Episcopal Church celebrates Bishop Browning’s life, bids him farewell

Hundreds gathered to pay tribute to the 24th Presiding Bishop Edmond Lee Browning at a July 19 memorial service in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Frank DeSantis, Diocese of Oregon

Hundreds gathered to pay tribute to the 24th Presiding Bishop Edmond Lee Browning at a July 19 memorial service in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Frank DeSantis, Diocese of Oregon

[Episcopal Diocese of Oregon] The Episcopal Church bid farewell to Bishop Edmond Lee Browning, the church’s 24th presiding bishop, on July 19 at Trinity Cathedral in Portland, Oregon.

The Rt. Rev. Edmond Lee Browning

The Rt. Rev. Edmond Lee Browning

Browning died on July 11 at the age of 87. He lived in Hood River, Oregon.

A funeral liturgy was held July 17 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Hood River, and another service is planned at Cathedral of St. Andrew in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Leaders in the Episcopal Church traveled from around the country to join in celebration of a life that brought profound change to the church and the world. The Rt. Rev. Frank T. Griswold, 25th presiding bishop, delivered the homily. Griswold described Browning’s death day as his “birth day” – into eternity. The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, 26th presiding bishop, led the post-communion prayer. Current Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry closed the service with a resounding blessing of the people.

24th Presiding Bishop Edmond Lee Browning's past three predecessors pose for a photo following his memorial service July 19 in Portland, Oregon. From left are 26th Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, 27th Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry and 25th Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold. Photo: Frank DeSantis, Diocese of Oregon

24th Presiding Bishop Edmond Lee Browning’s three successors pose for a photo following his memorial service July 19 in Portland, Oregon. From left are 26th Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, 27th Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry and 25th Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold. Photo: Frank DeSantis, Diocese of Oregon

The Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, current president of the church’s House of Deputies, and Bonnie Anderson, her predecessor, also participated in the service.

The Rev. Curtis Almquist, SSJE, described Browning in terms of the kindness, joy and humility he brought to every task.

The Rev. Brian Grieves, a colleague of Browning’s, read a statement from Cape Town Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. “Whether he was advocating for women, lay people, people of color or gays and lesbians and others to be fully included in the life of the church, he became a conscience for justice that you are still building on now,” Tutu said.  “Keep on with the journey.  And should you forget, Patti (Browning’s wife) will remind you.”

Browning visited South Africa “during our darkest days and gave us encouragement and hope,” he said. “He fiercely challenged U.S. politicians and corporations to bring an end to the evil of apartheid.”

Tutu recalled that Browning also stood against “another apartheid – the injustice of the occupation of 4 million Palestinians.”

To the remembrances of colleagues were added that of Browning’s oldest son, the Hon. R. Mark Browning, judge of the first circuit court of Oahu, Hawaii. He recounted his own upbringing and the role of his strong mother, Patti Browning, in opening their home and table to all. His parents’ marriage was a “magnificent love story,” he said. The couple raised five children during a career that included time in Okinawa, Texas, Hawaii and Europe. The Browning grandchildren led the congregation in prayer.

Browning leaves a legacy of opening the church, making it a place where “there will be no outcasts,” in his words. Known for taking theologically liberal stances, he fought institutional racism and other forms of injustice. Browning worked for full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church. He had a place in other important milestones. For example, in 1989 he consecrated the Rev. Barbara Harris of the Diocese of Massachusetts as the first female bishop in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion.

From left, 25th Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, 26th Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and former President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson participate in the memorial service to 24th Presiding Bishop Edmond Lee Browning on July 19 in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Frank DeSantis, Diocese of Oregon

From left, 25th Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, 26th Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and former President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson participate in the memorial service to 24th Presiding Bishop Edmond Lee Browning on July 19 in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Frank DeSantis, Diocese of Oregon

Browning was ordained as a deacon on July 2, 1954, and as a priest on May 23, 1955. He was the 6th bishop of Hawaii and was elected presiding bishop at the 68th General Convention in Anaheim, California, in September 1985 and served for 12 years.

The service for Browning gave those in attendance a sense of his deep love for family, his open heart, and his unflagging struggle for justice and inclusion. At his installation sermon in 1986, he invoked the spirit of activism and hope: “Let us live out a mission that seeks to rescue the world from its present peril, to save those drowning in a raging river of despair, to rescue those caught in a wasteland of hopelessness. Let us commit ourselves to give the waters of baptism to those who thirst for justice.”

Previous ENS coverage of Browning’s death and the other tributes made to him can be found here.

A service is also planned at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Honolulu, Hawaii, on Aug. 13 at 11 a.m.

Comments

  1. The Rev Tom Van Culin says:

    His impact will be felt for many generations.

  2. colleen kelly-ginter says:

    While in Hood River 4 years ago, ‘asked this glorious peep directions. Lovely! this loving kind human was generous of his time. After a bit, living across the water in Stevenson, things I heard led me to believe his pastoral care laid deep in his heart. To me; the most important attribute in a clergy. Bless you my brother in Christ. I love you.

  3. Dr. Erna Lund says:

    Bishop Browning is the True Spiritual Leader so desperately needed in the Episcopal Church and throughout our country and in our world today. His spirit and words of life and life will endure forever in our faith communities far and wide and into Eternity…

  4. The Rev. Harriet B Linville says:

    A most fitting tribute to ++Ed and Patti in their lifelong partnership in ministry. The service reminded all of the faith that includes all. Inspiring to have been there.

  5. Fr. Brian K. Wilbert says:

    Pie Jesu Requiema, Dona ei Requiem, Sempiternam Requiem…Gentle Jesus grant him eternal rest.

  6. The Rev. Canon Kerry Robb says:

    A little while after the General Convention of our church, when Bishop Browning declared that “there will be no outcasts in our church,” he visited our diocese. I ask him if there was any requirement for membership in our church. “Yes,” he replied, “you must be wounded.”

  7. Prof Willis H A Moore says:

    The Brownings went to Okinawa as missionaries, and began early on trying to bring Okinawa and the Nippon Sei Ko Kai into unity; his time in Hawai’i was always prophetic. He truly wanted a church for all – no outcasts. He gladly ordained Lynette Schaeffer in 1977; she would serve on the Island of Moloka’i. His time in NYC was also prophetic, especially with South Africa and in support of justice for Palestine. He truly understood that our Presiding Bishop is prophet and pastor. Malama pono.

  8. Sanford Hampton says:

    One of the most significant figures in The Episcopal Church in our time. I hope he will be proposed for The Calendar.

  9. Christopher Lo says:

    In 1995, the then outgoing Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the late Bishop Edmund Browning, wrote the following in his column in “Episcopal Life”: “I do believe that when you live in a place, breathe deeply of the life and spirit there, love and grow, you are marked by that place. You take something of it with you, yours forever, perhaps transfixed at that time when you and that place intersected.”

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