The Rev. Brian Prior of Spokane, Washington has been elected only the ninth Bishop of of the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota since the 1850’s.  Five diverse nominees each had strong support on the first ballot with vote totals ranging from 71 to 115.  Prior was the leader on the first ballot and received the highest vote totals on each of the five ballots, finally realizing the majority of laity and clergy support as candidates dropped out through succeeding ballots.

In addition to Prior, the other candidates included:

Rev. Marianne Budde of Minneapolis who finished second, Rev. Bonnie Perry of Chicago (a lesbian in a committed relationship), Rev Douglas Sparks of Rochester, Mn, and Rev Doyle Turner of Park Rapids, Mn (a Native American).  The website of the Minnesota Diocese issued the following statement.

Prior has been the Rector of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Spokane, Washington since 1996. Among the manybrian prior photo slight crop boards and committees on which he serves, Rev. Prior is the Vice President of the House of Deputies of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. He received his M.Div. from Church Divinity of the Pacific in Berkeley, California in 1987. Rev. Prior has been married to Staci Hubbard Prior for 21 years. They have two teenage sons.

“I am thrilled to have the privilege of being among the first to welcome Rev. Prior as our new bishop,” says Scott Crow, chair of the Standing Committee, which is charged with overseeing the election. “Our process has been filled with prayer, discernment, and the movement of the Spirit in our midst. It has been a powerful experience to witness the church at work and I look forward to the joyful Ordination and Consecration of our new bishop on February 13, 2010.”

Susan Russell, recent past president of Integrity, USA, the Episcopal LGBT advocacy group, offered her congratulations to Bishop-elect Prior and kudos to the Minnesota Episcopalians for their process.

I believe at this point in the life of the church it is a sign of GREAT good news that a diocese has had the opportunity to choose from a slate of qualified candidates the one they and the Holy Spirit have discerned to be the BEST bishop to lead them into God’s future. A slate that included men and women, gay and straight, Anglo and Native American. This is our Episcopal Church at its best.

The Diocese of Minnesota has elected a new bishop. Let us rejoice and be glad with them!

Current Integrity President, Rev David Norgard, offered similar sentiments:

“What we have seen in the Diocese of Minnesota during these weeks and months of discernment is our church at its best,” said the Reverend David Norgard, President of Integrity. “By including an openly gay, partnered candidate, they have led the Episcopal Church to one step closer to reaching the reality of ‘all the baptized in all the sacraments’ in the Episcopal Church – not just a resolution of General Convention. We owe them our thanks and gratitude for their visionary leadership.”