The Rev. Kevin Brown has packed a lot into his 48 years.
So far: he studied psychology and math in college; served five years in the Air Force; got a master’s degree in business administration; worked in finance and marketing at FedEx; launched an investment firm; received his Master’s of Divinity degree; and served as a rector in Tennessee and, since 2010, at Charlotte’s Holy Comforter Episcopal Church.
And now there’s more. Last Saturday, Brown found out he’d been elected the new Episcopal bishop in Delaware.
He emailed the news to his Charlotte congregation just hours after he found out. “I hope you will join me in taking a deep breath and, once again, calling on the Holy Spirit to guide us forward,” he wrote, adding that this next stop on his winding path “is, as you might imagine, a calling both inspiring and humbling.”
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Brown was nominated by a friend in North Carolina who had long thought he’d make a good bishop. For a while, he told her no.
But then the 10th bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware announced last year he’d be stepping down. This time, “it interested me,” Brown said. “I began to study their profile and to pray.”
Brown, who grew up in Asheville, was one of more than 50 candidates to head the diocese, which covers the whole state of Delaware and has a flock of 9,300 communicants attending 34 parishes.
After months of filling out forms, answering essay questions, doing interviews, and holding town hall meetings with the clergy and lay voters in Delaware, Brown was chosen on the fifth ballot last weekend.
Steve Boyden, a retired business executive who co-chaired the bishop search committee, said Brown matched up well with what the Delaware diocese was looking for.
“Kevin is dynamic, he’s deeply spiritual, he has a wonderful sense of humor, he’s a great preacher, and has a fantastic style of liturgy,” Boyden said.
It’s still unclear when Brown will leave Charlotte for Wilmington, Del., where he’ll be based. One date is set: He’ll be consecrated Delaware’s 11th Episcopal bishop on Dec. 9.
Brown said his business and military experience will serve him well as he takes on a bishop’s executive and administrative duties.
But the post, he said, will also call on him to be a leader in setting a vision for the diocese and energizing people toward that goal. The bishop must also be an apostle, he said, a visible sign of the unity of the church.
As excited as he is at this new challenge, Brown said he will miss Holy Comforter, the Episcopal church on Park Road that is spiritual home to about 1,000 people – nearly 20 percent of whom are Spanish-speaking.
After seven years as rector, he said he’s proud of what the church has accomplished in reaching out to the community.
He mentioned Holy Comforter’s bilingual pre-school, its Sunday Spanish-language service, and a new Lenten tradition called “Common Morning/Common Prayer.”
“Every day during Lent – except on Sundays – we offer a modified version of our Morning Prayer in coffee shops and bakeries across the city,” Brown said. “When you take it out in the public square, that broadens our view of prayer and the community’s view of the church”
Brown said he and wife Caroline and their two daughters, now in college, have also enjoyed Charlotte’s energy, optimism and “can-do attitude.”
As he becomes a bishop in the Episcopal Church, he sees “a hunger for renewal and new birth” in the liberal denomination, where he and other clergy have welcomed change by, for example, presiding over same-sex weddings.
“After years of figuring out these contentious issues, when we were faced inward,” he said, “we are ready to be more outward-focused and remember our roots in bringing the hope and peace of Jesus Christ to a hurting world.”