Athabasca elects new bishop

Bishop-elect David Greenwood says he feels "humbled" to have been elected bishop of the diocese of Athabasca. Photo: Joy MacComb
Published November 21, 2019

Canon David Greenwood was elected bishop of the diocese of Athabasca at an electoral synod at St. James Cathedral, Peace River, Alta., November 16. He was elected on the third ballot.

In an email interview with the Journal, Greenwood said the experience was “quite surreal, as in, ‘did that really happen?’”

As a nominee, Greenwood says he felt worried, seeing the role of a bishop as a difficult one, with stresses coming from all directions. However, when the results came in, “I was quite surprised that the actual feeling I had was one of humility,” Greenwood says. “I am very humbled that God appointed me through the people of God electing me in this part of his church.”

As bishop he says his vision includes bringing younger generations in to “join us in worship and working for the Kingdom of God,” as well as clergy and parish care. “Our clergy are quite spread out in dispersed parishes,” he says, adding that he looks forward to finding ways to build relationship with and nurture clergy and parishes across the diocese.

Greenwood says he is excited for the adventure which he and his wife Benita are now on, and is thankful for the support he has received from her, from the diocese and the other nominees.

“I don’t know what this new adventure will include. I am looking forward to exploring it with a sense of expectation, and trust that God will guide us, step by step…I am looking forward to building relationships and discovering this with the people that God has brought together, both clergy and lay. I am hopeful that both my wife and I shall look back on this day and think, ‘What a blessing that was’—and I pray that the diocese will as well.”

Greenwood has been a parish priest in the diocese of Athabasca since 2015.

He has been in the diocese since 1988, when he and his young family moved to Fort McMurray. He worked for 30 years at Syncrude Canada Ltd., as a computer programmer, systems designer and architect, reporting architect and supervisor. In 2004, he was ordained as a vocational deacon, and in 2012 sensed a call to the priesthood.

Greenwood succeeds the previous bishop of Athabasca Fraser Lawton, who resigned in September. Lawton resigned after accepting positions with the Episcopal Church’s diocese of Dallas, as rector of the Church of St. Dunstan in Mineola, Texas, and as an assisting bishop for the diocese.

The diocese of Athabasca is a Council of the North diocese covering an area of more than 317,000 square kilometres in the northern half of the province of Alberta. It was founded in 1874 and is one of ten dioceses in the ecclesiastical province of Rupert’s Land.

Editor’s note: A correction has been made to an earlier version of this story to fix a spelling error in former bishop of Athabasca Fraser Lawton’s name.


  • Joelle Kidd

    Joelle Kidd was a staff writer for the Anglican Journal from 2017 to 2021.

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