Sermon speaks volumes about cyclist’s death

Baltimore Sun

By Larry Perl,
Baltimore Messenger

A Homeland church in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is slowly and painfully coming to grips with Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook’s involvement in the traffic collision that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo on Roland Avenue.

“Has it been only a week since we heard the news?” the Rev. Caroline Stewart, associate senior rector of the Church of the Redeemer, asked parishioners in a sermon devoted exclusively to the issue.

In the sermon, which she delivered at Saturday’s Faith@Five contemporary service and at two traditional services Sunday morning, Stewart said the still-unfolding facts in the case, coupled with “disturbing background information” about Cook’s guilty plea to driving under the influence of alcohol in 2010, have permeated the Redeemer church community of 725 households. The issue has caused mixed emotions that touch on “many, many points of the human compass as well as the institution of The Episcopal Church,” Stewart said.

Police are continuing to investigate the 2:40 p.m. Dec. 27 crash in the 5700 block of Roland Avenue. Police said Palermo, 41, of Anneslie, a married father of two, was riding his bicycle in the 5700 block of Roland Avenue when he was struck by a car. The driver has since been identified by the diocese and by her attorney as Bishop Suffragan Heather Elizabeth Cook, the second-ranking official in the diocese.

Cook initially drove away from the scene but returned a short time later, according to the diocese and witnesses at the scene. No charges have been filed.

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