Benson presides as ‘Boy Bishop’ at Christ the King

Nicholas Bishop

At the Cathedral of Christ the King in Sharpsburg on Sunday, Dec. 12, Kyle Benson, age 17, presided over much of the Sunday service as “Nicholas Bishop,” also known as “Boy Bishop,” in an ancient European ceremony which offers a lesson in humility and recognition of the wisdom of youthful innocence.

Kyle presided at the Sunday Services — except for the Absolution and celebrating Communion — and he preached a sermon he had written himself at both the 8:30 and 10 a.m. services. The members of the congregation agreed that it was a very creditable first sermon and energetically congratulated Boy Bishop Benson following the services.

Selecting Nicholas Bishops or Boy Bishops was once a popular tradition throughout Europe, from the tip of Italy to the Hebrides in Scotland and from Ireland to Hungary. It is a way of symbolically representing the teaching of Christ and fits perfectly with the Advent themes of turning the tables and oversetting expectations.

The appointment of Boy Bishops honors the feast of St. Nicholas of Myra, patron of children, who is traditionally remembered as having a special, personal concern for the safety and well-being of children.

Though Queen Elizabeth I ended the custom in England, it survived on the Continent until 1799.

In modern times, churches have begun to revive the custom, especially in English cathedrals and parishes. As far as can be determined, Christ the King Church was the first Charismatic Episcopal parish to observe this ancient tradition. Benson was the third young man to be chosen as a Nicholas Bishop in the Mid-South Diocese, the others being Jon Paul Landon (2008), now a soldier in the U. S. Army, and Thomas Metzger (2009) of Peachtree City.

Although Kyle’s “reign” lasted only one day, he and his family said they were impressed by the experience. Benson is a home school student who will graduate from high school this spring. He has been a member of the Civil Air patrol since age 12 and was the squadron commander at his unit in Mississippi.

Since moving to Georgia, he joined the squadron in Sandy Springs and recently led a team from that unit to compete in an Iron Man competition.

Benson also graduated from the rigorous Para jumper Orientation Course for CAP cadets in New Mexico. A National Merit Semi-finalist, Benson hopes to attend Covenant College and major in biology.

At the Cathedral of Christ the King, he is a member of the Youth Band where he sings and plays guitar. He also plays electric piano and is in a Christian rock band. Other interests include reading and writing.

About the experience, he said, “I was really nervous but, after I got started, it was really fun.”

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