It’s time for someone else to take the ministry of the York-Simcoe area in the diocese of Toronto to its next chapter, says Bishop George Elliott, who has announced that he plans to retire April 30, 2013.
His successor will step into something that is “positive” and “hopeful,” said Elliott in an interview, adding: “I think the ministry is in good shape.”
“I’ve got a great group of clergy,” said Elliott, who was ordained a priest in 1980 and elected a suffragan bishop in the diocese of Toronto in December 2000. “There’s a sense of trying to be faithful, to look at where God is calling.” In some instances, this has included trying different things, said Elliot, even when it left some “fearful” to do so.
York-Simcoe, comprised of 66 congregations and 44 parishes in one of the fastest growing regions in southern Ontario, is in a period of transition brought about by changing demographics, particularly in rural communities. While some parishes have been able to adapt and change and even grow, others have had to close. In some communities, said Elliott, all that’s left is the church.
Looking back, Elliott said some of his most enjoyable memories as a bishop have come from his Sunday morning visits to congregations. “From Day One, I have found it really life-giving and exciting. People are unbelievably welcoming. This has made it easy for me to offer my support.”
Elliott said he also enjoyed his ministry outside the diocese, including his stint as chair of the now-defunct Anglican Journal Board. “It broadens your perspective on things,” he said.
“Bishop Elliott has been a tremendous source of strength and encouragement to the Journal and its staff,” said Kristin Jenkins, editor. “I am deeply grateful for his wisdom and support and will miss his optimism and gentle counsel.”
For the first six months of retirement, Elliott said he plans to “take a deep breath,” then move on to new endeavours such as mentoring and coaching young clergy.