Fayette County

He led churches in Africa and West Virginia. Now he’ll lead Lexington’s Episcopal diocese.

The Rt. Rev. Mark Van Koevering was affirmed as bishop provisional of the Diocese of Lexington Saturday.
The Rt. Rev. Mark Van Koevering was affirmed as bishop provisional of the Diocese of Lexington Saturday. Photo submitted

The Episcopal Diocese of Lexington has a new spiritual leader.

The Rt. Rev. Mark Van Koevering was affirmed “bishop provisional” for the diocese at its annual convention Saturday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Winchester. A bishop provisional serves when a diocese is without a permanent bishop.

Van Koevering, who replaces the Rt. Rev. Bruce Caldwell, took over leadership after the close of the convention and will be living here by early April.

The goal for the Lexington diocese was to select a bishop provisional who would “serve two to three years with the intent of creating a process that may lead to her or his election as our Bishop Diocesan,” according to information about the process that was posted on the diocese’s website Jan. 30.

A news release issued Saturday said “the diocese is hopeful that Bishop Mark’s tenure in the diocese will endure for many years.”

Van Koevering served as bishop of the Diocese of Niassa in Mozambique, Africa, from 2003 until 2015. In late 2015, he moved back to the U.S. to serve as assistant bishop of the Diocese of West Virginia.

The diocese said his experience serving in Appalachia and among small churches will be an asset.

“What impresses me the most about Bishop Van Koevering is his ability to articulate how important his relationship with Jesus Christ truly is and, based on that, how he lives with an expectation of God to act,” Rev. Matthew Young, president of the Standing Committee, said in the news release. “The Diocese of Lexington should very much benefit from Bishop Van Koevering’s honesty, integrity and maturity.”

Van Koevering said in the release that he’s been encouraged by what he has seen and heard during meetings with clergy and others in the Lexington diocese.

“God is at work among you,” he said. “I want to thank you for your trust and confidence. It is a precious gift and a solemn responsibility that you offer, and I look forward to working with you as together we join God’s mission adventure.”

His wife, Rev. Helen Van Koevering, is serving as rector at St. Raphael’s Episcopal Church in Lexington. The couple have three adult children.

Caldwell, retired bishop of the diocese of Wyoming, became bishop provisional in June 2016. He replaced Bishop Doug Hahn, who was suspended and later resigned after it became known that he had withheld information about a previous affair during the interview process for the job.