The Rt. Rev. Nedi Rivera, Episcopal Bishop
Episcopal Bishop Nedi Rivera has spent her life giving. She gives to her friends, to her family, to her community, and to her parishes. In 2004, the Rt. Rev. Rivera was elected Bishop Suffragan to the Diocese of Olympia, in Washington state, making her the first Latina bishop in the Anglican Communion. Her approach to giving stems from the desire to, “help people claim their vocation, power, and responsibility for the health of the world.” Rivera advocates paying attention. She believes that each of us is responsible for contributing to healing the world, to give so that our hearts are open, and so we can develop philanthropic outlets that are effective and strong. “Whenever we are focused on what we can receive, we begin to die,” she said. “When we focus on what we have to give, we begin to live.”
Bishop Rivera was ordained as a Deacon in 1975, as a Priest in 1979, and as Bishop in 2005. She holds an honorary doctorate in divinity from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif. She has been a member of national boards, including the Curriculum Board for the College of Bishops which is designed to aid bishops around the country develop not only spiritually, but also academically and personally. In 2005, Bishop Rivera organized a team to rebuild St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. While with the Diocese of Olympia, she spearheaded a campaign to purchase 30,000 mosquito nets for distribution in African countries that are severely impacted by malaria. She believes in justice and making a difference in people’s lives, even if it goes against the grain. In 2006, when the gay marriage debate roiled the church, Bishop Rivera took an unpopular stand. “I won’t marry anyone straight or gay, until the church officially authorizes the marriage of homosexuals,” she said. In 2003, she had supported the ordination of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. She recalled her years of study at Wheaton College. The variety of courses required, she said, “were all about being educated to be a leader, a giver.” The importance of making a difference was reinforced for her in college. But she first learned it from her father, Episcopal Bishop Victor Manuel Rivera, who was Puerto Rican. “My dad was a great believer in what we have, we are given for the sake of the world,” she said. It is a sentiment Rivera has carried throughout her life, and her work.