City native will lead Episcopals in Alabama

Published 1:01 am Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Vicksburg native has been elected bishop of the Episcopal Church in Alabama.

The Right Rev. John McKee Sloan, 55, is the 11th bishop tapped to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, based in Birmingham. He succeeds the retiring Right Rev. Henry N. Parsley Jr.

Sloan has been assistant to the bishop since 2008. He takes the reins Jan. 7 after a ceremony, said his assistant, Denise Servant.

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“The bishop is the chief pastor of the diocese,” Sloan said. “Every congregation is autonomous and at the same time united. We encourage people to think and have their own opinions. Part of my role is to bring people together to disagree lovingly and respectfully.”

Episcopal bishops are elected by rectors and retired rectors in their diocese. Sloan was elected from a field of four.

He will oversee 91 congregations in Alabama.

Sloan knew since he was 13 years old that he wanted to be a priest.

He credits The Rev. Clifton McInnis, former rector of The Church of the Holy Trinity, Episcopal, with guidance.

“He spent time listening to me instead of treating me like a goofy 13-year-old,” he said. “It meant the world to me. I wanted to be like Father McInnis.”

While in Vicksburg, Sloan, the son of the late Richard Crofton Sloan and Mary Bayer Sloan, who now lives in Eutaw, Ala., was a member of Holy Trinity and a graduate of South Vicksburg High School in 1973.

“I was baptized, confirmed and ordained at Holy Trinity,” he said.

Sloan received a bachelor’s in sociology from Mississippi State University in 1976 and a master’s in divinity from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., in 1981.

He served as rector at churches in Olive Branch, West Point, Grenada and Oxford before moving to Alabama in 1993.

He was rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Huntsville from 1993 to 2007. He and his wife, Tina, have two children, McKee and Mary Nell.