Friday, October 17, 2014

Requiescat in Pace: The Rt. Rev. Marvil Thomas Shaw III, SSJE

Integrity joins the church in mourning the death of the Right Rev. Marvil Thomas "Tom" Shaw III SSJE, recently retired bishop of Massachusetts.

Born in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1945, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1971 and joined the Society of St. John the Evangelist, an Anglican religious order for clergy and laity, in 1975. He served a term as its leader beginning in 1983.  He was consecrated a bishop in 1994 and assumed the diocesan seat the following year.

Bishop Shaw Visiting St. Paul's: Newburyport in January
PHOTO CREDIT: Ollie Jones (
Used by Creative Commons License.  Some rights reserved
Bishop Shaw's advocacy for the LGBT community is significant.  He came out in 2012 and described his experience as a gay, celibate monk at the 2008 Lambeth Conference (a worldwide gathering of Anglican bishops that was fraught with controversy over the consecration of the Right Rev. Gene Robinson) in the documentary Love Free or Die.

The Rt. Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool, Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles, met Shaw over thirty years ago while a student at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. "He committed himself when he became bishop, that he would make it a priority for LGBT families to feel safe, loved and included before his retirement."

"When I first came into the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts right out of college in 1995, Bishop Shaw was near the beginning of his episcopate. As I got to know this diocese, I was struck by the tone he set-- one of prayer, commitment, public advocacy and proclamation, innovation, discipline. LGBTQ people should remember his early, strong support for HIV/AIDS ministries, of openly gay and lesbian ecclesial leadership, and of marriage equality here in Massachusetts over two decades ago," said the Rev. Cameron Partridge, Co-Convener of TransEpiscopal and Chaplain at Boston University. "His support of transgender equality and leadership is particularly noteworthy, from his quiet support of my ordination process after I came out in 2001, to his public advocacy for trans non-discrimination legislation in MA and at the 2009 and 2012 General Conventions, to his memorable words of welcome at Boston's Trans Day of Remembrance observances from 2010-2013. All of this was so clearly the fruit of his ongoing conversion, of growth into the heart of God to which he always issued an open invitation. For me, that prayerful engagement of transformation -- including the opening of his own heart-- is +Tom's lasting legacy."

"In 2008 Bishop Shaw confirmed me into the Episcopal Church," said Vivian Taylor, executive director of Integrity USA. "His strong, wise leadership created an environment in the Diocese of Massachusetts where I could come out, where I could transition. He is a great leader and his work will live on both here in Massachusetts and throughout the Episcopal Church."

"Tom was a kind, contemplative man, and willing to learn and grow," added Marie Alford-Harkey, Integrity's Province I (New England) Coordinator, a graduate of Episcopal Divinity School and Deputy Director of the Religious Institute.

Bishop Shaw's advocacy did not start or end on human sexuality.  Bishop Glasspool cited his dedication to reforming the structures that lead to poverty, as well as immigration policy and gun laws. He also campaigned for peace in the Middle East and led numerous pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Africa, and South America, to bring about better understanding of global social issues.  Locally, he founded a middle school and other programs for disadvantaged Boston youth, and -- in 2003 -- helped launch the Barbara C. Harris Camp and Conference Center, a facility in Greenfield, N.H. that is operated by the Diocese of Massachusetts.

Christian Paolino is the Chair of the Integrity Stakeholders' Council.  This is a revision of the original breaking story.

1 comment:

Jim Donovan said...

My rector & I were praying for him at Morning Prayer today. May he rest in peace.