Common Roots: Ancient Evangelical Future Conference

Toronto elects first partnered “gay” bishop

The Diocese of Toronto elected three suffragan bishops at a special meeting of synod including the Anglican Church of Canada’s first “gay” bishop.

On 17 Sept 2016 the synod elected the Rev. Riscylla Walsh Shaw, the Rev. Canon Kevin Robertson and the Rev. Canon Jenny Andison in succession to the Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls who was elected Bishop of Huron earlier this year and the Rt. Rev. Philip Poole and the Rt. Rev. Patrick Yu, who have retired. Synod held three separate elections with Ms Walsh Shaw elected on the seventh ballot of the first election.

The new bishop (44) and her husband, Jana, have two children. She serves as incumbent of Christ Church, Bolton and trained for the ministry at Wycliffe College and also belongs to Canada’s Metis tribe. She told the synod: ““It’s a real honour and blessing to be part of the leadership, bringing that culture and point of view with me. At the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings, I learned a lot and made a lot of connections with the people across the land, so this is a really wonderful opportunity to find different ways to address some of the issues of reconciliation that we have in our diocese, and also to raise the culture of Metis.”

Canon Robertson (45) (pictured) was elected on the fourth ballot of the second election. He serves as incumbent of Christ Church, Deer Park in Toronto and trained for the ministry at Trinity College. He and his partner Mohan have two children. He told the synod: “I realize this is an historic day in the life of our church. It’s no secret that I’m the first openly gay, partnered bishop-elect in the diocese and perhaps in the Canadian church as well, and I know that for some people that’s a real challenge and for others it’s the fulfillment of what they’ve been hoping and praying for for a very long time. The peace and unity of the church is really important to me and I will work to continue that peace and unity as a bishop.” The new bishop added the July vote by General Synod to permit same-sex marriage was a “turning point for the national church and my election today is a turning point for our diocese, and I’m honoured to be a part of that. I’m really encouraged by the developments over the past couple of months – both General Synod and today bode really well for the full inclusion of LGBTQ people in the life of our church.”

Canon Andison (44) was elected on the third ballot of the third election. She is incumbent of St. Clement, Eglinton in Toronto and trained for the ministry at Wycliffe College. She and her husband Tim have three daughters. She asked the diocese to “pray for my soul, and that I would be a bishop who is faithful to God and pastoral to everyone. My passion is seeing churches renewed and grow and spread the love of Christ to people who have never heard it, so it will be a huge and exciting privilege to work with the laity and clergy of the diocese to help more people know the love of Jesus.”

Archbishop Colin Johnson noted the three new bishops were in their 40s and came from a diverse spectrum of theological views — evangelical to progressive. He expected there would be concern over Canon Robertson’s election, adding: “Kevin is certainly not the first gay man to become a bishop in the Communion but his election will probably bring a negative reaction in some places and a positive reaction in others. We’re at an early stage in this experience; I think many parts of the world do not understand it, so it will be a challenge for them, but it will be an opportunity for us to explain how and why we have made this choice today.”

The election results will now go to the Ontario House of Bishops for their concurrence, and pending approval they will be consecrated at St. Paul, Bloor Street on 7 Jan. 2017.

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