Bishop Colin Johnson was elected metropolitan (senior bishop) of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario at the provincial synod in Cochrane, Ont. today.
Archbishop-elect Johnson was elected on the second ballot. “I feel very honoured and apprehensive in some ways about the workload, but challenged by the position and looking forward to serving,” he told the Anglican Journal. As metropolitan, he will be the senior bishop of the province, which includes the dioceses of Moosonee, Algoma, Ontario, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara and Huron, but will continue to serve in his position as diocesan bishop and chief pastor in the diocese of Toronto as he has since he was elected in 2004.
He succeeds Archbishop Caleb Lawrence, whose term as metropolitan ended in October and who has also announced in his plans to retire as the diocesan bishop of Moosonee in January.
In his new role, Archbishop-elect Johnson said he will continue to focus on advocacy, calling on the civil provincial government to reduce poverty and attend to the needs of those who are marginalized. The diocese of Toronto has been doing “good and effective work with that so far,” including placing ads in the Toronto Star which call on Anglicans to continue to give generously and for government to change policies. “We’ve been doing some of that work, really, on behalf of the province already,” he said, but noted that now “I will be representing not only a diocesan voice, but a provincial voice in that.”
The province also has a role to play in shaping theological education, he said. “How do we design theological education to serve the needs of the church as it moves into the 21st century?” he asked.
Archbishop-elect Johnson said a third area of focus will be “the linkages between dioceses, the networks that support co-operative work, [and] the shared work between the dioceses. That partly comes through chairing the house of bishops provincially but also linking, as the metropolitan, with the primate and the national house of bishops,” he said.
Archbishop-elect Johnson, 56, has worked in the diocese of Toronto throughout his ministry and said he will need to become more familiar with the northern diocese. He noted, however, that his role as metropolitan “is more supportive, nurturing, networking, providing supportive advice, presiding at an election for instance, but not providing the direct oversight of the dioceses other than my own.”
He will be installed as metropolitan at a service at Holy Trinity Church in Cochrane, Ont. this evening.