It's Sunday morning communion in the fourth oldest Episcopal church in the state of Texas. For eleven years, the Reverend Gary Hill has led the sacred ceremony at Christ Episcopal. If elected as the ninth Bishop of the Texas Diocese his leadership role will change. For now he's dealing with the emotions of just being nominated. He lists them as, " Humbled, shocked, mortified." and how does he deal with those emotions? He answers, "Pray."
A good response for a man who could oversee 156 Episcopal churches in Texas. He didn't ask for the nomination, but rather earned it. . Parishioner Sandra Raney notes, " He has solved many problems, heartaches, put two sides back together. He's just been a real leader and a real shepherd. " Longtime member and friend, Norman Johnson said, " I don't know of anybody that is more scholarly in the Bible than Gary is and he loves theology and he love people. He's a good people person. "
In the Episcopal church there are 7,000 priests. Only about 200 become bishops. The rare opportunity requires intensive interviews and questionnaires. The topics range from management styles to same-sex unions. Hill said, " I sat down and I said, 'Lord, what is the answer?', and I prayed through every word that I wrote, so I believe what I wrote came from the Lord. "
Hill is pleased the election isn't too political, but knows that will come to pass. Being bishop is a politically charged position. In the meantime, the priest with a sense of humor is enjoying the ride. " When you are a nominee, the Diocese takes you all over the state of Texas and puts you up in the hotels that you wouldn't believe and takes you to restaurants that are second to none. Five star. This has been a fun experience, " said Hill.