Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

New Assistant Bishop to Speak during Lenten Series

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

New Assistant Bishop to Speak during Lenten Series

Article excerpt

The new assistant bishop for the Episcopal Church of West Virginia and his wife will kick off an annual Lenten speaker series at a South Hills church on Wednesday. Bishop Mark Van Koevering and his wife, the Rev. Helen Van Koevering, are the guest speakers at the event, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church at 36 Norwood Road.

Mark Koevering was born in Michigan but served the last 12 years as the Anglican bishop of the Diocese of Niassa in Mozambique. The Koeverings have been in West Virginia since December.

Koevering said it was unusual for the Mozambique church to have an American serve as bishop, but he had been in the country for 10 years before his selection.

"The previous bishop resigned early and there was a chaotic situation, he said. "I think they wanted someone from the outside to put things in order.

Part of that chaos was that the diocese had only $1,500 in the bank to pay 18 clergy members across 200 churches, he said. But God was good, Koevering said, and by the end of his time there the diocese had more than doubled to 420 churches with 65,000 members.

Koevering was a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand before spending a year in China and then going to Mozambique as an agriculturist in 1987. Mozambique was in the middle of a civil war when Koevering arrived. He witnessed a massacre in the town where he lived in which 400 people were killed.

Helen Koevering grew up in St. Albans in England and met Mark in 1989 while doing community development work in Africa. She was ordained an Anglican priest in England and was one of the first female priests in the diocese of Niassa. She's currently working on her doctorate degree in spirituality and community development.

Koevering said the couple will talk about their experiences in Africa and how the culture there differs from the culture here. …

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