CHICAGO (RNS) — The Episcopal Diocese of Chicago has postponed the consecration and ordination of the Rev. Canon Paula E. Clark, the first Black bishop and the first woman chosen to lead the diocese, after Clark suffered a brain bleed in April.
Clark was elected bishop in December and scheduled to be consecrated on April 24.
Her consecration was pushed back to June 12, then to Aug. 28, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry announced Friday (May 21) in a video message to the Diocese of Chicago.
“The reason for this is that it will provide a bit more space and time for Bishop-elect Clark to continue her work and her healing, her occupational and physical therapy, and to do all the things necessary so that she can assume the duties of the thirteenth bishop of the Diocese of Chicago,” said Curry, who is set to preside at the consecration and ordination.
The presiding bishop’s announcement came after he said he consulted with both Clark and the Rev. Anne B. Jolly, president of the Standing Committee that is overseeing the Diocese of Chicago.
They have “every expectation” Clark will be able to serve as bishop, he said.
Curry, too, had suffered a subdural hematoma that led to a significant bleed in his brain shortly after his consecration as presiding bishop in 2015, he said.
He shared his own recovery, which included surgery as well as physical and occupational therapy for about three months afterward. It took him about a month and a half to write his own name, he noted.
The delay will allow Clark to assume her role as bishop in “the healthiest and most wholesome way,” he said.
A native of Washington, D.C., she previously served as canon to the ordinary and chief of staff in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. She pursued the priesthood after the death of her mother, who did not approve of women’s ordination.
After her election in December, Clark told the Diocese of Chicago, “You have really captured my heart.”
The diocese includes 122 congregations and more than 31,000 members in northern, central and southwestern Illinois.
“I am grateful for the leadership and grace embodied by our presiding bishop and our bishop-elect,” Jolly said in a statement posted online Friday.
“Everyone continues to be amazed by Paula’s recovery to date, and we believe that this time will allow her to serve as the vibrant, brilliant, and faithful bishop we know she will be.”