The departure of Bishop Suffragan Diane M. Jardine Bruce to become bishop provisional of the Diocese of West Missouri – pending its convention vote in early November – left Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor with a dilemma: How to make sure that each congregation in the Diocese of Los Angeles is able to welcome an episcopal visitation at least once every three years, in accordance with church canons – and ideally more often.
On Sept. 29, Taylor announced the solution: Three distinguished retired bishops of the church will visit congregations of the diocese in the coming year – the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and former bishop of the Diocese of Nevada; the Rt. Rev. Edward S. Little, seventh bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana; and the Rt. Rev. C. Franklin Brookhart, ninth bishop of the Diocese of Montana. Among them, they are expected to fill most of the newly vacant assignments.
The Rt. Rev. Chet Talton, sixth bishop suffragan of Los Angeles, who celebrated his 80th birthday last week, looks forward to returning to the episcopal rota soon, Taylor said.
“Bishops Jefferts Schori, Little and Brookhart will bring to our congregations a wide range of experience that will make for rich conversations and new points of view,” said Taylor when announcing the arrangements. “I’m grateful to all of them for stepping up to help fill the considerable void that Bishop Bruce will leave when she takes up her new ministry in West Missouri.”
The three bishops will visit congregations on Taylor’s behalf to celebrate, preach and offer confirmation, reception and renewal of baptismal vows. There are no plans at this time to call for the election of a bishop suffragan, or to add assisting bishops to the diocesan staff, Taylor said.
C. Franklin Brookhart, Jr. retired in 2018 after 15 years as ninth bishop of the Diocese of Montana. He began visiting congregations in the Diocese of Los Angeles in early 2020, but his schedule was interrupted by the COVID quarantine.
Born in West Virginia and raised in West Virginia and Ohio, Brookhart graduated from Ohio’s Wittenberg University and attended divinity school at Vanderbilt University. He received his master of divinity degree from Lutheran Theological Seminary; his doctorate in homiletics was conferred by United Theological Seminary.
Before his election as bishop of Montana, he was a parish priest in West Virginia, where he also was the bishop’s deputy for ecumenism. He helped to prepare the “Call to Common Mission” statement that established full communion between the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
During his tenure as bishop, Brookhart was actively involved with community service organizations and served as adjunct faculty for United Theological Seminary (Methodist) and Wheeling Jesuit University. He continued his ecumenical work as co-chair of the United Methodist-Episcopal Bilateral Dialogue and as a member of the General Convention legislative committee and Episcopal Church standing committee on ecumenical and interreligious relations.
Brookhart is the author of Living the Resurrection: Reflections After Easter; Journey with Jesus: Encountering Christ in his Birth, Baptism, Death and Resurrection; The Language of Love: A Basic Christian Vocabulary; and, most recently, Washing and Well-Fed: How the Sacraments Change Everything.
He and his wife, Susan Moyer Brookhart, a private educational consultant, now live in Los Angeles. They have two adult daughters.
Ed Little returned recently to Los Angeles, where he earned his bachelor’s degree from USC and later served as vicar and first rector of St. Joseph’s Church, Buena Park. He was rector of All Saints Church, Bakersfield, when he was elected as bishop of the Diocese of Northern Indiana in 1999.
A native of New York City, Little earned his master of divinity degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. He was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood in 1971 in the Diocese of Chicago. During his episcopate he focused on congregational development, helping the mostly small churches of his diocese to expand their ministries by addressing needs in their communities. His efforts also resulted in a thriving Spanish-language ministry as the Latino population of the area grew.
Little was recently married to Claudia Thompson. Between them, their family includes five adult children, eight grandchildren and two happily compatible dogs. They live in Long Beach.
He has written several books, including Ears to Hear: Recognizing and Responding to God’s Call; Joy in Disguise: Meeting Jesus in the Dark Times; and most recently The Heart of a Leader, in which he explores Paul’s second letter to Timothy as “a training manual, a book of encouragement, and an outline of how a leader guides the church,” as he told his publisher, Forward Movement, in a 2020 interview.
Bishop Jefferts Schori
Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected as presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church in 2006 and served until 2015, the first woman in that role and the first to lead a province of the Anglican Communion.
As presiding bishop, Jefferts Schori championed the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, issues of domestic poverty, climate change and care for the earth, and equal inclusion of LGTBQ Episcopalians. She constantly reminded church members that The Episcopal Church is an international body, with 11 dioceses serving 17 nations outside the United States. Her tenure was marked by controversy as some congregations departed the church over issues of sexuality and the rights of women.
Born in Pensacola, Florida, she grew up in Seattle and New Jersey. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Stanford University, and a master of science degree and a Ph.D, both in oceanography, from Oregon State University. She was a research scientist before she discerned a call to ordained ministry. She earned a master of divinity degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific and was ordained in 1994.
She was a priest, university lecturer and hospice chaplain in Oregon before she was elected bishop of Nevada in 2001. Her skills as an instrument-rated pilot were handy as she visited the far-flung congregations in her diocese, which encompasses the entire state.
After her nine-year term as presiding bishop, she served for two years as a visiting bishop in the Diocese of San Diego. She is the author of many articles and books, including The Heartbeat of God: Finding the Sacred in the Middle of Everything (with Joan Chittister); A Wing and a Prayer: A Message of Faith and Hope, and Gathering at God’s Table: The Meaning of Mission in the Feast of the Faith.
Jefferts Schori and her husband, retired mathematician Richard Miles Schori, live in Nevada. Their daughter, Katharine, was a pilot in the USAF for more than 10 years. She and her family live in Oregon.