MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (AP) — The newly ordained Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island is helping to bring the church into the 21st century with the use of social media, church officials say.
The Very Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely Jr. is one of only six Episcopal bishops in the country who use Twitter, said Arizona Bishop Kirk Smith. Knisely was ordained Saturday at Dorrance Field House at St. George’s School in Middletown.
More than 2,000 people attended the 2½-hour service, including the Most Rev. Katherine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, The Providence Journal reported. Knisely is the Diocese of Rhode Island’s 13th bishop.
Smith said Knisely is a smart and media-savvy bishop who will be taking advantage of Facebook, Twitter and other social media to ‘‘communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ in a whole new exciting way.’’ He said the aim is to better reach young people through the communication methods they use.
‘‘If our church is to grow, it will have to realize this,’’ Smith said. ‘‘The hard fact is that we have become a graying denomination where the average age is 62 and the average number of youths in a parish is eight.’’
Knisely previously was dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Phoenix. He was elected bishop of Rhode Island by lay people and clergy in June and later ratified by the church’s General Convention.
Knisely said the Episcopal Church is facing a difficult time as it seeks to increase its ranks.
‘‘People are not entering quickly enough to replace those who are leaving,’’ he said in a statement. ‘‘Population and demographics are forcing Episcopalians to rethink how we structure ourselves to do ministry and mission at all levels of our denomination. Finances are stretched thin and people are worried if our faith will have children.’’
Rhode Island has 34,000 self-identified Episcopalians and 50 parishes, The Newport Daily News reported.
‘‘I'm so excited to be coming here,’’ Knisely said Friday. ‘‘I'll spend the rest of my working life in this place, with the extraordinary talents that have gathered in this diocese.’’