30 April 2015 A.D. ELIZABETH CITY, NC: David Bane Restored as Episcopal Bishop
Kelly-Goss, Robert. “Homeward Bound: History in the making Monday as David Bane is restored as Episcopal bishop.” 25 Apr 2015. http://virtueonline.org/homeward-bound-history-making-monday-david-bane-restored-episcopal-bishop. Accessed 29 Apr 2015.
Homeward Bound: History in the making Monday as David Bane is restored as Episcopal bishop
By Robert Kelly-Goss
April 25, 2015
On Monday, Bishop David Bane will return home.
Bane, an Episcopal bishop who left the Episcopal Church of the United States for the Anglican Church in America back in 2009, will make history Monday night. He will be the first bishop in the church's long history to be officially reinstated as an Episcopal bishop after leaving his ordination for another church.
The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, Katherine Jefferts Schori, will perform what is being termed "a reconciliation." Not only will it be the first time in the church's history that a bishop is reinstated, says Bane, it will also be the first time the national presiding bishop of one of this country's oldest churches comes to Elizabeth City.
Bane and his wife Alice moved to Elizabeth City back in 2006 after he retired as the bishop of southern Virginia. Their daughters lived here, along with their children, and the Banes saw it as an opportunity to be near family.
"When I was still bishop up there (Virginia), my wife Alice is a special fundraising consultant and she was the point person for the Benjamin House," said Bane.
That fact had already brought the retired bishop and his wife close to the Elizabeth City community. Relocating here was a natural decision.
But back around 2007 some members of Christ Episcopal Church had made a decision to split from the Episcopal Church and join the newly formed Anglican Church in America. It was a decision based on differences in doctrine and scriptural interpretations.
In 2009, as a retired bishop, an old friend, a bishop who had joined the Anglican Church, had approached Bane and asked him to consider joining the newly formed church.
"I wasn't ready to go to a rocking chair yet, I was 64," said Bane of his decision to join the Anglicans. "I got invited by the archbishop of the Anglican Church in America, they said they needed help."
Bane worked with the Anglican Church of the Redeemer in Camden County. Made up of former parishioners from Christ Episcopal Church, and currently led by the rector, The Rev. Craig Stephans, Bane says he made good friends there, and enjoyed working with Stephans, a man he is happy to call friend.
"I love Craig Stephans and the folks at Redeemer," said Bane. "They are still dear friends."
But Bane had realized, he explained, that the Episcopal Church is his home, and he was ready to return to it. It is a decision that has roots in his decision to become a priest in the first place.
Bane, the son of an Episcopal priest, had grown up in the church. But going away to college, and then joining the Air Force, he drifted from the faith of his youth.
He would eventually earn an MBA and become a businessman. But something, he recalls, was missing in his life. There seemed to be a hole he could not fill.
He and Alice would attend church now and again. He maintained a casual relationship with his faith until one day he realized what was missing in his life.
At 40 years old, Bane told Alice that he wanted to attend seminary and become an ordained Episcopal priest. It was a decision that would mean sacrifice for a family with four children.
Financially, it looked like an impossibility. But as Bane looks back on it, he says he understands that if this was a "God thing," they could do it.
And as soon as Bane had figured out that going to seminary was the right thing to do, that hole, that feeling that something is missing in his life, it all went away.
"It was an incredible time," recalls Bane. "It was dicey financially, but it worked out."
Bane would become a priest working with three different churches before becoming a bishop. As a bishop in southern Virginia, he worked with 125 churches in his diocese. As a retired bishop, he was not paid to work in the church, but maintained an active role, working with the church wherever he was needed.
When he left the Episcopal Church for the Anglican Church, Bane gave up his role as a retired Episcopal bishop. So when he expressed a desire to return, he says there was no precedence for restoring a bishop. He spoke with Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and while she and the church were willing to take Bane back, there was no process in place for such a request.
It took over a year to figure out just how to handle his request. And then the decision to restore his ordination was made by Jefferts Schori.
"The first thing that hit me when the presiding bishop said I am going to restore your ordination, the first thing I felt was a sense of belonging again," said Bane.
So Monday evening, Bane will officially be restored as an Episcopal bishop. There will be a liturgy read that he wrote for the service. Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori will make a statement, and Bane will sign the Oath of Good Formity. It is the same oath he signed when he was ordained as bishop the first time around.
He will don a bishop's robe and miter, the pointed hat commonly associated with the church office. And from that point forward, Bane will be known as an Episcopal bishop, albeit a retired bishop.
The service will be attended by a number of community members outside of the church itself. Several area church choirs will sing, and clergy members from area churches will also be on hand.
And Bane will return to his work in the church as a retired clergy. While he will not be paid, Bane will still help at the parish, and fill in as priest wherever he is needed, at home, where Bane says he belongs.
The service to restore Bishop David Bane will take place at 7 p.m., Monday, at Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Elizabeth City.