Canon for Strategic Change
Dioceses of Northwestern Pennsylvania & Western New York
Senior Vice President for Strategic Change
Episcopal Church Building Fund
Dear South Carolinians,
Thank you for the invitation to discern with you. I am deeply honored to be among those you are considering to serve as the next Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina.
As our conversation together has unfolded, I have become more and more drawn to you. Your vision, your history, your resilience, your clarity of purpose, and your eagerness to share the gospel in a rapidly changing context all draw me toward you.
My roots in South Carolina go back three generations. My paternal grandmother grew up in Charleston. Her father immigrated to South Carolina as a young man, found work, met his wife, and began a family there. When I’ve had opportunities to travel to South Carolina, I’ve experienced a sense of both longing and belonging. The estuaries, the architecture, the moisture, the old trees—these compel me in familiar ways.
I grew up in Mississippi, with climate, people, landscape, and hard history that bears some resemblance to yours. Growing up in the Deep South, where I saw people subjugate and silence others on the basis of their identities, forged a passion in me to focus on the work of justice. And, God has led me to three additional areas of focus over the arc of my ministry: conflict transformation, building the future church, and mentoring clergy and lay leaders. I’ve had seasons of ministry in several regions of the country, including in Colorado. While I’ve loved living here, I am ready to return to my roots.
I’ve served as rector of a parish, canon on two bishops’ staffs, and in church-wide ministry focused on stewardship of finances and property. From my present vantage point, working with many dioceses, I see a hopeful future for the gospel of Jesus Christ as we learn to engage effectively the needs of the world, to live the gospel with conviction, and to communicate it with vigor.
I’ve been mentored well, including by some wise bishops in the church. From them, I have seen up close, over time, what being a faithful, loving, courageous bishop entails. I’ve worked with dioceses experiencing conflict and schism and comprehend the scope and magnitude of the challenges ahead. I understand the ministry of a bishop to be humble and holy work, joyful and collective work we do together on behalf of Jesus.
I long to use the gifts and experience God has given me to serve and love a people who are eager to share the gospel in a world crying for justice, healing, and hope. I see you poised to lead from the heart of the gospel in a demanding yet compelling new season of ministry.
Should the Spirit call us together, I am prepared to give my all to you, joyfully, and to walk alongside you into a bright future where God invites us to bring our very best.
You are daily in my prayers as we listen together with curious, open hearts for God’s guidance.
As part of process of electing the XV Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, in-depth interviews were conducted with the five candidates on the slate. Veteran newspaper journalist, Elsa McDowell (who also served on the Bishop Search Committee) conducted the interviews, asking each candidate the same six questions, which were provided in advance.
The Reverend Canon Ruth Woodliff-Stanley was asked to introduce herself to the diocese in a short video and answer the following question: "Why do you feel called to serve in the Diocese of South Carolina as Bishop?” Click the video to hear what she has to say to the diocese.