Roanoke, Va. The search for a new bishop in the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia concluded with the naming of the Very Rev. Mark Allen Bourlakas as Bishop-elect.
Bourlakas, 49, is currently dean at Christ Church Cathedral in Louisville, Ky. and has served in churches in Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. He holds a bachelor’s degree in art from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., a master of divinity from Seabury Western Theological Seminary in Illinois and a doctor of ministry from the School of Theology at the University of the South. He and his wife, Martha, have three daughters.
The Special Electing Council for the Sixth Bishop of Southwestern Virginia convened at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Roanoke, and the election process was conducted in the context of the Holy Eucharist. The Council, made up of clergy and laypersons, voted among five nominees for bishop, from dioceses in Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, New Zealand and Virginia. A majority of both the laity and the clergy was reached after three ballots.
Following the election, the canonical consent process begins. As long as majority consent is reached among bishops and standing committees within 120 days, Rev. Bourlakas will be consecrated as bishop on July 19 in the Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre. The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, will preside at the service.
The Diocese of Southwestern Virginia includes 56 parishes and more than 6,000 households in southwest and central Virginia. It split from the Diocese of Southern Virginia in 1919 and has been guided by five bishops since then. The first, Robert Carter Jett, was elected in December 1919 in the same place as this year’s election, St. John’s, Roanoke. The Right Rev. Neff Powell, the diocese’s fifth bishop, retires after more than 16 years as bishop.