Messenger - Vol. 1, No. 2, Page 25
Winter 1992
Alumni Profile; Talking down the barriers
     As bishop of the Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., and four
surrounding Maryland counties, Ronald Hayward Haines, Delaware '56,
believes the church can breach the barriers that separate people of
different ethnic, racial and national background or sexual
     "This is the premier diocese in the Episcopal Church," he says.
"What happens here will eventually happen in other places."
     As head of the Washington National Cathedral Foundation, Haines
has encouraged gatherings of community and national decision-makers to
address a wide range of issues, from dealing with the non-traditional
family to responding to such external events as the Gulf War. "How do
we respond to the unfortunate drug problem and killings that are
taking place in some parts of the city, especially of young men who
are minorities?" he asks. "How can the church and the city government
work together for the good of society, recognizing that sometimes
evangelism starts when meeting people's needs?"
     Haines also is trying to create dialogue between fellow religious
leaders in the District of Columbia by convening inter-faith
gatherings. "I'm quite taken by it, because it's modeling what I think
the Kingdom of God is about," the bishop says. "We struggle, but we
find we have a lot in common with one another."
     Haines' diocese is made up of a "wondrous diversity of people,"
encompassing 39,000 members from 96 congregations in both rural and
urban communities. Although a recent decision by the bishop to ordain
an openly gay priest received national attention by the press and drew
criticism from other bishops, his action has helped to open up
discussion within the diocese itself.
     According to Jack Tull, a member of the Washington diocese, "The
church as a whole was ordaining gay people, but this information was
kept in the closet. Haines felt this was the wrong thing to do.
     "Even though he received a lot of blacklash on the ordination,"
Tull says, "he felt for those opposed to him, hoping they could come
to terms with this."
     "A couple of years ago, we said in this diocese that we'll be
open about a person's orientation," Haines says, "realizing that this
stand creates problems as well as solves some difficulties.
     "I think we have to work out an ethic of behavior for all
Christians, and we don't have one that's consistent right now. I think
there's a long period of dialogue and discovery ahead. Sexuality is
one facet of it, but certainly, in my mind, not the central one."
     Haines came to the church from a business career, following a
significant event in his life. Shortly after giving birth to their
first child, his wife, the former Mary Elizabeth Terrell, Delaware
'56, was hospitalized for several months. His "first adult crisis" had
significant spiritual ramifications, Haines says. "I discovered my own
spiritual development had been arrested at some early point in
     After Mary Haines' recovery, the couple started a home prayer
group for students from a Presbyterian seminary. "As a result, our
interests changed," Mary Haines remembers. "We felt as if we had a
real impact on people's lives." When Haines was transferred by
Reynolds Aluminum to the New York City area, the couple hosted an
ecumenical prayer group.
     Haines decided to enroll part-time at the seminary of the
Episcopal Diocese of Long Island. "I had no intention of being
ordained, and I didn't know that you couldn't just take a
course,"Haines says. Four years later, he was the school's first
graduate and was ordained a deacon. Going on to earn two master's
degrees from General Theological Seminary, he left the business world
and became an assistant pastor to a 1,000-member black congregation in
the South Bronx.
     Over the next 18 years, Haines served in North Carolina as a
rector, an adjunct therapist in a mental health center and a bishop's
deputy. His administrative experience led to his election in 1986 to
suffragan (assistant) bishop and, four years later, to bishop of the
Washington, D.C., diocese.
     A lay delegate to the convention that would elect Haines
suffragan bishop, Peggy Johnson was among the first to interview him.
     "I remember being impressed when he started off in prayer," she
recalls. "He was the only candidate to do that. It was a simple
prayer, but very strengthening and very inspirational because it was a
big task we were facing. Right from that point on, I really looked to
him for that particular quality, and I've never been disappointed."
     -Bill Clark, Delaware '82