Updated March 4, 2022 - 7:24 pm
The Episcopal Church will consecrate a new bishop for Nevada this weekend, filling a role that has been vacant since 2018.
The Rev. Elizabeth Bonforte Gardner will be consecrated the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nevada on Saturday. Bishops from around the world will join the invitation-only ceremony in Las Vegas.
She will take the place of Bishop Dan Edwards, who retired in 2018. Since then, the Rt. Rev. James Edward Waggoner Jr. from the Diocese of Spokane has served as assisting bishop.
Gardner said the pandemic has forced people and churches to feel isolated, and that she wants to focus on bringing people together as family.
“We may not necessarily agree with one another on everything, but the important thing is that we are … together at the table,” Gardner said. “And so that’s one of the things I’d like to bring to Nevada, is this idea that even as individuals, we’re part of something much bigger.”
She will be the second woman to serve as bishop in Nevada, following in the footsteps of Katharine Jefferts Schori, who went on to serve as the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church from 2006 to 2015.
Jefferts Schori is the only woman to ever serve as presiding bishop for the church.
Gardner has ties to Nevada already, having served as an aide to the late U.S. Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, the first woman to represent Nevada in Congress, serving from 1983 to 1997.
“And I’m so lucky,” Gardner said. “I’m of the generation where I’m not the first. She (Vucanovich) was the first, Bishop Katharine was the first, and I get to reap the rewards of their extra hard work.”
Gardner was born in Colorado and moved to San Diego with her family when she was in middle school. She studied political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her work in the political realm has included lobbying and consulting for lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
She received a master of divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary and joins Nevada from Washington, D.C., most recently serving as rector of St. Mark’s in Alexandria, Virginia.