Wm. H. Odenheimer, Bishop of New Jersey, was asked to preach at Arthur Cleveland Coxe’s consecration as “Assistant Bishop” of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, in 1865 (Coxe is officially listed in The Church Annual as having been consecrated as Coadjutor; that same year he became the Ordinary).
Here, in 1865, less than half-way to the current length of existence of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and at an extremely troublesome and tragic time in the life of the USA, the ministry and order of Bishop is clearly articulated both in an understanding of the larger Body of Christ as well as the more provincial meaning.
It should be instructive – without attempting to redefine the terms and theology of Bishop Odenheimer – to our day, and our time.
Here is an excerpt including Bp Odenheimer’s “charge” to Bp Coxe:
“…your Mother the Church welcomes her faithful son to the highest Ministry, in joyful anticipation of the good work for Christ yet to be done. That work is the uncompromising preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom, in all the fulness of its original revelation. CHRIST CRUCIFIED is your theme–the same changeless Gospel, which Priest, and Deacon, and layman must proclaim, according to their several functions. Not to be called of men “Rabbi, Rabbi,” not for the paltry [17/18] trappings of office, do you look forward to the dignity now to be conferred, but as it is indeed, to a dignity giving authority to do harder work for Christ and His Church.
A brother in sacred song as well as in Pastoral efficiency, with Presbyters like Herbert, Keble, and Croswell; be still a brother in that heavenly gift as well as in Episcopal Authority, as you take your seat with Ambrose, Gregory Nazianzen, Ken and Doane. Win souls to Jesus by every power that God has given you, and through every avenue that He has opened to the hearts of man.
The bearer of an honored name, you will to-day consecrate anew to the Triune God the treasures of your intellect and heart, in all their varied richness, and pour them out afresh at the foot of the Cross. For the hill of Ecclesiastical eminence like Calvary of old, is crowned with THE CROSS; and they who, in God’s providence, ascend through the grades of the Christian Ministry to the highest point of Churchly authority, will find themselves lifted up, not for self exaltation but for self crucifixion. “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you”–these words embrace, within their mysterious scope, suffering and sacrifice, as well as authority and dignity. A Bishop’s true crozier is the Cross; his Mitre the crown of thorns: his Ring the stigmata of self sacrifice; and his message of peace and good will the end as well as the beginning of his Holy Ministry.”