Anglican church elects gay, black, immigrant man in a same-sex marriage as bishop
An Anglican church in Missouri has elected a gay, black, immigrant man in a same-sex marriage as its new bishop.
Reverend Deon Johnson was overwhelming elected by voting delegates at Christ Church Cathedral in St Louis, with 113 votes out of 164, making him the new leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri and its more than 10,000 worshippers.
Johnson was described by the diocese in its announcement as a “veteran Episcopal priest with deep experience in social justice issues and ministry to gay and lesbian communities”.
He immigrated from Barbados to the United States at the age of 14, and now lives in Brighton, Michigan, with his husband and their two children.
The newly elected bishop appeared via video with his husband at Christ Church Cathedral, and seemed overwhelmed by the applause when the results were announced on Sunday, 24 November.
He said: “Thank you so very much for this awesome responsibility. I am overwhelmed with joy, humility, and gratitude.
“The Holy Spirit has brought us to this day, for such a time as this. I am looking forward to walking with you as we share the liberating love of Jesus. My husband and our family are looking forward to being with you in the new year.”
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According to the diocese, as long as consent is received from other bishops and diocesan standing committees, Johnson will be ordained in April 2020.
Mike Angell, the gay rector of The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion in Missouri, said of Johnson’s election: “Sometime’s God’s story breaks through. Yesterday, for me, was one of those breakthrough days.
“I don’t know if you heard, but yesterday we elected a new bishop. The Rev Deon K Johnson of St. Paul’s in Brighton Michigan. Our bishop-elect is an immigrant from Barbados. He is also a black man, and married to another man.”
The issue of same-sex love and marriage has divided the Anglican church recently.
The Anglican church of Canada voted against approving same-sex marriage at its general assembly in July this year, but the decision was made on just one vote.
The US Episcopal Church and the Scottish Episcopal Church have embraced same-sex unions, however the Church of England does not allow them despite increasing pressure.