The Rt. Rev. Martha “Marty” Stebbins, alumna and friend of Seminary of the Southwest, was ordained and consecrated as Bishop of Montana on December 7. The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, served as the chief consecrator at the ceremony at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Helena, Montana. She is the tenth Bishop of the Diocese and will oversee 34 churches across Montana.
During the ordination, Bishop Curry announced that Bishop Stebbins is the 100th woman to be ordained a bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion and the first woman bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Montana. The first Anglican woman bishop was Barbara Harris, elected and consecrated in 1989. Women have since thrived in the Episcopal church, and Bishop Stebbins is joining a long line of powerful woman bishops.
“One of the great honors of my life was participating in the election and consecration of the first woman Bishop in The Episcopal Church, Barbara C. Harris,” said the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, dean and president of Seminary of the Southwest. “To then be present at the consecration of the 100th woman bishop, Marty Stebbins, Seminary of the Southwest graduate and wonderful colleague, was thrilling and made me keenly aware of the momentous positive changes in the church over the past thirty years.”
Bishop Stebbins earned her Master of Divinity degree from Seminary of the Southwest in 2005. She went on to serve at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Wilson, North Carolina, for over nine years. She was elected Bishop of Montana on July 26 of this year by a special convention in Bozeman.
Before attending Seminary of the Southwest, Bishop Stebbins earned a doctorate in veterinary bacteriology and served as an adjunct professor at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. To honor her love of animals, the opening hymn of “Earth and All Stars” included two additional stanzas encouraging the “fish of the sea, loud cawing blue jays, lizards and snakes” to “sing to the Lord a new song!”
The Magpie Singers of the Helena-area Native American congregation played a song and the Rev. Jane Rogers Wilson of the Church of Our Savior in Rock Hill, South Carolina, preached at the ordination.
“What a thrill to be able to be with the people of the diocese of Montana and with all the friends from North Carolina gathered in Helena to celebrate Marty’s consecration!” said Dean Kittredge. “A grounded and gifted student, Marty has honed her leadership over many years. We are very proud, and we rejoice with the whole church.”
Bishop Stebbins lives with her husband, Bob Gruidier, a dog named Cal, and a cat named Ruger in their new home in Helena, Montana.