One of the nicest and kindest men I have ever known, The Right Reverend Edgar Otis Charles, who for more than six decades served as a priest and then bishop in the Episcopal Church, died yesterday afternoon, just a few months after losing his husband Felipe Sanchez Paris-Charles.
I first met Bishop Otis years ago, after he had retired as the Bishop of Utah and after he had come out as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church (or any denomination). The gentle yet warm spirit that was his made me know immediately that we would always be friends. It was so much fun running in to him unexpectedly sometimes at public events.
His place in the history of the Episcopal Church is solid. For fourteen years he served as a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission, which developed the 1979 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. In the House of Bishops, he was chair of the Prayer Book Committee and a member of the Bishops' Committee on Racism. After his years as Utah's bishop, he became dean of the Episcopal Divinity School. He was also active in the peace movement and, after coming out, became active in lgbt matters.
It was mostly with his husband Felipe that I knew him. It was always Otis AND Felipe! When one of them sponsored me for AIDS Walk, I knew it was from them both. The two appear in the film "Love Free or Die," a portion of which you can see HERE and get a sense of the love between Otis and Felipe. You could see the love in their eyes.
Services for Bishop Otis have not yet been arranged but I imagine that Saint Gregory's, the local parish of which he was a member, will hold some kind of liturgy and there will likely be a service in Utah as well. Rest in peace dear friend. Thanks for your wonderful testimony.