Bishop John Charles Bothwell, who ordained the first female priests in the Anglican diocese of Niagara in 1976, died on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at the age of 87.
“It is hard to encapsulate [Bothwell’s] impact upon the life of the parishes he served, the diocese of Niagara, the Anglican Church of Canada, and the Anglican Communion. He was one of the great leaders of our time,” said a press statement by Bishop Michael Bird, the diocesan bishop of Niagara.
Bothwell “served with great distinction during his vibrant and transformative ministry,” the statement added. He became co-adjutor bishop of Niagara in 1971, its diocesan bishop from 1973 to 1985 and metropolitan (senior archbishop) of the ecclesiastical province of Ontario from 1986 to 1991.
During his episcopacy, Bothwell co-consecrated at the ordination of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and attended two Lambeth Conferences in England.
Born in west Toronto, Bothwell obtained a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Toronto, followed by a licentiate in theology and a bachelor of divinity from Trinity College.
Ordained a deacon in 1951 and a priest in 1952, Bothwell served parishes in Toronto, Oakville, Dundas-all in Ontario-and in Vancouver.
He became a canon of the diocese of Niagara’s Christ Church Cathedral, in Hamilton, Ont., in 1963.
Before he became a bishop, he served as national executive director of program in the Anglican Church of Canada’s national office in Toronto.
After his retirement, Bothwell served as chancellor of the University of Toronto’s Trinity College, and was involved in many community activities.
In 1993, the Hamilton Public Library welcomed Bothwell to its “Gallery of Distinction,” a recognition awarded to “permanently recognize outstanding Hamilton citizens, past and present, who have made significant contributions towards the betterment of our community.” It noted that while Bothwell played a prominent role in the Anglican church, he “also made a substantial mark in the community through his high-profile involvements in volunteer organizations.” Bothwell served as chair of the Hamilton Volunteer Bureau; co-chair of the Community Information Service; president of the Social Planning and Research Council; and chair of The Hamilton Foundation, among others.
The diocese of Niagara has announced that a service to celebrate Bothwell’s life and ministry will take place on Monday, Feb. 3, 10:30 a.m., at Christ Church Cathedral in Hamilton.
Visitation will take place on Sunday, Feb. 2, from 3 to 5 p.m., and 7 to 9 p.m., at St. Christopher’s Anglican Church, 662 Guelph Line, Burlington, Ont.
Bothwell is survived by his spouse, Joan, and children: James, Timothy, Nancy, Douglas and Ann.