Instructor Profile: Bishop Ian Douglas

 Ian Douglas

Tomorrow, we launch the Big Class: A Christian Response to Gun Violence with Bishop Eugene Sutton and Bishop Ian Douglas. Last week, we profiled Bishop Eugene Sutton to give you a better sense of who he is and what he brings to the conversation about gun violence. Today, we offer a similar profile of Bishop Ian Douglas.

Ian Douglas grew up in Massachusetts. He earned his M.Div at Harvard Divinity School in 1983. In the same year, he served as a chaplain intern at Massachusetts General Hospital, after which he volunteered as a missionary for the Episcopal Church in Port-a-Prince, Haiti for two years. He then served as Associate for Overseas Leadership Development in New York City for two years. He was ordained as an Episcopal priest in 1989, serving as Priest Associate at St. James Episcopal Church in Cambridge, MA from 1989-2010. In 1993, he earned his Ph.D. in religious studies at Boston University, focusing his dissertation on the foreign mission of the Episcopal church. He served as Angus Dun Professor of Mission and World Christianity from 1991 to 2010 at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. In 2010, Ian Douglas was ordained bishop, and since then, he has served as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

As his title at the Episcopal Divinity School makes clear, Bishop Douglas’ ministry has focused on global Christianity and the mission of the church across the globe. He has focused particularly on Haiti. He lived in Haiti for two years, wrote his master’s thesis on the history and religion of Haiti, speaks fluent Haitian, and has worked on various committees to promote a strong relationship between the Episcopal Church in Haiti and the Episcopal Church in the United States. The global mission of the church across the world has been the primary focus on Bishop Douglas’ career. He has served on numerous committees related to the global mission of the church, has published many articles on the subject, and has written two books and edited one about the global church and mission work.

Bishop Douglas also has focused much energy on the subject of reconciliation. He co-wrote his most recent book, Understanding the Windsor Report: Two Leaders in the American Church Speak Across the Divide, with the Rev. Dr. Paul Zahl, who disagrees with Bishop Douglas about ordaining gay clergy. Their goal in the book is to reach out and try to help reconcile a church divided on the issue of homosexuality. One of Douglas’ earlier books, Waging Reconciliation: God’s Mission in a Time of Globalization and Crisis, also takes reconciliation as a theme. Reaching out across barriers and reconciling differences has been an important theme throughout Bishop Douglas’ career.

Bishop Douglas’ interest in preventing gun violence fits in well with his interest in social justice and reconciliation. In 2013, Bishop Douglas convened Bishops United Against Gun Violence with Bishop Eugene Sutton and Bishop Mark Beckwith. He has spoken out and written articles in favor of safer gun laws, particularly in the wake of the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, CT, and has become a prominent voice in the fight against gun violence. We look forward to sharing his guidance on this important issue starting tomorrow.

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