The Rev. William N. McKeachie announced yesterday his resignation as rector of Old St. Paul's, the "Mother Church" in Baltimore of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, to accept the post of dean of the Episcopal cathedral in Charleston, S.C.
Father McKeachie, 52, has been a leader of traditionalist Episcopalians since beginning his rectorship of the 303-year-old city parish 14 years ago. He was one of the six authors in 1991 of the "Baltimore Declaration," which sought the "renewal of Christian orthodoxy within the Episcopal Church."
Theological conservatives supported the declaration, which challenged liberal leadership in the diocese and in the national denomination, and opposed such trends as the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of practicing homosexuals.
As the rector of Old St. Paul's at Charles and Saratoga streets, Father McKeachie serves on the boards of St. Paul's School for Boys and St. Paul's School for Girls, both in Brooklandville, posts he will also relinquish at the end of October.
The Rev. R. Douglas Pitt will take over as acting rector in November. A committee will be named to screen candidates for Father McKeachie's permanent replacement.
About his new assignment as both rector and dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston, Father McKeachie said, "The cathedral's diocesan status and strategic city location together provide unique opportunities for mission. I hope and pray that the cathedral will be led by God to take faith-filled initiatives in witnessing to Christ in the city of Charleston and in reaching out to the entire community, both religious and civic."
The priest said he was particularly interested, as he has been in Baltimore, "in relating to the nearby academic communities, in expanding youth ministry, and in strongly affirming the musical and liturgical offerings of the cathedral."
Tuesday's call from the vestry of the Charleston cathedral was with the endorsement of the bishop of South Carolina, the rector said.
During his 14-year tenure at the downtown Baltimore church, daily liturgical services were reinstated, choral evensong was resumed on a regular basis, a Sunday school program for children and families was developed, a spiritual network of small groups called Disciples of Christ in Prayer was initiated, and feeding and shelter programs for the homeless were started.
Worship attendance at Old St. Paul's increased, and the annual budget for mission and ministry more than doubled.
A New York native, Father McKeachie moved to England with his parents as a child. An alumnus of St. John's College in Annapolis, he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at the University of the South at Sewanee, Tenn., where he graduated in 1966. His wife, the former Elisabeth Gray, whom he married in 1982, is a harpist. They have four children.