The Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe was ordained bishop of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania in 2007 and became bishop provisional of Western New York in 2019. He previously served as bishop provisional of the Diocese of Bethlehem from 2014 until 2018.
Born in Sharon, Pennsylvania, the bishop graduated from Grove City College in 1997 with a B. A. in history. “I grew up in Western Pennsylvania, and came to know and to love that culture,” he said in a recent interview. “I come from a family of primarily steel and mill workers. That part of the world is resilient, but it was in the process of becoming what we now call the Rust Belt.”
The bishop graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary in 2000 and returned to the diocese. “I came back to serve a church, a congregation in a small town in western Pennsylvania, and had a tremendous relationship with the community – the church more than doubled in size in a declining demographic,” he said. “I was doing ministry in a place I know and love.”
Rowe was 32 in May 2007, when he was elected bishop on the first ballot. For almost 12 years, he was the youngest bishop in the church.
“When I became diocesan bishop, I saw that Western New York shares a culture with the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania,” he says, and was heartened to learn that the Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin, former bishop of Western New York was open to exploring the current partnership.
The bishop is known for his research and work on organizational learning and adaptive performance in the church. He earned a Ph.D. in organizational learning and leadership at Gannon University in Erie in 2014.
He serves as parliamentarian for the House of Bishops, chair of the Episcopal Church Building Fund, and vice chair of the Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, and Constitution and Canons. He also serves on the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church.
He is married to Carly Rowe, a Christian educator, and they have a nine-year-old daughter, Lauren.