lovely diocese and people are very kind to the bishop. We’ve been extremely happy here,” he commented. In his letter, he wrote that the diocese “is well known for the singular spirit of co-operation, good will, and thoughtfulness (it brings) to the challenges of the day.”
Church of the Incarnation is a large Episcopal Church parish, with average Sunday attendance of about 1,000, said Bishop Burton. It has six Sunday eucharist services.
“It’s a wonderful church, just north of downtown – a fascinating area. Seven of the eight high schools receive special federal funding because of the poverty in the area. The parish culture is one where everybody is encouraged to roll up their sleeves. They build one house per year with Habitat for Humanity; they sent teams to New Orleans to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. They have countless mission trips,” he said.
According to a report posted on the church’s Web site, written by interim rector Philip Turner, challenges at Church of the Incarnation include a “need for a more coherent vision of who and what we are … how well we communicate one with another and how well we co-operate.” He also identified a “need to get our story out” into the city and improvement in incorporating new members.
A comment posted on www.standfirminfaith, a Web site representing “Traditional Anglicanism in America,” said the announcement of the new rector’s name caused a stir at one of last Sunday’s services. “By the time the name Bishop Burton was announced a mild buzz settled across the church and when the senior warden concluded his remarks the buzz turned to applause. Had this been anything other than a most reserved Anglican parish, there would have been a standing O and a few cartwheels,” said the comment by “JH Graves.”
The diocese of Dallas, under Bishop James Stanton, has a generally theologically conservative profile, but has not moved to leave the Episcopal Church and does ordain women, unlike the neighboring diocese of Fort Worth led by the extremely conservative bishop, Jack Iker.
Bishop Burton and his wife, Anna, have two children, Caroline (13) and Peter (10).
Bishop Burton grew up in Ottawa and studied at the University of Toronto, Dalhousie University and Oxford University. He served parishes in Nova Scotia before moving to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where the diocese is located.