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In Hartford, Desmond Tutu Gives Sermon For Episcopal Bishop's Ordination And Consecration



April 17, 2010

HARTFORD Ian Douglas, most recently a parish priest in Massachusetts, was ordained and consecrated in Hartford Saturday as the 15th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

The ceremony in Hartford featured a sermon by Desmond Tutu, the Anglican archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, and drew bishops from across the country and world.

More than 2,000 people attended the consecration and Eucharist at the Koeppel Community Sports Center at Trinity College.

Tutu, who helped lead opposition to apartheid in South Africa and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, delivered a passionate but humorous sermon about the importance of unity.

"We don't choose who is going to be my brother or my sister though I wish I could," he told the audience. "They are God's gift to me, as I am God's gift to them."

Tutu, who spoke with his eyes closed and arms outstretched, urged the audience to embrace everyone, including tea party activists, Democrats, Republicans, gays and lesbians and George Bush, a name that drew a booming belly laugh.

He spoke directly to Douglas.

"Ian, please tell the children of God each one of them is precious," he said. "Each one of them is held in this cosmic embrace."

Afterward, Douglas knelt before Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the Episcopal Church's presiding bishop. The other bishops gathered around Douglas, laying their hands over his head in prayer.

Douglas then donned his vestments, including an Episcopal ring, stole and cope, and held back tears as he spoke.

"The only thing I can say is that I am humbled and I am honored to be your bishop," he said. "Now, it begins."

Douglas, 51, a married father of three, grew up in an economically depressed mill town in central Massachusetts. He served for the last 20 years as an associate priest at St. James's Episcopal Church in Cambridge and taught mission and world Christianity at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. He also served as a missionary in Haiti in 1983-1984.

After his consecration, Douglas led the Mass, speaking in English, Spanish and Creole.

Moureen Bish, of Hartford, said she was pleasantly surprised by Douglas' ability to speak Creole. She said she saw Tutu's message of unity reflected in the diversity of the crowd, which included worshippers from Latino and Haitian congregations.

She said she looked forward to welcoming Douglas at her church, St. Martin's Episcopal.

"We'll be supportive of him so he can have a successful term as our bishop," she said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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