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Episcopal bishop to retire after 20 years in role

CHARLESTON — The leader of the state’s Episcopal Diocese has announced his retirement.

W. Michie Klusmeyer, 65, will retire as bishop of the Diocese of West Virginia as of Oct. 13, 2022. He was consecrated as the seventh Bishop of West Virginia on Oct. 22, 2001.

“I have experienced God in the faces and voices of the people of the Diocese,” Klusmeyer said in making the announcement. “Each time I stand at the altar, celebrate Eucharist with the people, drive through this beautiful state of West Virginia, I see God’s presence.”

He retires after 20 years as bishop and 40 years as a priest.

During Klusmeyer’s tenure, the Episcopal Church has responded to severe flooding needs, was the first church to be called to carry Narcan in its parishes and sponsored numerous coaching and recovery programs to help those suffering from addiction. The most important work has been as an advocate for equality and justice, he said.

Klusmeyer in 2002 commissioned a committee in the Church to work on racism and diversity. Presently, the Church is working to fulfill obligations under the Seven Steps to Justice pledge.

During the 2019 legislative session, Klusmeyer invited Ibtesam Barazi, vice president of the state’s Islamic Association, and Rabbi Victor Urecki, B’ani Jacob, to join him in opening a morning session of the West Virginia House of Delegates. There, they prayed together for understanding, unity and peace. The three have spent countless hours working on behalf of refugees and to end racism.

Klusmeyer also led the church to serve the needy in various counties. Two examples are a mobile health clinic, based in Lewisburg and the Highland Educational Project serving McDowell County. The mobile clinic was built with guidance from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

Most recently, it was dispensed to provide support to the Greenbrier County Health Department for COVID-19 testing. The project focuses on mission groups, education, home improvements, senior services, recovery, and children and families. Presently, it is serving youth through a camp-in-a-box program and working with several education-based programs.

“Bishop Klusmeyer has been a good and faithful shepherd of the Episcopal Diocese of our state,” said Father Paul Hicks, president of the Diocesan Standing Committee. “His love of God, people, and humor, are evident in all aspects of his life and service. We are thankful for him and offer our prayers of thanksgiving and ask that God’s blessings be upon him.”

The Diocese is searching for a successor by selecting a Bishop Coadjutor. A committee will announce the slate of candidates on Aug. 2.

Candidates will visit the state in late August. In September, the coadjutor will be elected at the Diocesan state convention. That person will become the eighth Bishop upon Klusmeyer’s retirement.

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