HARTFORD – He sat at an empty table behind closed doors, put his elbows on the surface and gently clasped his hands together as he re-read his words and prayed over the sermon he had hand-written.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu had careful instructions for Ian T. Douglas, who was about to be consecrated as the bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.
More than 2,000 people were buzzing outside Tutu’s door, eager to see the humanitarian and hear his message, and ready to welcome Douglas as their new leader.
The hum of the crowd quieted as the choir crooned, “I want to Walk as a Child of God,” and hundreds of men and women of the cloth, including Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori, processed through the Koeppel Center at Trinity College to their seats.
Jefferts Schori served as the consecrating bishop and Bishop Michael B. Curry of the Diocese of North Carolina and Bishop Edward S. Little, of the Diocese of Northern Indiana, served as co-consecrators.
Douglas explained that it’s a tradition to have bishops from outside the diocese participate in the consecration.
“As a result, this is not about me, or the Diocese of Connecticut. These three bishops together represent the catholicy of the Episcopal Church, the breadth of the Episcopal Church,” he said.
The theme of the consecration was “unity in diversity,” which Tutu spoke passionately about.
He stood behind the podium and looked at Douglas, who was sitting in the front row.
“A good shepherd will lay down his life for his flock. A good shepherd will go find those who are not a part of the flock,” Tutu, 78, said.
But his message wasn’t about proselytizing. It was about welcoming those who feel unwanted. Tutu’s dream, he said, is to see a unity of peace in God’s creation and a unity in the church of God.
He looked out at the crowd and reminded them that everyone is a part of God’s family.
“You and I are sisters and brothers of one another,” he said. “We, in community, pray to our father. To my father. To our father…They (the people) are God’s gift to me as I am God’s gift to them.”
He told Douglas to embrace all people – black, white, Hispanic, democrat, republic, gay, lesbian, Mulsim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist – and, he joked, embrace the tea party too.
“Ian, God has called you to be bishop. We are all God’s children Ian, please hold the children of God. Each one of them is precious. Each one of them is held in the godly embrace. Each one of them is loved. Hold them. Hold them. Jesus loves them,” he said as he closed his notebook.
Bishops from across the globe laid hands on Douglas and prayed for him before his family presented him with the symbols of the office.
“I am humbled and I am honored to be your bishop,” Douglas said after he was consecrated. “This is our diocese….so now it begins.”
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Here the audio of Tutu's entire sermon here.
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